Posts Tagged ‘Hormetism’

FAQ for vision improvement by Hormetism

Posted 01 Mar 2016 — by Todd
Category Uncategorized

Three of my most popular articles are about how to restore your eyesight naturally and liberate yourself from glasses or contact lenses:

I call my general method “Hormetism” — the application of incremental stress to improve health.  While this approach has some similarities to other natural vision improvement methods, what is unique here is how the method is organized around the central principle of applying graduated, incremental defocus stress to induce progressive improvement over time.

Hormetism is the precise opposite of the current standard of care for correcting vision.  Minus lenses are prescribed to provide immediate relief and “correct” a refractive error in the eye — usually a combination of axial lengthening and thickening or spasm of the crystalline lens.  But despite the immediate relief, this approach provides a “crutch” that induces a compensation in the eye that makes the myopia grow worse over time.  The method of Hormetism essentially reverses the process by using focusing techniques or plus lenses to restore the original shape of the eye and accommodative ability of the lens. The above linked blog posts delve into theory and experimental evidence for my method.

Vision improvement by Hormetism is also the single most popular topic on my Discussion Forum, and I’m so pleased to hear from many that these articles have helped them to reduce or even eliminate their dependence on glasses — without resorting to laser eye surgery.

But I get a constant stream of questions asking for clarifications about how to proceed.  I often find myself answering the same questions again and again.

So I’m writing this post to provide an “FAQ”:   Answers to frequently asked “practical ” questions about how to apply this method to get results and improve your vision.  I have tried to boil it down to a simple, step-by-step method.  The information and ideas summarized here are based upon my personal experience, what has worked for others, and my understanding of the science of vision.  I am not providing medical advice, so take responsibility for your own health.

Q1.  How do I start if I am myopic (nearsighted) and can focus close up, but the distance is blurry? 

A1.  Follow this five step process if you are myopic:

  1. Note your Snellen score. First go to the ISEE Website and print out a Snellen chart.  (That’s one of those eye charts you use in the doctor’s office or DMV to test your vision, like the one in the image below).  Hang it on the wall in a well lit area and mark off a line 20 feet back from the wall.  Cover each eye separately and note the lowest line for which you can correctly read all the letters.For example if it is Line 3 for your left eye and Line 4 for your right eye, your Snellen score is 20/70 (L) and 20/50 (R).  The second number after the slash represents the distance that a normal person would have to stand at to see in focus the line that you can see at 20 feet back.  Note that score, because it is your baseline against which to track improvement.Snellen chart
  2. Note your diopter correction.  This is the first number on your prescription, also called the spherical aberration.  Ignore for now all the other numbers after the first — these relate to astigmatism or cylindrical aberration.  (More about that later).  OD is the right eye and OS is the left eye.  So for example, if your prescription is
    OD -3.00 -0,.50 x 95
    OS -2.50 -1.00 x 93
    Then your myopia can be summarized as:
    What are diopters?  Well, 100 divided by the minus diopter number is the approximate distance (in centimeters) that you can see clearly in focus with each eye.  Since there are 39.4 inches per meter, then in inches that would be 39.4 divided by the diopters.  So a person with the above prescription can see
    39.4/3 = about 13 inches with the right eye
    39.4/2.5 = about 16 inches with the left eye
    Your Snellen score and diopter correction have different meanings, so you can’t translate from one to the other.  However, if you don’t have your diopter correction, you may find this chart useful in making an approximate translation between Snellen and diopters.
    ..Screen Shot 2016-02-27 at 1.43.24 PM..
  3. Use print pushing to reduce myopia.  Print pushing is a method that involves “active focusing”.  It is not a matter of passively wearing special lenses.  It requires conscientious awareness of the reach of your focus and an intentional effort to increase that reach by “nudging” it. If your myopia is stronger than -2 diopters or 20/150 in both eyes, then you cannot see normal print in focus beyond about 20 inches.  So you can proceed to do “print pushing” without any glasses or contacts — just your naked eyes.  The idea behind print pushing is to read right at the limit of your focal distance, and to systematically push that distance to become farther and farther away. Print pushing is something you integrate into your normal routine of reading printed matter or computer screens.  About 5 years ago, I defined three distances to keep in mind while print pushing:

    D1. The ‘edge of focus’ – the furthest distance for myope (or closest for a hyperope) where a printed letter is completely in focus
    D2. The ‘edge of blur’ – the distance just beyond the edge of focus, where the slightest blur in the letter can just be detected
    D3. The ‘edge of readability’ – the furthest distance where you can intelligibly recognize each letter.

    Now D1 and D2 are going to be VERY close, almost exactly the same distance. If you are reading at D1, and you push the print slightly away less than an inch, you are immediately at D2. And if you are at D2 and get the tiniest distance closer, you are back at D1 again.You should spend the vast majority of your time reading at D1, in perfect focus, but continually (every few minutes), testing yourself by “pushing” into to D2. That’s because D1 is a dynamic distance, constantly changing.  It depends on lighting conditions, how alter or tired you feel, and other factors.  And you never want to be reading at D3 — that is needless stress on your eyes.The whole idea of print pushing is to keep increasing D1 and D2 so that your range of focus increases.  Once your myopia weakens sufficiently, go to Step 4.

  4. If your myopia is mild (less than about -2 diopters), you should print push with plus plus lens racklenses.
    Once your myopia is -2 or less, you can easily read a book or computer at arms’ length — at up to about 19-20 inches (half a meter) — without glasses.  So you aren’t effectively increasing D1 and D2 any more. That’s when you need to start using “anti-corrective” lenses to make your eyes work harder, by bring D1 and D2 closer.  This is analogous to wearing ankle weights to increase leg strength when you go for a run.  This technique is sometimes known as “plus lens therapy”.Unlike minus lenses, which have concave curvature to “correct” myopia, plus lenses have a convex shape like a magnifying glass, making it easier to see objects up close.  But this also brings D2 closer, making it harder to focus in the distance.  And this is precisely what makes them useful for increasing D2 beyond 20 inches.
    Plus lenses are sometimes called reading glasses or “readers”, mainly to help people with hyperopia or presbyopia read with greater ease.  But you are going to use them for the opposite purpose — for making it harder to focus in the distance.To choose the right strength of plus lens, I recommend making a trip to your local pharmacy or department store, where these “readers” are sold on rotating racks, like those pictured to the right.Try on various pairs to find one that allows you to read comfortably at about 15-20 inches, but begins to blur beyond that.  As a rule of thumb,  your “effective” diopters will be that of your current diopters minus that of of the plus lens you wear.   So if you have worked your way to a -0.75 prescription, you’ll need to wear a +1.25 pair of reading glasses to make it seem like you have -2.00 diopter myopia. So try on the +1.25 pair to see how that works.
    Wear these reading glasses for at least part of the time you read each day.  How much time?  To be effective, I would say about 1-2 hours per day while reading.  You can use them more if you are comfortable.  But rest is important, so it is very important to follow these guidelines:
    – Take frequent breaks every 15-30 minutes or so, removing the glasses to look at objects near and far
    – Stop if you get tired, or if your eyes get sore or red
    – Use plus lenses only for reading and close work.
    Plus lenses will create too much blur for distance activities. (See point 5 below).As your myopia reduces, you will want to replace these plus lenses with stronger plus lenses.  Once you get higher than about +2.5, there is no need to go any higher.
  5. Use under-correction for distance activities. When not reading or doing close work, you can provide further stimulus to myopia reversal by wearing slightly under-corrected glasses or contacts when at work, watching TV, sitting in lectures, or other distance viewing.  This means ordering a pair of lenses that are about 0.25 to 0.5 diopters weaker than your original lenses. So to use the earlier example, for a starting of a prescription that reads:
    OD -3.00 -0,.50 x 9
    OS -2.50 -1.00 x 93
    You would replace these with the following under-corrected prescription, changing only the first numbers and leaving the others alone:
    OD -2.75 -0,.50 x 9
    OS -2.25 -1.00 x 93
    You wear these under-corrected lenses for a while (probably a few months) until your myopia is sufficiently reduced (by the combination of print pushing and wearing weaker distance lenses).  Then you order additional lenses with further reductions in the diopter correction.  When you are looking at distance objects, trace common objects with your eyes and observe fine features, especially lines and edges.  Vary your gaze near and far, and make this into a game.  Play with it!
    Fusing of double images. As your myopia reduces, you may have the experience that many have of “double vision” or ghosting.  This might seem alarming at first, but it is actually a sign of your ability to see objects more sharply!  I suggest watching the video on my post “Myopia: a modern yet reversible disease” for a good description of how to use a technique I call “fusing” to take advantage of double images:

    1. Find distant objects with sharp contrasting edges: telephone wires, tree branches, edges of buildings or signs
    2. 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
    3. Eventually the double image with fuse into a single crisp image — very exciting!

    As your myopia reduces, you will start being able to see objects in perfect focus at increasing distances, even with your naked eye!  This is where the technique really pays off and it is exciting and even emotional to experience this.

Q2.  This all sounds great, but I have hyperopia (far sightedness) or presbyopia (reduced accommodation of the crystalline lens) that make it hard for me to read fine print or read up close?  What can I do about that?

A2. Well, if you understand the principle of how Hormetism works to reduce myopia, you should be able to answer that question if you think about it for a moment?  What do you think the answer is?  That’s right — it’s the same method applied in the opposite direction!

When you read, instead of print pushing do “print pulling”.  Define D1, D2 and D3 by moving inward from perfect focus starting at D1.  Generally you can print pull with your naked eye.  Get as close as you can to read at D1, and test yourself frequently by getting closer to the text.  And try to test yourself on finer and finer print.  You can also print out a near vision test card from the I-SEE website  It’s basically a Snellen chart for people with hyoperopia or presbyopia. (It is on the final page of that link, after the standard Snellen chart for distance vision).

Another cool way to improve near vision is to use the “convergence” method of Ray Gottieb.  You can print out his chart and directions from the I-SEE Website.  This is a bit tricky and involves learning to allow your eyes to relax enough that they “cross” slightly.  Not everyone can do this.  It took me a while to make it work for me, but once I got it it was like magic!  Try it, it may or may not work for you.

Q3. My myopia correction is much stronger in one eye than the other. How do I apply your method?

A3.  If  the prescriptions for your right and left eyes are within 0.5 diopters of each other (as in the above example), then you should not have any difficulty doing print pushing. But if they differ by more than 0.5 diopters, then your D2 can be more than a few inches different for the right and left eyes.  So you can’t find a single distance for print pushing that will work for both eyes.

As we age, it is common to develop a condition called “mono vision” where the eyes tend to specialize — one is better at distance, one for close work.  This is the case with me, where my right eye has perfect distance vision but some presbyopia close up, whereas the the left eye is much sharper close up but 20/40 for distance.  The two eyes work very well together, but I keep pushing each eye to improve where it is weak.  I do print pushing with my left eye and print “pulling” with my right eye, as explained in the answer to Question 2 above.

WinkIn such a case, I would advise to work on the eye with a higher degree of myopia first.  But to do that you have to prevent your better “stronger” eye from doing the work, so that your “weaker” eye is forced to improve.  There are several alternative ways to selectively work on just your weaker eye, depicted in the diagram to the right::

  1. Patch. One way to do that is to tape some paper over the lens of the stronger eye.  I recommend using wax paper or tracing paper that diffuses the image and prevent focusing, but lets in enough light to keep your pupil from constricting, so you don’t have to readjust to the light when removing the glasses. Patching is convenient, but you may feel it looks too awkward or “nerdy” in public.
  2. Shield.  I personally like this method when reading for a long time.. Hold one hand with thumb against nose, and tilt at a 45 degree angle to block the stronger eye’s direct view of text, but still allow light in.  Your strong eye will be “looking” at the backside of your tilted hand, but your brain will fill in the gap and “see” what your weak eye sees on the page you are reading.
  3. Wink.  This is similar to shielding, but is leaves both hands free and is the least “conspicuous”.  At first, you may find it tiresome to hold one eye blinked shut, but it is amazing how much easier and almost effortless this becomes with practice.  I can blink one eye shut for 5 minutes without any problem.  And I periodically “flash” it open every minute or so to keep the pupil from shutting down.  This is something you can even do while driving because there is no issue of reaction time to open both eyes.

Q4.  Glasses are expensive. Do I have to keep buying new pairs of glasses as my vision improves? 

A4.  I agree that it would be costly to have to buy a new pair of glasses every time your vision improves.  There are two alternatives I can recommend if you want to save money and are willing to compromise a bit on style:

  1. Buy some inexpensive glasses online.  There are many vendors, but a reliable one is:  They have a wide range of choices of frames, including some under $20, and you can just input your prescription.  It is then relatively painless to order additional pairs with successively weaker corrections.
  2. Buy adjustable lenses.  You can buy these from or Adjustable lenses have the advantage that you can continuously alter the prescription so that it is fine tuned to what you need.  Some adjustable lenses can be adjusted both as plus lenses for print pushing, and under-corrected minus lenses for distance activities, and even minus lenses for print pulling.  I have been experimenting with using them to work on reducing the extent of my own mono vision (slight myopia in the left eye and slight presbyopia/hyperopia in the right eye).  This is a nice all-purpose solution.  The main downside is that these glasses have a somewhat reduced field of vision and tend to have a little bit of distortion that can be annoying.  But very practical.

For the record, I have absolutely no connection or financial interest in any of these sites, or any product whatsoever. I have myself purchased glasses from both Aennioptical and Adlens and have been satisfied, but I make no promises or claims as to how well these products will work for you.  But they are cheap enough that you can afford to experiment and to work through several stages of improvement without spending a bundle of money.

Q5. I have very strong myopia (usually between -6 to -12 diopters).  Will this method work for me or is it hopeless? How long will it take me to get to 20/20?

A5.  The Hormetism method can work no matter how strong your myopia or how old you are.  But you need to be realistic.  It took you many years to become myopic, and it will require patience, consistency and time to undo the damage.  The rate of improvement varies  a lot and depends on many factors, including age, genetics, and diet — and very much on your own consistency and persistence.  Some people can reduce 2 diopters in a year.  Others, only 0.5 diopters per year.

My experience– and that of many who have shared their experience on the Discussion Forum — is that improvements do not occur at a steady rate.  Rather, you will improve in sudden, unpredictable spurts.  You may see absolutely no improvement for weeks – and then one day you find yourself more easily reading books, or you can clearly see flowers in full focus on the other side of the room.  So be patient if you don’t make any progress in the first few weeks, or if you stall after a few months.

And let’s be clear also that some people make a concerted effort and never improve.  But there is really not much downside to trying, right? And you are not exposing yourself to the risks of other more invasive and “irreversible”  methods like laser eye surgery.

At the very least, you may stabilize your vision and stop the further progression of myopia.  Otis Brown champions this as “myopia prevention” and works with young people and their parents to help them stall myopia before it becomes serious.

Don’t minimize the potential impact of diet.  Cordain’s research indicates that the standard American diet, high in sugar and industrial oils, low in fiber, omega-3 oils, and phytonutrients is likely a strong contributor to the myopia epidemic.  I found that when I went on a mostly Paleo diet, my visual acuity sharpened, and I notice that consuming cod liver oil and more brightly pigmented vegetables induced a dramatic brightening in colors at the red and purple end of the spectrum, and better night vision.  If you practice hormetic eye exercises, but eat a lousy diet, you may be working at cross-purposes to your goal of improved vision.

Q6. I have astigmatism.  Will this method help me?

A6. Astigmatism often reduces spontaneously as myopia is corrected.  That is what I found in my own case.  But you may also wish to experiment with specific astigmatism reduction exercises such advocated by Leo Angart, such as tracing with your eyes the spokes of the Tibetan wheel, or the the similar Astigmatism Wheel used by followers of the Bates Method.  I don’t follow the general approach of either Angart or Bates, but happily borrow specific techniques where they prove useful.

I think that the above six questions account for about 90% of the questions I receive via individual correspondence or see posted as comments to previous posts or on the Discussion Forum.  For those who wish to take a deeper dive, I encourage you to head over to the discussion forum and peruse the many insightful discussions on vision improvement, mostly on the this popular board:

Discussion Forum: Rehabilitation

If your questions still are not answered by this blog post or what you find on the Discussion Forum, go ahead and start a new three to ask the question or describe your  experience.  I see a lot of good ideas over there and am constantly learning and tweaking my own approach.

Happy seeing!





Voluntary stress

Posted 22 Sep 2011 — by Todd
Category Hormesis, Psychology, Stoicism

When does stress help you and when does it hurt you? There is no doubt that stresses of the wrong sort can lead to anxiety, emotional turmoil — and eventually depression and diseases like atherosclerosis and cancer.  Yet a central theme of this blog is that certain stresses are “hormetic”: at the right dose and frequency, stress can actually make you stronger and more resilient.  The many posts on this blog illustrate how stress can be channelled to build muscle, retrain appetite, improve eyesight, strengthen immunity, defeat allergies, and tame addictions and anger.  Judicious exposure to stress can even promote joy and excellent health.

But one can come away from the study of hormesis with the misleading impression that it’s all about adjusting the level and timing of stressors to induce an appropriate adaptive or defensive response.  In this article, I would like to focus on a frequently overlooked ingredient in hormesis:  the role of intention, attitude and voluntary choice.  If you omit this ingredient, you are leaving out an important element of the way that stress helps you become stronger.

Voluntary, deliberate exposure to stress can be particularly effective in providing psychological benefits, including overcoming anxieties, obsessions and phobias, and vanquishing appetite cravings, addictions. Beyond overcoming such self-defeating tendencies, deliberate exposure works to unleash confidence and generate a sense of joy and accomplishment.

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