My eyes have seen the glory – and yours can too!
Around the sixth grade, the front of my classroom started getting blurry. By the time I was 24, I bit the bullet (so to speak) and got LASIK eye surgery, when it was relatively new. After years of biohacking—and even though the surgery gave me super-powered 20/15 vision, I wish I had made a better choice. Twenty-four years later, in hindsight, I’ve learned what I should have done instead—because LASIK has a dark side.
Surgeons introduced LASIK to the public in the 1990s and, for many years, it grew in popularity. Basically, surgeons peel back the top layer of your eye and then use a laser to reshape its lens. When I did it, it was like a miracle. I could see every little leaf on every distant tree, an almost overwhelming increase in visual input to my brain. And, I loved it, despite the dry eyes, the loss of night vision, and the pain.
Those side effects might explain the more recent downturn in demand for LASIK eye surgery. And for very good reason: For many people, in fact, it actually damages nerves in the eye, a common reason for dry-eye disease, and can lead to a reduction in night-time vision.
In my case, for several years, my eyes had become excessively dry. At night, objects in my vicinity would glow brightly, like they were adorned with ‘halos,’ a phenomenon common to LASIK’s aftermath, but not supposed to last longer than a few weeks.
Still, I was glasses-free for almost 10 years. But, when things started to get blurry again, I learned that my vision had drifted to 20/80—which meant that I had to stand 20 feet away from something to see it when someone with healthy vision could stand 80 feet away and see perfectly. I had also developed astigmatism, which means that the lens in my eye was warped. I was on the path to wearing glasses once again.
“At night, objects in my vicinity would glow brightly, like they were adorned with ‘halos,’ a phenomenon common to LASIK’s aftermath, but not supposed to last longer than a few weeks.”
Manage your mitochondria
Some people refer to your eyes as the window of the soul but, scientifically speaking, they are really an extension of your brain—and they use a lot of energy.
Metabolic problems in your brain can come from several things (including, insulin resistance, traumatic brain injury, infection, mold toxins, heavy-metal poisoning, or viral infection.) One common symptom is light sensitivity—and longer-term problems, like advanced macular degeneration, can happen as a result of metabolic problems, or from excessive man-made blue light that can damage your eyes.
A new study ties together how important mitochondria are to having great vision—and how supporting your mitochondria throughout the body could, quite possibly, help keep your eyes working longer than they are supposed to.
“Some people refer to your eyes as the window of the soul but, scientifically speaking, they are really an extension of your brain—and they use a lot of energy.”
I didn’t want glasses again, so in 2008, I started a brand-new quest to fix my eyes, without glasses, and without another surgery. For three months, every Saturday, I met with a developmental ophthalmologist. It was exhausting work, essentially rewiring my eyes and my brain. I did weird exercises that forced my eyes to do things they didn’t like, which left me cranky and exhausted for hours afterward.
I also started focusing on a stack of nutrients for my eyes that, eventually, evolved into the formula I put together for Bulletproof—called Eye Armor—which targets strong mitochondria in your eyes.
I began wearing fluorescent- and LED light-eye protection and realized that I couldn’t buy properly designed glasses, so I started TrueDark to make the glasses I couldn’t buy.) If you’ve ever wondered why you see me wearing yellow glasses in my videos, that’s why! They are not blue blockers, because those cause harm during the day. They are partial blue blockers, so my eyes get a signal that it’s daytime. And at night, blocking blue isn’t enough…but that’s a whole different science article for you. (I’m writing it now!)
Guess what happened?
Three months of hard eye-training exercises restored my vision to 20/15, in both eyes, and got rid of my astigmatism. More importantly, for 15 years now, my eyesight has remained remarkably stable. In my last eye exam, the eye doctor said, “you have no more signs of sight loss—actually, you have a ton of flexibility in your eyes.”
She was marveled by the fact I could see the finest print they measured, and that my corneas weren’t displaying signs of yellowing, typical for someone my age.
Bottom line, she pointed out: “I think it’s a combo of your glasses and your supplements. Whatever it is, keep doing what you’re doing.”
I’m 48. I don’t need reading glasses. I see 20/15 and I can read in incredibly low light without a problem. This stuff is real.
Here’s how I biohacked my vision:
- I take three Bulletproof Eye Armor per day (recommended daily dose is one; I exceed it for personal use). It is full of evidence-based ingredients for vision, including astaxanthin, bilberry, and lutein.
- I support my mitochondria and mitophagy with intermittent fasting, as discussed in my new book Fast This Way, and apply the techniques from Head Strong
- I wear TrueDark daytime lenses, whenever I am under bright LED or fluorescent lighting to protect my eyes from toxic levels of man-made light.
- I dim screens and monitors whenever possible.
- At night, I read either under a red light, and I use the @truedark patent-pending sunset optical filters that remove more than just blue light glasses (because studies show that reading under red light is good for your eyes).
- Every morning, I get a few minutes of sunlight, without windows or lenses in front of me, because studies show a small dose of ultraviolet helps prevent nearsightedness.
- I regularly focus my eyes, for one minute, on objects far away from me, like trees, or mountains, or clouds.
- I use a dual-monitor set up on my desk, with one large monitor five feet. away from me, and one closer, to make my eyes focus at different depths.
- The exercises I used to restore my ability to focus, both up-close and far-away, were based on the Bates Method (which works very well, despite the garbage that is written on Wikipedia about it), and Meier Schneider’s Yoga For Your Eyes.
I was fortunate to interview Meier in person many years ago when I was running an anti-aging non-profit group in Silicon Valley, which has a driver’s license, despite the fact his corneas are shattered into hundreds of pieces. He rewired his brain and showed me how the interface between our eyes and brain is hackable.
When you manage your hardware right (don’t eat junk food, don’t see in junk light) and program your eye/brain interface correctly, your eyes will do what you want.
That’s what biohacking’s all about—changing the environment around you, and inside you, so you have full control of your own biology. Even your eyes!