Let­ters on po­lice tun­nel vi­sion and our de­te­ri­o­rat­ing eye­sight.

Blindspots on the Rex Haig case, chil­dren’s eye­sight and the con­flict in Is­rael.

North & South - - Contents -

SHAME­FUL CASE HIS­TORY

I want to thank Mike White for his bril­liant re­port ( Rex Haig: Un­fin­ished Busi­ness, August). Rex Haig was my foster brother. And it is truly “un­fin­ished busi­ness”. [For­mer de­tec­tive sergeant] Brian He­witt got it so wrong, in my opin­ion, and he knew it – but he was so far into the case, he had to make it stick. That’s when all the shady deal­ings be­gan. Rex wasn’t a ruth­less man at all, but oth­ers in­volved in this case were.

There are too many cases in which the po­lice get it wrong, and some­thing needs to change. The Crim­i­nal Cases Re­view Com­mis­sion needs to come into play as soon as pos­si­ble, as I don’t feel con­fi­dent the po­lice will change. Tun­nel vi­sion, and the de­sire of some in­di­vid­u­als to climb to the top of the po­lice force, gets in the way.

It is sad my brother passed away so soon as he was work­ing on get­ting his name cleared. Hope­fully, Rex’s case can be used as an ex­am­ple of our flawed jus­tice sys­tem and make pos­i­tive changes for the fu­ture. SAN­DRA BREESE MOSGIEL

BLIND AS A BAT

As a “specky four- eyes” my­self, I was in­ter­ested to read Jenny Ni­cholls’ piece about sky­rock­et­ing rates of my­opia, the pos­si­ble cause, and the alarm­ing price of spec­ta­cles: The Com­ing Age of Ma­goo (August).

To pay more than $100 each for plain lenses is, no doubt, day­light rob­bery. Why doesn’t any­one know how much lenses cost to make? A poverty-stricken friend re­cently showed me a cheap on­line web­site that might be of in­ter­est: Select­specs.com. The only down­side is you can’t try on the glasses first. Al­though, as Ni­cholls says she can’t see her face while per­form­ing this op­er­a­tion, per­haps it doesn’t mat­ter.

It is odd that fans of al­ter­na­tive medicine don’t see spec­ta­cles as in­tru­sively “med­i­cal” de­vices. It wasn’t al­ways thus. Af­ter mag­ni­fy­ing lenses and spec­ta­cles were in­vented in the 13th cen­tury, quacks spurned them as “un­nat­u­ral”.

In his 1666 book The Per­fect Oculist, Robert Turner, a Lon­don doc­tor, ad­vised tur­tle’s blood and the pow­dered head of a bat for a squint. For weak eye­sight (my­opia), he rec­om­mended a neck­lace of cow’s eye­balls. For some rea­son, this in­ex­pen­sive rem­edy has since faded into ob­scu­rity. GWYNETH KEIRNAN WAIHEKE

FORE­SIGHT

As an op­tometrist work­ing for Spec­savers, with a spe­cial in­ter­est in chil­dren’s eye health, I was very in­ter­ested in your ar­ti­cle [ The Com­ing Age of Ma­goo] high­light­ing the prob­lem of in­creas­ing rates of my­opia among chil­dren.

As you point out, the in­creas­ing trend of chil­dren re­quir­ing cor­rec­tion for my­opia is be­com­ing a prob­lem not just over­seas but also in New Zealand. Clin­i­cally, I see this trend ev­i­dent ev­ery day, with one in four chil­dren re­quir­ing vi­sion cor­rec­tion. Ni­cholls writes about the ef­fect of in­creased in­doors time and stud­ies link­ing the lack of light ex­po­sure to in­creas­ing my­opia. This is ob­vi­ously a key factor, but we shouldn’t dis­count the im­pact of in­creased “near ac­tiv­i­ties”, such as read­ing and dig­i­tal de­vices held close to our eyes.

The wor­ry­ing thing is that par­ents are of­ten stuck be­tween a rock and a hard place when it comes to en­cour­ag­ing their kids to get out­doors and ex­pe­ri­ence good amounts of light ex­po­sure, be­cause most of their ed­u­ca­tion is cen­tred around stud­ies in­doors with near ac­tiv­i­ties. With chil­dren, the risk is that even high lev­els of my­opia can go un­de­tected as they of­ten find it dif­fi­cult to com­mu­ni­cate vi­sion prob­lems, or sim­ply don’t un­der­stand that their vi­sion is dif­fer­ent to oth­ers’. This has huge im­pli­ca­tions for their per­for­mance in class – also their so­cial be­hav­iour and con­fi­dence in sports.

It’s con­cern­ing that a re­cent study con­ducted on be­half of Spec­savers dis­cov­ered that up to 58% of New Zealand chil­dren un­der the age of 16 have never had an eye exam. A sight test be­fore school and ev­ery two years there­after is now free to ev­ery­one un­der the age of 16 at Spec­savers; it can iden­tify vi­sion is­sues be­fore key learn­ing mile­stones are even at­tempted.

I can’t stress enough the im­por­tance of a com­pre­hen­sive sight test be­fore chil­dren reach the age of eight, when in­ter­ven­tions can be taken to al­le­vi­ate, or even re­verse

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