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The non-response of the alleged bioethics guarantors to an inquiry by a member of US Congress
by H. Peter Aleff

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Ascertaining the toxicity of fluorescent light
to baby eyes by exposing more babies to it

Dr. Reynolds and many other nursery doctors insist on exposing the babies to high levels of fluorescent light although they have no evidence whatsoever that this unnatural and certainly un-womb-like light is either needed or safe.

He and his co-authors list many dangers from bright light to baby eyes, and they further know that the baby-blinding started and spread together with the introduction and spread of fluorescent lamps. They are aware that this light emits a high proportion of its energy in the wavelengths that consistently damage animal retinae and that other government scientists have determined to be the most hazardous to the human adult retina.

But with one of those medical inversions of logic that can make some doctors so highly hazardous to health, these detached scientists are not removing this obvious and unneeded hazard.  First they say they need to prove the blinding power of this unneeded and hazardous radiation and find out just how toxic it is to the eyes of babies who get no protection from it.

Back in 1900, U.S. Senator Gallinger proposed a bill, S3424, that would outlaw the experimental administration of drugs for the purpose of ascertaining their toxicity.  Sundry "medical ethics" codes imply the same prohibition for the testing of drugs and by extension also of radiation.

The LIGHT-ROP experiment shows that the respect for those hifaluting codes is still absent from the daily bioethics reality.

Dr. Reynolds et al. instruct their study staff to administer intentionally maximized doses of a specifically retina-damaging radiation for the publicly stated purpose of ascertaining its toxicity to the developing retinae of prematurely born humans. See, for instance, the quote in the sidebar next to Dr. Reynolds' picture in the PARADE article:

"If any chance existed that ambient light was damaging, we wanted an opportunity to prove it to the largely skeptical world. Our trial is the only way this will be accomplished."

The IRBs review this gross violation annually and rubber-stamp it each time in perfunctory pro-forma meetings.  Dallas did not bother to send the IRB minutes the OPRR had requested, but in Buffalo the average time spent per item on the long agendas for the rather short IRB meetings ranged from 3 minutes 7 seconds in 1991 to 45 seconds per study protocol in 1995.

Meanwhile, the watchdog agency that is supposed to supervise the IRBs and to pounce on all medical abuses drags its feet and tries to cover them up.

So who guards the guardians of the guardians of those who are supposed to guard the babies' health? The circle will continue as long as medical doctors are supervised only by other medical doctors who have all been taught the same medical ideology and who have all sworn the same Hippocratic oath that insists above all on their solidarity with their medical profession.

An obfuscating intervention
from the National Eye Institute

On August 13, two days after the date on Dr. Reynolds' letter, Don Everett from the National Eye Institute called Dr. Cassells at the OPRR and offered the NEI's assistance for looking into the LIGHT-ROP study. Mr. Everett is the LIGHT-ROP Program Director. He told Dr. Cassells that I had never contacted the NEI and had none of the background information concerning the subject or the grant history.

The first part of his statement is simply wrong. I sent my material about the speed of the light overdose in preemie eyes to Dr. Karl Kupfer, Director of the NEI, for the first time on September 2, 1989; I know it arrived because the NEI's Freedom of Information Officer told me on September 11 that my letter had been referred to her office. I wrote again to Dr. Kupfer on October 7 and December 15 of that same year to remind him about the ongoing danger to the preemies and about the ethics lapses in the proposed LIGHT-ROP trial.

Dr. Kupfer never replied to me about my documentation of the dangers, but when Senator Lautenberg asked him to comment on it, Dr. Kupfer sent him on October 26, 1989, a three-page letter with the usual medical myths about the baby-blinding that I had already refuted.

Ever since these initial letters almost nine years ago, I have been in regular contact with the National Eye Institute, and I accumulated several thick file folders of correspondence with them. It is therefore not clear to me how Mr. Everett can pretend that I never contacted the NEI.

The second part of Mr. Everett's statement is intriguing: if I have "none of the background information concerning the subject or the grant history", as he says, then what did the NEI Freedom of Information Officers leave out from the files they sent me over the years as the supposedly complete set of all the relevant documents available to the public? And if some of that missing background information is not open to public scrutiny, then why not?

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