Here is the video and slide set from my presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium, August 9, 2014, in Berkeley, California. I enjoyed meeting many of you who were at the conference. I’d recommend watching the video first, and perhaps follow along with the uploaded slide set in a separate window, since it is more convenient for viewing references and other details.
(Note: You’ll notice some minor differences in the video and slide versions, as the AV team inadvertently projected an earlier draft rather then the final slides I had provided).
Overview of the talk. For ease of reference, here is slide-by-slide “table-of-contents” summary of the presentation. People are always asking to provide a detailed explanation of exactly what steps to take to improve their vision. You’ll find this bottom line “practical advice” in Slides 23-36
- Title: Myopia: a modern yet reversible disease
- My story: I wore glasses from Grade 10 until 15 years ago. I don’t wear glasses any more!
- To reverse myopia, we need to first understand the causes.
- Myopia defined. Myopia can lead to serious problems like cataracts and macular degeneration
- The prevalence of myopia has increased by 50-100% since 1970, across all age groups in the U.S.
- There is evidence for both genetic and environmental causes.
- An 1883 study of military recruits found myopia was much higher in students and merchants than farmers
- A 1969 study of Eskimos found that myopia had increased dramatically since Western schooling was introduced
- A 2012 study of German students found more than 50% of university graduates had myopia vs. 25% for dropouts
- In countries like Singapore and Taiwan, myopia is common among even young school children
- There is evidence that certain genes predispose to severe myopia. Copper deficiency induces myopia due to increased scleral wall elasticity.
- Cordain found that a high carbohydrate diet and deficiency of EFAs and minerals promote myopia
- It appears that a myopiagenic environment (near work) is needed to activate genetic predisposition to myopia
- What is the biological mechanism?
- The normal lens changes shape to focus
- Myopia progresses in two stages: (1) near work induces lens spasm, causing pseudo-myopia; (2) use of minus lenses temporarily improves distance vision, but leads to eye elongation and axial myopia. The result of elongation is a need to prescribe stronger minus lenses, in a vicious cycle of ever stronger lenses.
- Eye elongation is explained by the incremental retinal defocus theory. Retinal defocus causes release of neuromodulators that lead to decreased scleral tissue integrity, and axial growth
- The IRD theory has been proven empirically in chicks, monkeys and humans using optical reflectometry
- How can myopia be reversed?
- First, it is useful to understand the framework of hormesis — the beneficial response to low dose stress
- Weight lifting is a good example of hormesis and the principle of Specific Adaptation to Imposed Demand
- What if gyms had the same business model as optometrists? They would prescribe exoskeletons to help us walk, but these “crutches” would make us weaker, not stronger. Lenses are crutches
- To reverse myopia with hormesis, we need to use active focus. That means print pushing and plus lenses while reading, and progressively weaker minus lenses and image fusing for distance activities
- To embark on this journey, you must first determine how myopic you are, using a Snellen chart
- For print pushing, you need plus lenses only if your myopia is less than -2D. Otherwise use your naked eye
- Find the distance (D1) where print is at the edge of focus and (D2) where it starts to blur. Read between D1 and D2
- Move back from your computer or book to stay between D1 and D2. Do this for 2-4 hours a day, taking frequent breaks. Graduate to stronger plus lenses when you drop below 2D, and continue until you achieve 20/20 vision!
- For distance (walking, TV, movies, meetings) buy glasses with a 0.5D reduced prescription
- Once your vision gets better, you may notice “double vision” or ghosting. This is a good sign and something you can use to improve your vision!
- Find distant objects with sharp contrasting edges: telephone wires, tree branches, edges of buildings or signs
- Focus on the darker of the double image and away from the fainter image. With time, the darker image will become darker, and the fainter image will fade away
- Eventually the double image with fuse into a single crisp image — very exciting!
- Most people have a weak eye and a stronger eye with less myopia. The stronger eye will dominate, so strengthen the weaker eye by patching, shielding or winking shut the stronger eye…until the two eyes are roughly even.
- Frequently asked questions
- How much time should I spend on print pushing? Spend 2-4 hours a day while doing routine computer work or reading. This is not a separate exercise, but something you build into daily activity
- How long before my vision improves? Be patient — it’s like exercise or diet and won’t work overnight. Expect some improvement within a few weeks, but it may take a year or more to clear your vision
- Is this the same as the Bates method? Bates had some incorrect ideas about focusing, but his relaxation techniques can help reduce ciliary strain on the lens (pseduomyopia). However, his method does not help if you have axial myopia and spend a lot of time at the computer or reading. Print pushing specifically helps with that.
- Does active focus really work? Check out my blog and forum for success stories
- And for the skeptical, here is a page of references on the epidemiology and causation of myopia
- And more references on methods and websites that provide a similar approach to mine
- Your eyes are adaptive organs which allowed them to become myopic, but you can use that same adaptability to reverse the process using active focus for both near and far activities
- Rediscover your natural vision — make it fun, make it a habit, make it a game. You only have your glasses to lose!
Also be sure to check out these related posts and discussions: