EYE, CARE OF.—The eye is one of the most sensitive nerve-organs of the body. Its systematic care must therefore be counted among the most important hygienic necessities, and it is to the individual interest of every one to consider this a duty. What may be said in a general way of the care of the normal eve, may be applied with more insistence to the diseased eve.
As soon as the child is born, the eyes must be carefully inspected, and cleaned with fresh, clean, absorbent cotton and lukewarm, previously boiled, water. To prevent the dangerous inflammations of the eves of the new-born, the physician or midwife may drop a few drops of a solution of nitrate of silver into each eye (Credo's method). If, in spite of these precautions, inflammation sets in, no time should be lost in summoning a physician, as a large number of cases of blindness can be traced to this condition. Although the eyes of the new-born baby should be shaded from too strong a light, this dots not mean that all light and air should be excluded.
In young children, sometimes even at a tender age, inflammations of the conjunctiva and the cornea appear, in connection with eruptions on the face and head and enlargement of the glands. These arc usually of a scrofulous nature, wherefore, not only the eyes should he treated locally, but general medical treatment should he instituted, including the administration of tonics, appropriate diet, cod-liver oil, fresh air, etc. In various diseases of children (as scarlet fever, chicken-pox, and measles), the eves also become inflamed ; but these cases do not require any special treatment, it being usually sufficient to darken the room, without, however, cutting off the supply of fresh air. When the child becomes old enough to work and play out-of-doors, all work which puts a strain on the eves should be avoided. In buying picture-books, preference should be given to those with large and plain pictures, which do not require too much attention to little details.
The entrance into school constitutes the most dangerous period for the child's eyes. It behoves the physician, the parents, and the school authori
ties to unite in their efforts to prevent the occurrence of near-sightedness, a school-disease in the true sense of the word. School-rooms must he high and provided with large windows, arranged in such a manner that the light is distributed uniformly and sufficiently. A very bright light must be subdued by proper shades. The hours of work should be alternated with regular periods of rest. The school-benches must he so constructed that they do not make it necessary for the child to lean forward or to one side in order to reach his desk. The pupil should sit straight in front of the desk when writing. The type used in hooks should be sufficiently large and plain, and liberal spaces should separate the individual letters, words, and lines. Proper attention to these details should also he insisted upon in the home. The erect position may be favoured by proper work-benches or desks, which should fulfil the following requirements (see Figs. 133, 134) : (r) They must be so structed as to allow the feet of the pupil to rest ably on the floor ; (2) a space of several finger-breadths must intervene between the hollow of the back of the knee and the edge of the bench ; (3) the seat on which the child sits must project inward beyond the edge of his desk ; (4) the desk or table should be at such a distance above the bench, that the child can rest his arms comfortably upon it while sitting upright ; (5) the table should be neither too high nor too low. The dow, or whatever artificial source of light is used, should be on the left hand of the desk or work-bench, in order that the shadow of the hand may not fall on the writing-surface. Artificial light, a necessary evil, must be uniform and steady ; a flickering or glaring light should not be used. If necessary, the eyes may be protected from the direct rays of the light by a green shade, or. better, by attaching a suitable globe to the lamp or gas-burner.