Myopia: A Modern Yet Reversible Disease — Todd Becker, M.S. (AHS14)Jun 01, 2021
our speaker today is Todd Becker and he's going to talk about nearsightedness, a
disease. talking about your eyes today and I hope you find the talk interesting but I'd like to start with two photos featuring me and my daughter, the first one on the left was on a merry-go-round at the San Francisco Zoo and she was about a year and the one on the right was newer and you might notice some differences between the picture, well I'm aside from the fact that my hair is grey, I was wearing glasses and the one on the left. about 20 years ago and part of today's talk is my story about what i did to learn about
myopiaand how i got rid of my glasses but the talk really has two parts the first part will be about the causes of
myopiaand you really have to start there if you're going to have an effect I on reversing myopia and the second half is going to be a technique I've developed and it's similar to techniques others have developed but it's my own particular spin on how to use the active approach to reverse myopia.
The picture there shows some girls in a high school in Singapore and a language arts class using their iPads and you can see that all the girls in the class wear glasses and in some of the Asian countries like Singapore myopia is very prevalent so First of all, what is myopia? Well it's colloquially myopia and what it is biologically is a refractive error of the eye where when you look far away distant objects appear blurry because images are focused in front of the retina instead of on the retina, it's really a very common disorder probably the most common refractive error of the eye and it is becoming more frequent and severe myopia can lead to macular degeneration cataracts floaters retinal detachment in severe cases or is it something to worry about now my talk about the myopia but some of you are farsighted and having farsightedness is the opposite condition i had to focus the talk so i chose myopia because it is more common but a lot of the principles here yes yes yes pay attention also applies to farsightedness so the question is whether myopia is caused genetically or is it environmental, there is evidence on both sides, for example, twin studies and parent-child studies show a higher correlation than you would get with fraternal twins or just by chance there are a number of gene mutations that have been identified as SCO 2, which has to do with copper metabolism which is implicated in severe myopia and there is great variation among different ethnic groups, for example, it's much higher in Asia, 70 to 90 percent in some countries maybe a third of people in the US or Europe have myopia and it's much less common in Africa, on the other hand, there are many environmental factors, for example, there has been a large increase among aboriginal people, for example, the Eskimos once they were introduced to western education, there is a correlation between the level of performance in school or the academic level in myopia and there are some experimental demonstrations that the blur generated by close work is a cause of myopia and we will go into that in some detail if you come back to a Some of the first studies on myopia.
There's one from Holland in the 1880s looking at military recruits looking at the occupations that people came from when they went into the military and she looked at farmers and fishermen, the prevalence of myopia was about 2 1/2% if you looked at the leather workers who used their hands in course work maybe about 5% of the manual workers who were doing a good job, maybe the jewelers jumped to the 12% of the tradesmen who were doing a lot of you know count work paperwork 15% and advanced students about 1/3 so that was an indication that there might be a relationship between the type of activity and what you're doing and the incidence of myopia if you look more recently myopia has really increased since the 1970s it's fine across all age groups and what this shows here is different age groups from young to my age where the incidence and pre valence of myopia has almost doubled. and the gray and black show the incidence of the more severe or advanced types of myopia where you see a particularly large change so if you look at virgin people as well I think a good example is the Eskimos and this was a study conducted by Francis Young in 1969 in Alaska if you look at the incidence by age group it is very interesting because in 1969 there was a school in operation for about 30 or 40 years so those people who were over 40 years old had not had a western education and you can see there was virtually no incidence of myopia there whereas those who had been introduced to western education had in some cases over 50% incidence again some evidence of an environmental factor if you look at Germany there was a s A study done recently where people who didn't complete secondary or vocational education had maybe 20 30 percent or 20 percent myopia those who complete With their secondary education they increased to maybe 35 and then those who completed college more than half were myopic and there is some geographic distribution indicating countries where particularly in Asia where there is more schooling even at early ages like 7 to 9 years we see that in Singapore for example 34% myopia while Nepal is only 3% and that compares to a modest maybe 7 or 8 percent in the US again in school age children so there is another factor environmental which is the right diet and there are some studies particularly by Cordain showing that for example eating a lot of carbohydrates, as you might expect, could induce a higher incidence of myopia and has been linked to hyper and selenia in excess carbohydrate intake at a deficiency of fish oil and essential fatty acids and mineral deficiencies now Cordain took the view that genetics was not really that important because he was studying children kids on the no wahoo islands they were in school eight hours a day and yet they were only 2% nearsighted but you know as I'll argue later it's not genetics or the environment but I think the two come together and if you think about it in terms of epigenetics or the environment acting on genes, it's kind of like alcoholism, right?
You can have a gene for alcoholism, but if you're not exposed to alcohol, you win. You won't have that condition, well, there was a study by Douglas Frederick in 2002 that showed that if you had the genetic indicator for nearsightedness and engaged in nearsighted genetic practices like education near work, you could have strong myopia greater than two diopters, whereas that if you are not predisposed and had those habits, you may have milder myopia; however, if I had internships other than my OPA Janek basically Oh, a low level of education or occupation that didn't involve a lot of close work, there was little or no myopia, that's a very interesting article, so let's get into biology, do you know how you can explain this well so i think it's important to start with an understanding of how the focus of the eye is placed if you look at the eye it has this lens the crystalline lens that just like in a camera it can change shape to focus light on the back of the retina, where you perceive the image now when looking at distant objects and most of the rays come in parallel, the lens is fairly flat and therefore not much focusing is needed; however when you focus close the lens actually has to expand and become more curved and just like with a magnifying glass it will tend to be able to focus light now a healthy I can go back and forth between those two states of focus with quite easily, however what happens in myopia is really a process that takes place in a couple of stages, firstly as we saw in the diagram above you have a thin lens when looking at far away objects and a thickened lens when looking at objects If you spend a lot of time working on the computer or reading or looking at your smartphone after a while when you are doing your work, the lens will spasm and it will be much harder for it to thin again when you look far away, so now, when you look far away instead of focusing on the retina you are focusing in front of the retina and you get a blur so this can be transient you know and this is what happens when you can be in elementary school but if you are doing a lot of close work you are looking at your smartphone all the time that spasm becomes more permanent then you go to the optician and optometrist and they fit you glasses which are convex lenses and when you put them in front of your eye it has the effect of making it look like you're seeing things in focus when you look far away and all so well.
There's a problem here though because the distance correction now makes it focus behind the retina when you look close up and this induces a very interesting process and i'll get into the biology of this so the length and axis of the eye become already ok and it has to do with a biological mechanism that has to do with focus D now when the eye gets longer from suddenly the eye is longer this is fine when you are doing your job where you spend most of your time however you have the same problem you had with pseudo myopia as you are now focusing in front of the retina and those images are how to focus, so what does it do?
Go back to the optician and get a stronger prescription and process. it repeats itself over and over and over again and this was my experience where i had to get stronger and stronger prescriptions to be able to see in focus so there is a theory called incremental D focus theory of the retina and it was developed by Heung and Cher fretta and t here is some very interesting recent data in humans that shows that if you really put a person with a negative lens to the right, the axis of the eye will grow and here, in just the course of an hour, the length of the eye increases by more than five millimeters, which is significant because the eye is only twenty-five millimeters long, on the other hand, if you put a positive lens in front of the eye over the course of an hour, it will shrink by about ten millimeters, and if you just put one lens neutral there is no change now this is a human study this is very recent a lot of the older data was in primates and in chicks but this is exciting because now they have tools that use a lightmeter where they can measure the length of the eye when you're focusing and I think this is a pretty interesting test of what's happening so what's really happening is when you adjust the eye with this lens and you're focusing behind the retina , there is a process by which there is growth of scleral tissue and scleral tissue grow in response to some neuromodulators that are secreted when there is a blur and actually quite interesting these neuromodulators have been shown experimentally to increase the elasticity of the scleral tissue and allow them to lengthen the process itself.
It can happen in farsightedness, where you're looking in the other direction and can cause the eye to shorten, so let's see if we're going to put this into practice. Can we take this learning and turn it into a reversal method? myopia, I mean, there you saw an experimental demonstration of how putting a lens in front of your eye can change its shape, so in this regard, I'd like to touch on a key principle that I blog about more and more strongly and what is hormesis our Mises is a beneficial response by an organism to a low-dose stressor that is otherwise detrimental or lethal at high doses and works by activating various defense or repair mechanisms. nisms and there are many examples you may be familiar with, for example, exercise and immunization calorie restriction exposure to heat or cold cause an adaptive response UV radiation formation of phytonutrients calluses if you play the guitar go barefoot skin growth occurs there and i will argue that the active approach is also analogous to exercise in this sense exercise particularly weight lifting is a great example of hormesis if you are lifting heavy you are causing these micro tears micro trauma to the muscle and you get super compensation as a result as long as you don't overdo it your muscles will grow back stronger the key is you have to train optimally working on the brink of failure if you train too much you will damage the muscle if you train too little you don't get an answer and this is sometimes called the specific adaptation to impose the demand or said principle, so how Can we apply this to reverse myopia?
But first imagine you walked you went to a gym and you wanted to get stronger and you applied the same model that Thomas Tris did now you go to the ophthalmologist and what they give you when they give you a pair of glasses or lenses is essentially a crutch, don't you want? to get immediate gratification see things crystal clear right away you don't want to do any work right if you went to the gym and instead of working out they said here we are going to put you in an exoskeleton and this is no joke there is a defense contractor that you are actually proposing this for soldiers who have to dolong walks and training missions you would wear this exoskeleton and while moving it would amplify your muscle strength and make your life easier well what do you think? what would happen if you wore this exoskeleton all the time probably the same thing that happens to astronauts in space their muscles atrophy they get weaker and when they take the exoskeleton off the problem is even worse ok my argument ent is this is exactly what you are doing when you were in glasses you are making your eyes weak so let's talk then how we can apply hormesis to make your eyes less myopic well there are a few techniques first of all there is the push print and lenses plus you wear while reading, secondly, there's one for distance, there's the use of progressively weaker lenses. or ghosting fusion which I'll be talking about so first you need to understand how nearsighted you are and the best way to do that is to use a Snellen chart that everyone is familiar with if they've been to the DMV or been to the eye doctor, it's a series of letters with different lines and you stand 20 feet back and see how far down you can read so if you could read up to line 4 there are lengths of a line 5 the PE cfd you would have a Snellen score of 2040 , which means you can see at 20 feet what a normal person can see at 40 feet and if you can only read the e at the top then you have a problem but if you translate that into the prescription it will go like this if you look to that 2040 person who could get a prescription of about five diopter points meaning they could see normal size text about 52 inches in front of them without glasses so first you need to know your strength now this is where the thing comes interesting if you really want work in reverse your myopia you have to read without glasses if you have so i would like to distinguish three different distances and this is my daughter acting as a model here in front of the computer so you are sitting at the computer or a book and you're reading take off your glasses now if you wear them and hold any print in front of you it's ok hold it at a distance where you can see things in focus and zoom in that's d1 that's what I call the edge of focus now push it out a bit more until it starts to blur you can see that beginning to blur and that's what I call the blur edge and that's d2 push it a little further and it starts to blur that's too far t That's the edge of readability ok this is analogous to when you go to the gym and you pick the right weight, you want to pick the weight that's putting you right on the brink of discomfort and what you want to do is go here alone. move back and forth between d1 and d2 as you read and keep pushing it a bit and you'll feel it's a little uncomfortable a little uncomfortable but never painful never hard and then you'll be reading between d1 and d2 and do this for about two to four hours every on days take a break every fifteen or thirty minutes or so and eventually you'll find you can increase d1 and d2 you can move it a little further away maybe the second day you'll get another inch of distance ok keep doing this, you will be surprised how fast it works once you get to 20 inches away if you can see you are in good shape now you need to wear plus lenses well then if you have strong myopia you don't need us Anything but if your myopia starts to get weaker now you wear plus lenses so here's what to do if your correction is a little weaker if you need if you have a correction less than minus two diopters go to the drugstore. and you'll see these racks with readers and you can try the plus one or the plus 1.25 or the plus one point five pick a pick a pair so you can read comfortably at 15 to 20 inches so now you're in fact starting to hurt you is like going out to run with weights and you will get stronger faster.
You're going to find that as you look into the distance it all starts to clear up and that's pretty exciting, go ahead and keep testing your Snellen that you know every week to see if you can read further and further down those lines, okay? What do you do when you're not reading say you're going for a wa For example, watching TV, you're sitting in a room like this and you want to improve, maybe you're writing as a passenger in a car. I wouldn't recommend this when you drive well so what you do there is get weaker lenses so let's say your prescription is for minus three so get minus 2.5 now maybe your optometrist will cooperate and do it for you but if not , go online go to zhenya optical comm putting in your prescription and here are some frames around $7 and with lenses it could be $20 , order a few progressively weaker pairs so if you're in minus-3 get a minus 2.5 get a minus to get a minus 1.5 and then as you get better and better move down to the weaker lenses ok now I'm going to talk about a technique that is really fun and very playful in the spirit of Darrell Edwards and this is a true story, how did i discover this technique? well i was on vacation i left my glasses at home on the other side of the usa so i was without glasses for two weeks and at first i was very frustrated i had brought some good books to read and my eyes were blurry, so i went for a walk and i said, ok, i'm just going to see what i can do without glasses.
What I noticed is that when I looked into the distance, particularly at objects that had strong contrast like the edge of a building or overhead telephone wires, I could see a sharp image and then I saw next to it a very faint afterimage and this a Sometimes it's Called diplopia or double vision, it's not a serious problem unless it's in only one eye, then you should consult your ophthalmologist, but usually it's just a refraction problem when your eyes have mild myopia, not very strong myopia , you'll see. these two images sometimes you'll see more than two and it's actually just going to refract the 'iv phenomenon but it's actually quite helpful because the more you look at this you'll find one of those two images is darker than the other right and as you go looking you will find one getting darker and the other getting lighter and dimmer and eventually blending together and this was a very exciting discovery for me that when looking at distant objects particularly with high contrast you could start to blend the images so this was my method for focusing and looking into the distance and positive lenses for computer work ok here are some key questions just the method actually works how much time should i spend each day doing this how long before that my vision improves and it's the same as the Bates Method, well a couple of facts first of all it worked for me and really dozens of other people and I write a blog that goes strong and has m More than 1.3 million visits.
There are two posts in particular that I encourage you to look at. with vision enhancement one of them is called vision enhancement and throw away your glasses and then i have a forum where there is a thread called vision without glasses and these have let you know over a hundred t Thousands of views and i will also show you some slides with references at the end of the talk and they will be on my website if you are skeptical or want to follow up on the science behind it how much time should you spend? first of all you need to have the right mindset these are not exercises you like to go to the gym these are activities you integrate into your daily activity while working on the computer while working every day or while going for a walk spend at least two to four prynt hours pushing without plus glasses if you have mild myopia if you have strong myopia and with plus glasses if you have mild myopia and take breaks it is very important do not sit looking at the screen all the time look far away look up look closely look more close look far at the key point again it should feel uncomfortable but never painful if you have red eyes or tension stop taking a few days off try again how long does this take to work thats the other question i always get again be patient your eyes it took years to get to this condition it's not going to change overnight how you approach exercise going to the gym and dieting don't expect results Immediately you have to work on this however keep in mind that you are going to see clearly and it is going to be exciting I mean the only thing I have to say here is that this was the most exciting thing for me to be able to take my glasses off and see everything with sharp details to see expressions to see the leaves on the trees find little you know branches to see little patterns in the sky that you've never seen before if that doesn't motivate you I don't know what can be incredibly liberating to be free of your glasses and not having glasses contact so usually most people see some improvement within a few weeks and the rate of improvement is generally faster at first, it's common to see a sudden improvement and then no change for a while and then a sudden improvement but that's the way it works go to the gym ok or wait it's not a constant line but again the excitement comes at the end when you don't need glasses anymore is it the same as the Method bats? well not really Bates had a theory that you need to relax the eye and he had the wrong idea of â€‹â€‹physiology he thought that focusing the eye muscles had to do with the muscles around the eye tensing or relaxing and that you were actually changing the shape of the eye now we know that's not the case it's the ciliary muscles and the crystal changing the shape of the lens i mean i was probably right about eyestrain and the fact that you need to relax however just he really addressed half the problem which is what I called pseudo myopia in that early period where you can't see in focus he didn't really address soft axial myopia because he didn't know the self would get longer or shorter and unfortunately his relaxation and visualization methods remotely they're great, I think they're fantastic, but they don't really do anything for those of us who are sitting in front of a computer all day, because you can only p spend a certain amount of time looking into the distance and what we know of the incremental.
The theory of T retinal focus is that it's sort of time-averaged exposure at different focal lengths it's important so if you're going to be spending a lot of time on the computer you need a technique and that's where the idea of â€‹â€‹pushing the print comes holding the piece. paper or screen at that correct distance without getting too close without relying on your lenses but working right at that threshold between focus and blur focus and blur is a very small threshold and you can find it quite easily so that's what Bates did I don't offer ok so I'd like to summarize that your eyes are adaptive organs just like your muscles just like your metabolism just like everything you've been reading closely for years you've been working with smart p .
Admittedly those are a particular problem with kids, they are staring at their smartphone or video game all the time and as a result their lenses are twitching, you need progressively stronger lens prescriptions to correct that problem, but that just reassures me longer and your nearsightedness worsens so reverse the process do the opposite to the right use the same adaptability to reverse the process and use active focus take a break from your busy routine look at distant objects step back when reading if you are sitting watching a tv show if you are in a conference room sit as far back as possible sit as far back as possible to see everything without your glasses if your nearsightedness is weak and your eyes are using very well plus glasses to speed up the process just right and when you take off those plus glasses and you will find Wow everything is very clear so stimulate your eyes it is very important to play with your eyes have fun with this est Whether or not it's a chore, incorporate it into your daily life.
Make it a habit, but make it a game when you're walking down a trail. Look at each little branch. Follow those branches. Look at the shadows. See what you can distinguish. There is a wonderful world around you. but a fraction of the details and it's so exhilarating to be able to do that without your glasses what I can tell you is the more you do this and the more disciplined you are doing it the better your results will be so anyway that's all I have to offer you today and happy to see the questions first before answering questions.
I just wanted to show here some references on the epidemiology and the biological mechanism, okay, this will be in the video and you can take a snapshot and finally on the methods. which you can use to improve your vision and some websites. I particularly recommend DeAngelis's book on Severson and Otis Brown's book. Very good methods on my site. sites that have similar methods is fine, we have time for ten minutes. I'd take the first one, thanks, that was really interesting. When you're in shape, you go to the gym from time to time, right? I would say periodically I have a pair of plus glasses if I do a lot of reading, I'll take them out and wear them a little, but not a lot. actually because what I tend to do is sit a little further away from my screen and try to avoid bad habits in the first place, as this screen is a potentially negative part of the environment.
I noticed that you knowyour daughter. i was modeling in front of the screen it is better to try to train with books and not look at screens there is a certain volume of time to look at a screen considering how much you said that smartphones and computers are damaging our eyes yes i think it is preferable to have a us book lit in front of you would be ideal but sometimes you don't have that option so if you're working on the computer I don't see any real difference as long as you have good lighting and you're healthy you can use the computer or a book thanks that's fine It seems that in my family we have myopia.
My brother has two eyes that are around 21,000, so he can't do anything without glasses. I have an unusual problem: this eye is perfect and this one I'm really nearsighted when looking at snellen charts I can't read the biggest print anymore but the problem is that I remember what it is so you can see that your two eyes are different very different this It's very common by the way it's called amblyopia I have it too In fact I have one eye that's a little farsighted and the other a little nearsighted so this is what you do well.
If you have two different eyes, block one eye and work with the weaker eye because your stronger eye will dominate and do more. work for you can put a patch on your glasse s can you just hold your hand like this or you can wink the right link of an idea and its awkward at first putting on your winking muscle gets stronger yeah because i'm 20/20 and 24-hundred right so i find my problem is me i can read here and i can read here and it's just like here that's hard because my eyes aren't used to competing for dominance and they don't like that oh so i should probably do a lot of reading here so that my eyes get used to it. to see in three dimensions, yes, but your eyes are very different.
I think you probably want to work with your eye first until it zooms in because it's much easier to do this method when your eyes are closed, so in my case it was you. my left eye which was weaker and i spent a lot of time working on it until the two were even so could you any advice for my brother who would probably have to be this close to the computer before he could be on edge the readability? that's hard but that's where it's used maybe your nose will get in the way yeah now that's where you start one thing you can do is use a weakened prescription so take a few diopters off the prescription to be at a reasonable distance in this case it would be a - prescription but just weaken the prescription and start there great thanks to anyone with a really strong prescription if you go through this process you will have to replace your glasses along the way because it can be quite expensive yes and that is why i recommended this website there are some very cheap optical communication frames that you know get several pairs for 15 or $20 frames or glasses I about six dollars for the frames and with lenses it could be twenty to thirty dollars total ok thanks similar question about unequal as i am a - six point five and minus five do i solve as if i just make a point as a negative six and leave this the same or the do i roll back both at the same time?
I mean, how do you work with this? I know without the blink or whatever yours are pretty close so they might work but if you want to wink or block the strongest eye and work with the minus six first until it gets down to minus five and you can you can use the smell the snellen chart there with one eye read as much as you can and wait until your eyes are more even and then proceed together its like you go to the gym and have a strong right arm and a weak arm or left you would want to work the weaker arm first until they were both similar so you can get glasses I'm just going down one lens for something like that yeah I get those or just patch our diffuser in front of one leg ok thanks , hi I was curious to see how much your axial length has actually changed since I did this method unfortunately I don't have the device to measure my axial link which requires some fancy apparatus however the study I cited there you can read about 28 different patients and i see all the measurements that were done on their eyes but usually if you look at the results they got it would be several millimeters so sorry several microns yeah ok i think one of the things your method teaches is to improve your visual acuity and not necessarily change the optics of the eye which is what can help but I just want to say that optical problems that are in place are not corrected because it only improves your acuity visual through practice.
I just want to say yes, if you have other eye conditions besides myopia, yes, that's not what this is about, thanks for a very insightful talk. I have a question about the font size when it does this. especially here in the Bay Area in tech they are using a larger font size where they stay the same distance away so I would still recommend even if you use a larger font size going away from the screen is that an obviously right There is a connection between font size and distance, so the recommendation here was for a normal size font, if it's larger you'd have to go back further to get the same benefit beyond a short distance, even at despite using a background of beer the problem is focused on a short the distance is that right that's right so you want to increase the distance whatever the font size going back further and further progressively thank you and if you have kids who have 20/20 vision, how do you prevent them from ending up with glasses? like, yeah I have a good question so first of all good hygiene which means don't work to close write work your way but if you want to do it you can go per week more lenses like the most, readers are very cheap. to any pharmacies that are there if they are doing extended work ask them to use them many people see this as a preventative technique and do an experiment ask them to put on the positive glasses and read for an hour and take them outside and ask if they now see the world sharper and clearer than before just ask them thanks ok I think there are two more questions I have never had a problem with nearsightedness but am getting to a point where I need glasses to read and more recently driving at night is less comfortable Ask ideas about those two topics.
I didn't touch on Anya's good diet, you know, I think it helps a lot in terms of a low insulin diet and also lots of phytonutrients so you have your cones and rods healthy so you can detect color in low light, but also just think that These healthy focusing methods are going to come in handy at night because you'll see car lights and details you need to see sharper. They are the same principles as you. Yeah, okay, last question, what would happen? if people moved on after the split went back to normal, would it continue to improve?
Oh, there's a post on an interview I did on my site with a student who was vision impaired, she got to 20/20 and said, I want to do better than this. he wants a monitoring and he got to 2015, go ahead, it's called how a person improved his vision or a person first his eyesight and he used the method to get to 2015 and if he kept going like this it would create the opposite problem for myopia, oh no, I mean, so you can get better and better distance vision but you can use the same process for farsightedness, if you can't see things that close then you have to read like this and then do the opposite. pull them in until they're on the edge and eventually you'll be able to read closer, basically you can reshape your eye in any direction using active focus to the right, so I'd continue after normal as after my own nearsightedness it's fixed ed creating farsightedness not necessarily I don't mean because it's ok as long as you're flexible and can exercise your eyes so you look close and then vision and I advocate alternating the two is that increases the range of focus from near to far thanks if you improve your nearsightedness using your technique do you think that will reduce your chances of macular degeneration eh yes it can if you look at some of the causal contributors to macular generation retinal detachment floaters? you'll see myopia prominently there it's not the only cause but there is a connection ok thank you very much
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