In my continuing saga exploring the historical pages of the New York Times, here is one article that proposes that eye defects are the cause of insomnia. Too bad it didn’t turn out. Anyway, here are the first four paragraphs of a very long article from Sunday, April 25, 1915. The headline is: “EYE DEFECTS CAUSE OF INSOMNIA, Practically All Cases of Insomnia Traced to Some Ophthalmic Trouble by a London Specialist.”
You can read the entire article here. Too bad Dr. Pronger’s theory didn’t meet the test of time.
What I find most interesting is the seriousness of the impact of insomnia even back 101 years ago, the reference to “the actual wastage of human lives by suicide, wrecked brains, and shattered nerves.” I realize that insomnia has been a part of the human experience going back as far as written records allow us to probe, but to have this degree of suffering caused by it, I just had no idea.
Of course, Dr. Pronger was a consulting ophthalmic surgeon to Harrogate Infirmary and would have seen the worst of it. I cannot say with any sort of certainty that the method I present in In Pursuit of Sleep would have helped any of them, although I do believe it could have helped many. However, there were people in the world then and there are today who have sleep problems that can only be addressed effectively with medication.