Visions of Joy - Natural Eyesight Improvement - Vision Education
The Joy of Seeing with Natural Clarity!
Improve your vision and overcome the need for glasses or contacts while avoiding laser surgery

Articles about Eyesight

Stories and articles about improving eyesight naturally.
If you have an article that may be appropriate for inclusion on this page,
please e-mail it to me.
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Eyesight Articles by Esther Joy van der Werf:
- Re-Vision: Natural Vision Correction (December 2015)
- Improving Visual Fitness (March 2014)
-
Relax into Seeing, Relax into Life (November 2009)  See also 'Lectures & Workshops' by Esther
-
A Different Way of Seeing (2008)
-
Can Eyesight Improve Naturally? (2007)
-
Natural Eyesight Improvement (October 2005)

Eyesight Articles by Dr. W.H. Bates:
- Complete collection of 30 medical articles by Dr. Bates is now available (1886-1923)

Eyesight Articles by others:
- Any corrective lenses destroy eyesight (Preventdisease.com, August 2013)
- Smart phones to blame for increasingly poor eyesight in children (Express, August 2013)
- Do 'environmentally friendly' LED lights cause blindness? (Daily Mail, May 2013)
- New study links caffeinated coffee to vision loss (Arvo.org, October 2012)
-
New Education about Sugar, Vision and Dry Eye (Bio-Logic Aqua Research, 2012)
- Can Chinese eye exercises help prevent myopia? (NBC News, August 2012).

- Light and human health: LED risks highlighted (LEDs magazine, November 2010)
- Myopia as an Adaptation by Robert Lichtman NVE (July 2010)
- Revising the rules of perception (July 2010)  (De nederlandstalige versie vindt u hier)
- Vision gets better with the right mind-set (April 2010)
- Eat leafy greens to see clearly (December 2009)
- Eyes right: Three proven ways to protect your eyes and improve your vision
- Playing outside can prevent children becoming short-sighted (January 2009)
- Editorial about Visions of Joy in 'Networking Times' (September 2008)
- Windows on the Mind
(August 2007)
- Economic Impact of Vision Problems in the U.S. Estimated at $51.4 Billion (April 2007)
- Court orders See Clearly Method off the market (November 2006)
- The Eye of God (October 2006)
- The harder you look, the less you see (September 2006)
- Watching TV can make you myopic (January 2006)
- Smoking Nearly Triples Risk of Age-Linked Vision Loss (December 2005)
- Dr Grace Halloran - Obituary (August 2005)
- Phytonutrients Are Essential for Healthy Eyes (January 2005)
- Leafy Green Veggies Protect Eyes and Prevent Damage to the Lens of the Eye (Dec 2004)
- Heavy Computer Use Linked to Glaucoma (December 2004)
- Lead Exposure linked to Cataracts (December 2004)
- Lifestyle Blamed for Rise in Myopia in East Asia (July 2004)
- Dr. Kaplan presents talk on vision therapy at United Nations in Vienna, Austria (June 2004)
- Study: Not all kids with glasses need them (June 2004)
- Fruit 'helps prevent eye disease'(June 2004)
- Short-sightedness may be tied to refined diet (April 2002)
- Myopia and ambient lighting at night. (Nature, May 1999)
- Heresy (late 13th century)


Articles by Esther 

Re-Vision - Natural Vision Correction
This article was published in Best Self magazine, Issue 8, December 2015.
This link takes you directly to the article on the Best Self magazine website.
It even has an audio version; yes, read by Esther herself! Also available on iTunes.

Improving Visual Fitness
This article was published in Vegan Health & Fitness magazine, Vol. 3, issue 2, March 2014.
'Improving visual fitness' opens as a PDF document in a separate window.

Relax into Seeing - Relax into Life
This article was first presented as the closing lecture at the 22nd International Holistic Vision Conference in Spa, Belgium, 1 November 2009.
Relax into Seeing - Relax into Life opens as a PDF document in a separate window.

A Different Way of Seeing (written in 2008).
Read: A Different Way of Seeing.  It will open as a PDF document in a separate window.

Can Eyesight Improve Naturally? 
This article was first published on selfgrowth.com in 2007. 
It was also published in Natural Communities magazine in August 2010.

Can Eyesight Improve Naturally opens as a PDF document in a separate window.

Natural Eyesight Improvement
by Esther Joy van der Werf
(This article was first published in Living Nutrition Magazine, October 2005, and a slightly revised version was published in Well Being Journal, Volume 20, No 1, January 2011)

Seeing, like breathing, is something we do without much conscious thought.  However, some of us have stopped breathing fully - now breathing shallowly instead, and some of us have stopped seeing effortlessly - now straining to see instead. Somewhere along the line, something interfered with our natural habits, and we started on a downhill slide.  Can you remember a time when your vision was perfect?  What happened when it began to deteriorate?  Were you doing lots of reading or close up work?  Did you go through a stressful period?  Was there an accident?  When I ask these questions many people discover a link between the beginning of their vision problems and a major change in their life.  For one person it was a neck injury, someone else went through divorce, yet another had a hard time living up to expectations during college, and one person realized his vision problems began when he got a job involving long hours working indoors without windows. Tracing the initial cause may help us understand the current problem and can be the first step toward healing our eyes.

Improving my own vision
My visual blur began when I was 17 and in a relationship that my parents didn't approve of.  The emotional turmoil caused mental strain, which caused visual strain, and it resulted in nearsightedness.  I really didn't want to deal with the big picture at that time.  I started squinting, which my parents noticed, and I was sent to an optometrist to get glasses.  I couldn't get used to my glasses, so I decided they weren't worth wearing, because the slight blur was easier to live with than the sense of separateness that the glasses caused.
After 16 years of squinting and making do with approx 20/50 blurry vision, I was fortunate to meet Tom Quackenbush of the Natural Vision Center at a living foods health expo in San Francisco, where I bought his book 'Relearning to See'.  A while later, during a 14 day water-only fast, I took the time to read Tom's book and I began using the better vision habits he described.  It only took two weeks for my visual acuity to get back to 20/20.  I was happily surprised.  Not only did acuity improve; colors became brighter also, and depth perception increased.  A few months after that, my acuity improved even further to a delightfully sharp 20/15.  So my own experience proves that clear vision can return quickly, under relaxed circumstances, and with conscious awareness of better vision habits.

Can your eyesight improve too?
Can you regain the clarity of vision that you once had?  Is there a chance for you to rid yourself of those cumbersome glasses and contact lenses, without resorting to the risks of laser surgery?  Many students of the Bates method, including myself, have done exactly that.  We relearned natural vision habits, regained our clear vision, and no longer need those eye 'crutches'.  One of my students went from -2.50 diopter of nearsightedness to passing the DMV eyesight test without glasses in less than 4 months; she also eliminated her light sensitivity during that time.  One man came to see me because he had failed the drivers' eyesight test for the first time and didn't want to get glasses.  After one hour of practicing good vision habits he passed the test easily, his acuity had improved from 20/50 to 20/30. (Most states in the US require 20/40 vision to pass the drivers test.)  Such fast progress may happen for you too, while others take longer.  If it took years for your eyes to reach your present state of blurry vision, then you may get frustrated if you expect your eyesight to clear up overnight.  The good news is that natural vision improvement works at any age and it can help solve or reduce many vision problems, such as: nearsightedness (myopia), farsightedness (hyperopia / presbyopia), astigmatism, cross-eye (strabismus), amblyopia (lazy eye / suppression) and others.

Vision fluctuates
Have you ever noticed times where your vision is better or worse than usual?  Perhaps you find that sometimes you see clearer in the morning after a restful sleep, and that your eyesight gradually gets worse during the day as work requirements demand attention.  Or you see better on a relaxing day spent at the beach in the sun, while indoors under artificial light you need your glasses all the time.  Vision is clearly not static; it is subject to fluctuation.  So, if your visual acuity can fluctuate, it makes sense that there must also be a way to reverse the downward visual slide that so many people are on and start improving your vision on a more permanent basis.

No eye exercises
Natural Eyesight Improvement is not about eye exercises.  Seriously!  Why no exercises?  Because it is not due to a lack of eye exercises that your vision became blurry.  In the early 1900s Dr. Bates, an eye-surgeon from New York, discovered that the main cause of functional vision problems is tension.  So I do not recommend "eye push-ups" - the muscles around your eyes are likely tight already, and adding strain to tense muscles will not do much good.  Seeing is such a natural function, you just need to learn how to stop interfering with what your eyes and brain are designed to do effortlessly.

Relaxing your eyes - moving versus staring
Many people associate relaxing with not moving.  For the eyes, this is not appropriate.  The eyes like to move, they are designed to be on the move all the time; shifting 70 times per second is normal for healthy eyes.  Staring is not your eyes' favorite pass-time, it can actually be painful.  My definition of staring is keeping your head still, your eyes don't move either, you don't blink, and there is no change in focal distance (i.e. you keep your eyes locked on one fixed point).  Try that. - Okay, how did that feel?  My eyes don't like it at all any more; they hurt when I stare, and the object I'm staring at quickly becomes blurred.  Staring demands that the muscles around the eyes tense up.  Those muscles don't like that, they are designed to move.  Movement helps blood flow; blood flow brings nutrients and oxygen.  Holding tension for prolonged periods is unnatural for eye muscles.  They prefer to shift regularly between near and far vision, and they generally like to move around.

Blinking
Staring also reduces the rate of blinking drastically, which can cause the eyes to become dry and prone to infections.  Are you in the habit of staring?  If so, next time you catch yourself staring, shake off that stare, move your head and eyes, breathe, and return to regular relaxed blinking.  Your eyes will be grateful.  Healthy eyes blink every 2 or 3 seconds.  It is a quick, effortless blink, lasting only 1/40th of a second, which is barely noticeable and does not interfere with seeing.  Blinking lubricates and cleanses the eyes.  It also gives the eyes a mini-rest.  Catch up on blinking: do some fast blinking, or do a squeeze blink; allowing your face muscles to squeeze also, making funny faces, then return to relaxed mode.  Ask a partner/relative/friend to tell you when you are staring.  The more you increase your awareness of your staring habit, the more chance you have of eliminating it and the sooner you will return to a healthy blinking habit.

Breathing
Did you know that the eyes and the brain use more oxygen than any other part of your body?!  A deficiency of oxygen significantly reduces our ability to think and see clearly.  Therefore our breathing pattern affects our vision, and a return to clear vision requires a return to natural breathing habits.  Those with shallow breathing habits tend to hold the chest and/or belly area tight and thereby restrict movement of the diaphragm and ribcage, and thus the ability of the lungs to expand outward and fill fully with oxygen.  A lot of people have different ideas about how we should be breathing.  One thing is for sure; the more we can use our full lung capacity efficiently, the better our health and vision will be.  I highly recommend checking out the information put together by Michael Grant White, who is an expert on optimal breathing.  His website is www.breathing.com.

The above will help you set your first steps on the path to natural clear vision.  For more information on natural eyesight improvement please visit www.VisionsOfJoy.org, where you'll also find suggestions of books on eyesight improvement, links to many other similar websites, dates of eyesight improvement classes and a list of natural vision conferences and events worldwide.  Enjoy your path to clarity.

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Other Eyesight Articles

Any Corrective Lenses Destroy Eyesight - How To Correct Vision Naturally Without Any Surgery, Glasses or Contacts.
29 Aug 2013
by Marco Torres, PreventDisease.com

Few optometrists will admit and the greatest majority are unaware that glasses and contacts are almost guaranteed to destroy your eyesight over time. Unfortunately, they're not trained on natural and preventative solutions that improve vision in the long-term because they simply do not understand the way the eye works. Contrary to popular belief, your vision doesn't have to decline over time. With regular exercise of the muscles that control your eye movements and visual acuity, you can reduce eyestrain and maintain or even improve your vision without any destructive correctional conventions such as laser surgery, glasses or contact lenses.

Most writers on ophthalmology appear to believe that the last word about problems of refraction has been spoken, and from their viewpoint the last word is a very depressing one. Practically everyone in these days suffers from some form of refractive error. Yet we are told that for these ills, which are not only so inconvenient, but often so distressing and dangerous, there is not only no cure, and no palliatives save those optic crutches known as eyeglasses or contacts, but, under modern conditions of life, practically no prevention.

With one accord ophthalmologists tell us that the visual organ of man was never intended for the uses to which it is now put. Eons before there were any schools or printing presses, electric lights or moving pictures, its evolution was complete. In those days it served the needs of the human animal perfectly. Man was a hunter, a herdsman, a farmer, a fighter. He needed, we are told, mainly distant vision; and since the eye at rest is adjusted for distant vision, sight is supposed to have been ordinarily as passive as the perception of sound, requiring no muscular action whatever. Near vision, it is assumed, was the exception, necessitating a muscular adjustment of such short duration that it was accomplished without placing any appreciable burden upon the mechanism of accommodation.

While primitive man appears to have suffered little from defects of vision, it is safe to say that of persons over twenty-one living under civilized conditions nine out of every ten have imperfect sight, and as the age increases the proportion increases, until at forty it is almost impossible to find a person free from visual defects. Voluminous statistics are available to prove these assertions.

What Glasses and Contacts Do To Us

Roughly 2.5 billion people have perfect 20/20 vision. For the other two-thirds, more than 80% of vision problems worldwide are preventable and even curable. In developed nations, more than 90% of aging related deterioration of vision before the age of 50 is due to diet and the daily use of corrective lenses. Meaning the more people lack nutrition and the more frequent the use of glasses or contact lenses, the worse vision will become impaired.

The fact that glasses or contact lenses cannot improve sight to normal can be very simply demonstrated by looking at any color through a strong convex or concave glass. It will be noted that the color is always less intense than when seen with the naked eye; and since the perception of form depends upon the perception of color, it follows that both color and form must be less distinctly seen with glasses than without them. Even plane glass lowers the vision both for color and form, as everyone knows who has ever looked out of a window. Women who wear glasses for minor defects of vision often observe that they are made more or less color-blind by them, and in a shop one may note that they remove them when they want to match samples. If the sight is seriously defective, the color may be seen better with glasses than without them.

That glasses or contact lenses must injure the eye is evident from the facts given in the preceding chapter. One cannot see through them unless one produces the degree of refractive error which they are designed to correct. But refractive errors, in the eye which is left to itself, are never constant. If one secures good vision by the aid of concave, or convex, or astigmatic lenses, therefore, it means that one is maintaining constantly a degree of refractive error which otherwise would not be maintained constantly. It is only to be expected that this should make the condition worse, and it is a matter of common experience that it does. After people once begin to wear glasses their strength, in most cases, has to be steadily increased in order to maintain the degree of visual acuity secured by the aid of the first pair. Persons with presbyopia who put on glasses because they cannot read fine print too often find that after they have worn them for a time they cannot, without their aid, read the larger print that was perfectly plain to them before. A person with myopia of 20/70 who puts on glasses giving him a vision of 20/20 may find that in a week's time his unaided vision has declined to 20/200, and we have the testimony of Dr. Sidler-Huguenin, of Zurich that of the thousands of myopes treated by him the majority grew steadily worse, in spite of all the skill he could apply to the fitting of glasses for them. When people break their glasses and go without them for a week or two, they frequently observe that their sight has improved. As a matter of fact the sight always improves, to a greater or less degree, when glasses are discarded, although the fact may not always be noted.
That the human eye resents glasses is a fact which no one would attempt to deny. Every oculist knows that patients have to "get used" to them, and that sometimes they never succeed in doing so. Patients with high degrees of myopia and hypermetropia have great difficulty in accustoming themselves to the full correction, and often are never able to do so. The strong concave glasses required by myopes of high degree make all objects seem much smaller than they really are, while convex glasses enlarge them. - These are unpleasantnesses that cannot be overcome. Patients with high degrees of astigmatism suffer some very disagreeable sensations when they first put on glasses, for which reason they are warned by one of the "Conservation of Vision" leaflets published by the Council on Health and Public Instruction of the American Medical Association to "get used to them at home before venturing where a misstep might cause a serious accident." Usually these difficulties are overcome, but often they are not, and it sometimes happens that those who get on fairly well with their glasses in the daytime never succeeded in getting used to them at night.

All glasses contract the field of vision to a greater or less degree. Even with very weak glasses patients are unable to see distinctly unless they look through the center of the lenses, with the frames at right angles to the line of vision; and not only is their vision lowered if they fail to do this, but annoying nervous symptoms, such as dizziness and headache, are sometimes produced. Therefore they are unable to turn their eyes freely in different directions. It is true that glasses are now ground in such a way that it is theoretically possible to look through them at any angle, but practically they seldom accomplish the desired result

You can read the entire article here.



Smart Phones 'to blame for increasingly poor eyesight in kids and young adults'.
16 Aug 2013
by Sophie Alexander, the Daily Express

CHILDREN as young as seven are at risk from ‘screen sightedness’ due to excessive smartphone use, a study has shown.

Since the launch of smartphones in 1997 there has been a 35 per cent increase in patients with advancing Myopia (short-sightedness), according to a leading laser eye surgeon.

David Allamby, founder of Focus Clinics, has warned that Myopia in young adults and children could increase by 50 per cent within the next 10 years and the trend has led him to dub the condition "screen sightedness".

A lifestyle spent watching hours of TV, browsing the internet, texting and playing games means that young people and children in particular are at risk from permanently damaging their eyesight.

Almost half of all Brits own a smartphone and spend on average two hours per day using them.

"People need to ensure they limit screen time wherever possible even by going outside without their phone for a period of time each day."
David Allamby, founder of Focus Clinics

Research has shown users hold their handsets only 18 - 30cm away from their faces, compared with newspapers and books which are held 40cm away from the face when reading.

Mr Allamby said: “People need to ensure they limit screen time wherever possible even by going outside without their phone for a period of time each day (Getting out into the sunshine has been shown to reduce the progression of short-sight), and also seriously consider the age at which they give their children a smartphone."

Mr Allamby also added that today’s generation of children are most at risk of Myopia, with children as young as seven being given their first smartphone.

It is predicted that by 2014 teenagers aged 12-17 will be the second biggest market for smartphones, behind 18-24 year olds.

The express.co.uk have contacted the smartphone providers and are awating response.



Do 'environmentally friendly' LED lights cause blindness? (Daily Mail, November 2014).
By Rachel Reilly
You can read the complete article here

- Spanish research has shown that blue LED light can irreparably damage the cells in the eye's retina
- This is not the first time energy-saving bulbs have been criticised - fluorescent bulbs emit dangerous UV light

Eco-friendly LED lights may damage your eyes, according to new research.
A study has discovered that exposure to LED lights can cause irreparable harm to the retina of the human eye.
LED lights have been touted as a super-efficient alternative to traditional bulbs because they use up to 85 per cent less energy and each bulb can last up to 10 years.
In April, Philips, the world's biggest lighting maker, reported a 38 per cent jump in LED light sales from last year.

They are already widely used in mobile phones, televisions, computer screens and can also be fitted as a replacement for traditional lighting in the home.
LEDs are much more expensive that traditional bulbs - costing around £25 for an equivalent 100w compared to around £1 for an incandescent bulb - although manufacturers claim that consumers make their money back because the use such little energy.

The government announced it was phasing out incandescent bulbs in 2007 after an EU directive banned their use. The 100w bulb was the first to go in 2009 and lower wattage bulbs continue to be phased out gradually.
The ban caused public outrage as customers were forced to spend large sums of money on lighting that not only gave an unpleasantly 'cold' light but also caused some people to report symptoms of itchy skin and headaches.
The government's Enhanced Capital Allowance Scheme, which was brought in to help cut UK carbon emissions, is also pushing the use of LED lighting by offering businesses added tax relief if they use LED and other low-energy bulbs.
Dr. Celia Sánchez-Ramos, of Complutense University in Madrid and who led the study, explained that light from LEDs, or light-emitting diodes, comes from the short-wave, high-energy blue and violet end of the visible light spectrum.

She said that prolonged, continuous exposure to this light may be enough to damage a person's retina.
The retina is composed of light-sensitive tissue that is responsible for detecting light and in turn allowing us to see.
‘This problem is going to get worse, because humans are living longer and children are using electronic devices from a young age, particularly for schoolwork,’ Sánchez-Ramos told ThinkSpain.com.

‘Eyes are not designed to look directly at light — they are designed to see with light,’ Sánchez-Ramos said.
Her comments are partly based on her 2012 study that was published in the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology.
The study found that LED radiation caused significant damage to human retinal pigment epithelial cells in vitro.
Sánchez-Ramos added that modern humans have their eyes open for roughly 6,000 hours a year, and are exposed to artificial light for the majority of that time.
Some experts have called for the LED lights to have built-in filters to cut out the blue glare.

This is not the first time energy-saving lights have come under scrutiny for safety reasons. Compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, have been criticized for the high levels of mercury they contain as well as the UV radiation they can emit.
LED lights have also been blamed for the changing hues of masterpieces in art galleries.
A study carried out by the University of Antwerp earlier this year found that LED lights were bleaching the paint on works by Van Gogh and Cézanne.



New study links caffeinated coffee to vision loss, 3 October 2012
The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (arvo.org)
Read the original article here.

Rockville, MD – A new study suggests caffeinated coffee drinkers should limit their intake to reduce their chances of developing vision loss or blindness. According to a scientific paper in Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science, heavy caffeinated coffee consumption is associated with an increased risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma, the leading cause of secondary glaucoma worldwide.

The study, The Relation between Caffeine and Coffee Consumption and Exfoliation Glaucoma or Glaucoma Suspect: A Prospective Study in Two Cohorts, is the first to examine the link between caffeinated coffee and exfoliation glaucoma in a U.S.–based population.

“Scandinavian populations have the highest frequencies of exfoliation syndrome and glaucoma,” said author, Jae Hee Kang, ScD, of Channing Division of Network Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Mass. “Because Scandinavian populations also have the highest consumption of caffeinated coffee in the world, and our research group has previously found that greater caffeinated coffee intake was associated with increased risk of primary open-angle glaucoma, we conducted this study to evaluate whether the risk of exfoliation glaucoma or glaucoma suspect may be different by coffee consumption.”

The study was composed of two cohorts: 78,977 women from the Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and 41,202 men from the Health Professionals Follow-up Study (HPFS) who were at least 40 years of age, did not have glaucoma and reported undergoing eye examinations from 1980 (for NHS participants) and 1986 (for HPFS participants) to 2008. The research team used questionnaires to obtain and validate the consumption of beverages containing caffeine and reviewed medical records to determine incident cases of exfoliation glaucoma, which contributes to elevated pressure sufficient enough to damage the optic nerve, or [incident cases] of exfoliation glaucoma suspect that have milder or only suspect optic nerve damage.

A meta-analysis of the two cohorts showed that, compared to abstainers, participants who drank three cups or more of caffeinated coffee daily were at an increased risk of developing exfoliation glaucoma or glaucoma suspect. The researchers did not find associations with consumption of other caffeinated products, such as soda, tea, chocolate or decaffeinated coffee. The results also showed that women with a family history of glaucoma were at an increased risk.

Kang, along with his colleagues, report that this study represents a much needed effort to better understand the causes of exfoliation glaucoma, which are largely unknown.

“Because this is the first study to evaluate the association between caffeinated coffee and exfoliation glaucoma in a U.S. population, confirmation of these results in other populations would be needed to lend more credence to the possibility that caffeinated coffee might be a modifiable risk factor for glaucoma,” said Kang. “It may also lead to research into other dietary or lifestyle factors as risk factors.” 



Light and human health: LED risks highlighted, 15 Nov 2010
by Tim Whitaker, editor of LEDs Magazine

Issues relating to the effects on health and well-being of artificial light are discussed in three recent publications; including one that says the blue-light component in white LEDs causes toxic stress to the retina.
It is now accepted that artificial night-time lighting has various effects on humans (not to mention wildlife) and that exposure to optical radiation affects human physiology and behavior, both directly and indirectly. Many areas are not well understood, and a position statement from the Illumination Engineering Society (IES) emphasizes mainly the need for further research. At the other end of the scale, a French government report emphasizes the risks of LED lighting and makes various recommendations.

ANSES highlights risks from LED lighting

ANSES, the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health & Safety, has published a report entitled (in English): " Lighting systems using light-emitting diodes: health issues to be considered," which focuses squarely on potential problems caused by LED lighting.

The full report is available in French only, but the report summary (in English) says that risks have been identified concerning the use of certain LED lamps, raising potential health concerns for the general population and professionals. "The issues of most concern identified by the Agency concern the eye due to the toxic effect of blue light and the risk of glare," says the report, adding that the blue light necessary to obtain white LEDs causes "toxic stress" to the retina.

Blue light causes a photochemical risk to the eye, says the report, the level of which depends on the accumulated dose of blue light to which the person has been exposed, which is generally the result of low-intensity exposure repeated over long periods. "Blue light is…recognized as being harmful and dangerous for the retina, as a result of cellular oxidative stress," says the report, adding that 3 groups are particularly at risk; children, populations which are already light-sensitive, and workers likely to be exposed to high-intensity lighting.

The other main risk is from glare. The report say that, for indoor lighting, it is generally agreed that luminance higher than 10,000 cd/m² causes visual discomfort whatever the position of the lighting unit in the field of vision. Because the emission surfaces of LEDs are highly-concentrated point sources, the luminance of each individual source can be 1000 times higher than the discomfort level. The level of direct radiation from this type of source can therefore easily exceed the level of visual discomfort. Other risks related to the use of LED lighting systems have also been raised, but futher study is required.

The report says that the photobiological safety standard (EN 62471) seems ill-adapted to lighting systems using LEDs, and that the Unified Glaring Rate used for the other types of lighting is unsuitable for LEDs. Among various recommendations, ANSES says that only LEDs falling into risk groups similar to those of traditional lighting systems be available to the general public, and that the highest risk lighting systems be reserved for professional use under conditions in which it is possible to guarantee the safety of workers.

Manufacturers and integrators of lighting systems using LEDs are encouraged to use optics or diffusers, for example, so that the beams of light emitted by the LEDs cannot be seen directly, to avoid glare. Manufacturers should also take account of the progressive wear of layers of phosphor in white LEDs, which in time could lead to devices being moved from one photobiological risk group to a higher one, according to ANSES.


You can read the complete article here



New Education about Sugar, Vision and Dry Eye (Bio-Logic Aqua Research, 2012)
 
by Sharon Kleyne

"In my research, I have discovered that aside from causing health problems such as obesity and diabetes, sugar is also addictive, dehydrating and a significant factor in dry eye and other vision problems. I strongly advocate increased research and public education." -Sharon Kleyne, Feb 2, 2012

Sharon Kleyne, host of the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water has been researching the harmful effects of over-consumption of sugar for decades. Since 2007, on her radio show, she has discussed the adverse effects of sugar with numerous diet, health and vision researchers. The consensus is that sugar consumption is a major contributor to the current worldwide diabetes and obesity epidemics and can be a factor in dry eye disease, macular degeneration and other eye problems.

Sugar intake, Sharon Kleyne notes, is a known factor in adult onset diabetes, metabolic rate disorders, hormonal imbalance, high blood pressure, poor liver functioning and increased use of prescription medications. According to Mrs. Kleyne's research, every one of these disorders can cause eye diseases such as macular degeneration or dry eye, or dehydration (systemic water loss) that can lead to dry eye.

According to Mrs. Kleyne, refined sugar, fats and salt can also set up unhealthy food cravings that may be difficult to overcome. These foods are all dehydrating when consumed in excess. .
Several past guests of the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water radio show have talked with Sharon Kleyne about health and vision problems caused by excessive sugar intake.

Philip Paden, MD, an Ophthalmologist in Medford, Oregon, appeared on the show as an advocate of the vegan diet. He specializes in cataract surgery and eye damage from diabetes (macular degeneration). It is well known, according to Dr. Paden, that diet, especially the over-consumption of sugary foods, is the primary cause of adult onset diabetes.

Dr. Paden recommends 10% of calories from fat in a 2,000 calorie daily diet, and 5% to 10% of calories from protein. We eat far too much protein, he states, which stresses the kidney and liver. We need fat, protein and carbohydrates for energy but all in moderation. But the main food to avoid is sugar, especially foods containing added or processed sugar (including juices that contain fructose). According to Dr. Paden, stevia (in moderation) is a good replacement for refined sugar. Sugar, however, is sugar, no matter where it comes from.

Allen Taylor, Ph D., of the Tufts University Laboratory for Nutrition and Vision Research,
also appeared on the Sharon Kleyne Hour Power of Water. Dr. Taylor stated that healthy food and nutrition, including water, can be helpful in natural sight preservation.

Dr. Taylor's diet recommendations for eye health are the same as for overall health: Keep weight down, get plenty of exercise, drink sufficient water, avoid refined sugar or heavily sugared products, and eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day for anti-oxidants and fiber. He recommends cutting down on most other foods. Vegetables are best eaten raw. Juice is fine in moderation if there is no added sugar or additives. Sugar is associated with macular degeneration, poor liver functioning and obesity.

Dr. Taylor notes that many meat proteins are modified in the body to sugars that accumulate and interfere with absorption of beneficial proteins.

Sharon Kleyne concludes that sugar is dehydrating and can be harmful to eye health and overall health. She observes that as research continues, more and more problems seem to be arising from excessive sugar consumption. Mrs. Kleyne strongly advocates additional research and increased public education to raise awareness.


You can read the complete article here



Can Chinese eye exercises help prevent myopia? (NBC News, August 2012).
You can read the complete article here

BEIJING – Zhang Xinyu meticulously completes her eye exercises twice daily. Her teacher tells her they will help keep her eyesight sharp. At age 12, Xinyu has already been wearing glasses for two years.
For 49 years, the Chinese Education Ministry has required students to exercise their eyes in the name of the Communist Revolution and to combat myopia, or short-sightedness.

The prevalence of myopia, however, is skyrocketing. An estimated 80 to 90 percent of Chinese are short-sighted by the end of high school – triple the U.S. rate. Few Chinese questioned the effectiveness of the eye exercises over the past five decades – until a recent post challenging the exercises was published earlier this summer on Sina Weibo, China’s widely popular answer to Twitter.

“China has had eye exercises for 49 years,” posted a microblooger under the alias “Live from Shanghai.” “Of all the countries in the world, only China uses these eye exercises. The eye exercises are no good for people’s vision. Today, more than 360 million Chinese teenagers have myopia, the second largest percentage in the world.”
You can read the rest of the article here

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Esther's comment:  
As Dr. Bates said 100 years ago, myopia and blurry vision in general are due to eye strain, not weak eye muscles. Which is why eye exercises (or eye "push-ups") are unlikely to have much effect. Visual relaxation is what these Chinese kids need. If for nearly 50 years you keep doing the same thing yet expect a different result, it may be time to change to a better approach... How about they learn and use the Bates Method for the next 50 years and then compare results?!?


Myopia as an Adaptation (July 2010)
Written by Robert Lichtman, Bates method teacher and vision researcher. Posted with his permission. Read Robert's excellent insights on Myopia as an Adaptation.  This link opens as a PDF document in a separate window.



Revising the Rules of Perception
Vanderbilt University, 29 July 2010  
(Hetzelfde artikel in het nederlands vindt u op Universiteit Utrecht)

The adult brain has more plasticity than previously thought

The human brain never stops adapting to its environment in a constant quest to formulate what the mind perceives based on what the eyes see, according to findings from a research team that includes two Vanderbilt neuroscientists. The article, "Experience-driven plasticity in binocular vision," is slated for the July 29 issue of Current Biology. 

The findings provide further proof that adult brains are capable of learning new "rules" for seeing, said co-author Randolph Blake, Centennial Professor of Psychology.

And the research adds credence to the notion that adult brains can be retrained following trauma or surgery or even from the effects of aging or eye misalignment, said Jan Brascamp, a Vanderbilt psychology department research associate. He and Blake were part of the research team that included Chris Klink and Richard Van Wezel, both of Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

The research involved the use of binocular rivalry. Participants in this study viewed radically different images presented to each eye at the same time over a prolonged time period. For example, one eye might view a house while the other viewed a human face. Even though each eye was "seeing" a different image, the brain tended to focus on just one of the images at a time for the first few minutes.

After that, however, participants began seeing something new. In addition to periods of exclusive perception of a house or a face, people also started to experience mixtures of the two images, either as two entire views superimposed or as bits and pieces that seemed to form an ever-changing jigsaw puzzle.

"These new perceptual experiences imply a form of learning where the brain revises its scenario of what the eyes might be looking at. Evidently it takes a while for the brain to accept the different views provided by the two eyes," said Brascamp. "The fusion of the two images is an indication that the brain is starting to come up with a solution to this confusing situation." Fusing the two views, he said, may be a more natural behavior compared to focusing on one of the two images exclusively.

The second part of the experiment involved patching one eye for about 24 hours after the eyes viewed two "rival" objects. Brascamp and Klink subjected themselves to this kind of "monocular patching" to test the team's initial theories.

The researchers found that the brain continued to stick to the same newly learned solution while the patch was in place and the participants went about their normal activities. In other words, after the brain had learned to fuse the "rival" house and face images, this ability did not change while they viewed the world through only one eye. When the patch was removed and the participant again viewed the rival images, the brain immediately "saw" the fused image, implying that learning had not been undone.

Why did a new way of seeing take over the brain's normal way of perceiving "rival" images? Blake explained that the brain recalibrated to the unusual input and began to accept it as the norm.

The researchers concluded that the brain had learned a new way of seeing. "It's this sensory recalibration that makes our results fascinating," said Blake.

"Moreover, the brain doesn't give up on that revised view easily," he said. "The only way to reset things again is to provide coordinated binocular vision where both eyes again view the same scene."

In order to reset the previous learning, the patch was removed and the research participant was allowed to retrain his brain by conducting normal activities, thereby exposing the brain to a conventional view - called matching binocular input. The participants were then once again exposed to the rival house and face images, and now they promptly experienced full suppression of one of the images, just as they did at the start of the experiment. This period of matched binocular input, in other words, prompted the brain to abandon its newly adopted rule in favor of its previous mode of operation.

Among the exciting findings for the researchers was the fact not only that the brain can be retrained in the way it "sees" an image but that the retraining had lasting effects as long as visual experience did not contradict what the brain had learned. 

"The message is simple but fascinating," Blake said. "Our brains never stop adapting to our environment. In this sense, the mystery entailed in visual perception never gets finally solved."

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Esther's comment:  
Once again scientists are slowly catching up to old news...  I have known for years that adults can regain binocularity, because I experienced it myself!  I'm not the only one either.  Sue Barry published a book about her experience called "Fixing my Gaze", and many others have done the same 'miraculous' act of regaining their 3-D vision even though scientists thought it was impossible until now...  Oh well, at least scientists are now moving in the right direction, so perhaps we shall applaud them for that :-)  Thanks guys!

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Vision Gets Better With The Right Mind-set
by Bruce Bauer, Science News, 27 April 2010

Eyesight improves when people expect to have especially keen vision

Imagine seeing better by thinking differently. That's a vision with a future, according to Harvard University psychologist Ellen Langer.

Eyesight markedly improved when people were experimentally induced to believe that they could see especially well, Langer and her colleagues report in the April Psychological Science. Such expectations actually enhanced visual clarity, rather than simply making volunteers more alert or motivated to focus on objects, they assert.

Langer's new findings build on long-standing evidence that visual perception depends not just on relaying information from the eyes to the brain but on experience-based assumptions about what can be seen in particular situations. Those expectations lead people to devote limited attention to familiar scenes and, as a result, to ignore unusual objects and events.

In perhaps the most eye-popping of Langer's new findings, 20 men and women who saw a reversed eye chart - arranged so that letters became progressively larger further down the chart, with a giant "E" at the bottom - accurately reported more letters from the smallest two lines than they did when shown a traditional eye chart with the big letters on top. All volunteers had normal eyesight.

These results reflect people's expectation, based on experience with standard eye charts, that letters are easy to see at the top and become increasingly difficult to distinguish on lower lines, the researchers suggest.

Participants who said they thought that they could improve their eyesight with practice displayed a bigger vision boost on the reversed chart than those who didn't think improvement was possible, but only for the next-to-smallest line. Both groups did equally well at reading the smallest, topmost line.

Another set of experiments included 63 members of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps at MIT. Eye testing determined that their vision ranged from below average to excellent.

An experimenter told a group of 22 cadets to assume the role of a fighter pilot while operating a flight simulator. During this exercise, participants tried to identify letters shown on four plane wings of approaching aircraft. Each wing contained one of the bottom four lines of an eye chart.

Another 20 cadets performed the visual task while pretending to fly a plane in a simulator that they were told was broken. Ten other cadets read a motivational essay before the exercise. A final group of 11 cadets didn't use a simulator but practiced eye exercises that researchers described as capable of improving eyesight before taking an eye test.

Vision improved substantially for nine of 22 simulator pilots compared with none of those who pretended to fly, two of 11 eye exercisers and one person in the motivational group. Simulator pilots did so well relative to the others because they more thoroughly adopted a mind-set of being real fighter pilots with presumably superior vision, the researchers posit. An initial survey of ROTC members found that they attributed particularly good vision to fighter pilots.

Simulator pilots with below-average vision displayed the biggest jumps in visual performance, perhaps because they had more room for improvement, the researchers suggest.

These results suggest that if eye exercise programs designed to improve vision work for some people, it's not because of any physical effect on the eyes or brain. Such regimens "may be effective because they prime the belief that exercise improves vision," Langer and her colleagues write.

Mind-set may boost visual performance without sharpening vision itself, comments psychologist Daniel Simons of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Experimental manipulations in the new study, such as reversing the arrangement of an eye chart, may have made volunteers more willing to guess when they felt a bit unsure, Simons says. Such guesses stand a good chance of being right, in his view.

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Esther's comment:  
As usual, scientists are proving Dr. Bates right, even if they think they have discovered something new...  :-)

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Eat Leafy Greens to See Clearly
31 December 2009
by Deana Ferreri, on Dr. Fuhrman's Disease Proof Blog

Carotenoids are pigments present in fruits and vegetables. An interesting fact about carotenoids is that carotenoids exert their beneficial effects by traveling to and then concentrating in specific tissues in the body. For example, lycopene, a carotenoid found in tomatoes, travels to the prostate, where it has potent anti-cancer effects.

Lutein and zeaxanthin, which are found in leafy greens like kale, travel to the central area of the retina (called the macula), and are the only known carotenoids located in the human visual system. Previous research has shown that these pigments are protective against age-related macular degeneration. Scientists now have evidence that these macular pigments also play important roles in visual performance.


Light must pass through lutein and zeaxanthin before being transmitted to photoreceptor cells that will produce a message from the light to send to the brain. As light passes through, some short wavelength (blue) light is absorbed by the macular pigments. For this reason, there was a theory that macular pigments have a light-filtering function in vision.

An analysis of several studies on the subject of macular pigments and visual performance confirms this theory. The authors evaluated the evidence and concluded that lutein and zeaxanthin likely improve the following visual functions by acting as light filters:

- Discomfort glare – For example, experiencing bright light after being in a dark room. The wavelengths that macular pigments are capable of absorbing produce the least discomfort, suggesting that macular pigments protect the eye from this overstimulation by filtering the light.

- Disability glare – Subjects with higher levels of macular pigment show improved visibility of objects in the presence of glare.

- Photostress recovery – Elevated macular pigment values decrease the time necessary to recover vision following exposure to bright light.

- Contrast – Macular pigments increase visibility and edge definition of objects in the atmosphere, possibly by absorbing blue sky light.

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Eyes Right: Three proven ways to protect your eyes and improve your vision
by Donald Norfolk  

The human eye is a miracle of optical engineering. It's amazing to think that these tiny spheres, which are slightly less than an inch in diameter and weigh just a quarter of an ounce, can far outperform the most expensive modern camera. On a clear night, with their aid, we can pick up the faint flicker of a candle burning thirty miles away. Automatically they will accommodate to variations in light intensity, providing crystal clear images in brilliant sunshine as well as darkened rooms. The flexibility of their lenses enables us to look at stars which are millions of light years away, and a few seconds later view miniscule objects which are with arms reach. This makes it possible for an expert calligrapher to write the Lord's Prayer thirty-four times on a standard-size postage stamp without the aid of a microscope or magnifying glass.

Their performance is truly amazing, but they must be treated with care if they're to work at peak efficiency. At the end of the nineteenth century Dr William Bates, an eminent American ophthalmologist, published a book which claimed that the majority of visual defects are functional in origin. They arise, not because the eyes are structurally defective, but because they're badly used. Correct the habits of faulty use, he said, and the visual problems will quickly disappear. Unfortunately not all the recommendations included in the original Bates Method of eyesight re-education have stood up to scientific scrutiny. However, three of his tips have been thoroughly substantiated. These three practices - which I'll call Bates' Triad in his honour - should become part of our daily health routine.

Seeing is a purely passive process. It doesn't require effort. There's never a need to screw up the eyes to view a distant object. Relaxation is the secret of effortless vision, just as it is with other psychomotor skills like singing and golf. Our vision deteriorates whenever we adopt a fixed stare. The sharpest visual image is obtained when light is focussed on the maculae lutea. This is the yellow spot at the back of the eye which has the densest concentration of cones, the cells responsible for daylight vision. Since we can't take in an entire scene with one fixed gaze, we must build up a composite picture in the same way that a digital photograph is made up of a number of pixels. This can only be done if we leave the eyes free to carry out an easy-going scanning process. If we fail to do this, and present our retinas with the same boring picture, our perception will wane just as it does when we cease to notice the clothes we wear through prolonged habituation to the same sensory stimulus.

Our accuracy of vision relies on the eye's prodigious ability to change its focal length. This facility is controlled by the ciliary muscles, which encircle the lens. When this ring of muscular tissue contracts the aperture is narrowed, which means the lenses bulge. This enables us to focus on nearby objects. When they relax, the lenses are drawn thinner, which has the effect of increasing their focal length. Throughout the day these muscles are constantly adjusting to our needs, making them two of the busiest muscles in the body. According to one estimate, we would need to walk fifty miles to give our leg muscles the equal amount of exercise as our ciliary muscles get in an average waking day. It's a fallacy to think that our eyes are damaged by regular use. Sportsmen and country folk generally have above average eyesight, largely because they're constantly varying the focus of their gaze. Eye strain tends to occur when we tense our ciliary muscles by staring too long at nearby objects. Anyone involved in such tasks - paper work, embroidery or peering at computer screens - should make a conscious effort to relax their eyes from time to time by looking into the distance.

The final tip is to make sure that you never get so preoccupied with staring at one particular object that you forget to blink. Blinking serves a number of vital functions. In the first place it acts like a windscreen wiper, to keep the eyes free of dust and grit. It also offers the eyes an impressive amount of cumulative rest, for while an individual blink lasts no more than three-tenths of a second, we blink about twenty times a minute. This means that we normally shield our eyes for ten per cent of the waking day. More important still, our tears serve a nutritive function. The corneal layer covering our eyes is only one cell layer thick and gets its food and oxygen from the tears which lubricate its surface. These tears also contain lysozyme, a natural bactericidal agent which kills germs and keeps the eyes more sterile than most other body surfaces. When diseases occur which dry up the tears, or paralyse the blinking mechanism, this protective function is lost and the eyes become prone to corneal ulcers.

Our eyes are so wonderfully made, that Charles Darwin feared that their complexity negated his theory of evolution. As he admitted toward the end of his life, the idea that the human eye 'could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest degree.' They are the most versatile organs we possess, and the ones which are most uniquely ours. Finger prints have thirty-five measurable characteristics, whereas our irises have 266. This makes them invaluable for identification purposes, since we're never like to meet anyone who shares the characteristics of our irises. They'll serve us well providing we don't tamper with them. One useful rule is never to touch them with anything but your elbows. Over the years the vogue has been to doctor them with a wide variety of lotions, ranging from drops of castor oil to dried hen's dung. In the eighteenth century an English nobleman suffered from eye strain and his physician advised him to 'abstain from all conjugal intercourse with his wife' for a period of twelve months. When the year was out his eyes were still tired and weak, and his wife was pregnant. This unfortunate outcome might well have been avoided had he adopted Bates' Triad of Tips. This is a regime we should all adopt: using our eyes in a relaxed fashion, varying our focus between near and distant objects, and maintaining a healthy blink rate.

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Playing outside can prevent children becoming short-sighted
By Fiona Macrae, Daily Mail, UK, 8 January 2009

Playing outdoors dramatically cuts a child's risk of becoming short-sighted, research shows.
Spending two or three hours outside each day halves the chance of developing the condition.
It challenges the belief that short-sightedness is caused by computer use, TV watching or reading in dim light.
Myopia usually develops during childhood but many adults' eyesight worsens after they start jobs in an office.
The Australian government researchers believe that sunlight triggers the release of chemicals that prevent the distortion of the eyeball - which causes the condition.

They compared the vision and habits of six and seven-year-olds in Singapore and Australia. Thirty per cent of the Singaporean children were short-sighted - ten times the Australian rate.
A similar pattern emerged when the analysis was limited to children of Chinese descent, meaning the difference could not be explained by genetics.
Both groups spent a similar amount of time reading, watching television and playing computer games. But the Australian children spent an average of two hours a day outdoors - 90 minutes more than their Asian counterparts.
Professor Ian Morgan, of the Australian Research Council's Vision Centre, said: 'We're seeing large increases in myopia among children in urban societies all around the world - and the outstanding common factor may be less and less time spent outdoors.
'The idea that reading makes you short-sighted has been popular for a couple of hundred years. But recent data shows that the time spent indoors is a more important factor.'
Professor Morgan believes natural light - which can be hundreds of times brighter than indoor light - triggers the release of dopamine.

The chemical stops the eyeball from growing out of shape and causing myopia.
Analyses in India and the US have come to a similar conclusion.

A study of Sydney children carried out last year found those who spend the most time outdoors had the best eyesight.
It concluded that three hours of natural light a day could halve the risk of short-sightedness.

Professor Morgan said humans were naturally long-sighted but there was a dramatic rise in myopia once people began intensive schooling and spent little or no time outdoors.

'In some East Asian cities 80-90 per cent of children are affected - and governments and the World Health Organisation are very worried about it,' he said.

Researcher Dr Kathryn Rose said: 'Our evidence suggests that the key factor is being outdoors and it does not matter if that time is spent having a picnic or playing sport.
'Both will protect a child's eyes from growing excessively, which is a major cause of myopia.'

A similar article based on the same research appeared on May 4, 2012.

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(This article was submitted by R. in London, England.  Thanks!)
Esther's comment:  
I totally agree that more time spent outside is healthy and good for our vision, and this goes for ALL of us, not just children.  The last line in this article is a shame, as it is incorrect and just repeating a long-standing myth.  Myopia is not caused by eyes 'growing excessively'; it is simply due to eye-strain, and releasing that strain will bring the eye-ball back to its normal shape and clear vision.

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Editorial in 'Networking Times', September 2008

Visions of Joy

Relaxing into Clarity

By Josephine Gross, Ph.D.

As we were creating this issue on midlife, aging and retirement, my birthday came along. A few days prior, at my local health food store, a flyer on the message board titled "Visions of Joy" had caught my eye.

I've always believed it possible to maintain perfect vision throughout the aging process, and here was my birthday gift: a program on natural vision improvement.

Being in my mid-forties, I was experiencing the first symptoms of presbyopia or middle-aged vision: 
when trying to read in the early morning or at night, small print would appear blurry.

I had mentioned this to my healthcare practitioner and asked if anything could be done, and she had said, it's a battle you can't win. The muscles that bend and straighten the lenses weaken with age, making it harder to focus as the eyes move from one point to another.

Why do the muscles weaken? Research indicates this is a functional problem, a consequence of incorrect usage of the vision apparatus. What if we could retrain the eyes to behave the way they were meant to? I offered myself a session with a natural vision educator, and here's what I learned:

  • To see clearly, we need to relax our eyes. Straining to see better actually causes more blur, not sharper vision. When we stop trying, seeing comes to us.
  • The blur is our friend: it signals us to become aware of strained vision habits: staring, squinting, infrequent blinking, shallow breathing.
  • Relaxed vision habits include seeing from the back of the head, central fixation (focusing on one small point at a time) and palming the eyes while breathing deeply.

Since I adopted these basic principles, I no longer need reading glasses! During this healing process I was also enjoying Marianne Williamson's latest book, The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Midlife. Here are some insights I received from connecting the two experiences:

  • Age forces us from moving fast and furious to living more slowly, deeply and with greater focus.
  • The major challenges we face today require not more effort, but more wisdom. More than ever, we need to remember the way we were meant to live.
  • If the most creative work we can do is the work of consciousness, then there is no point in straining or hurrying to "get more done."

The new midlife is a time of commitment to one's highest values, characterized by an appetite for new beginnings and personal reinvention. Today, millions of baby boomers are reaching the age of wisdom, slowing down to start living the dreams of their youth, aching to make the world a better place. With its potential for personal growth, financial freedom and social contribution, your business opportunity could be their ultimate vehicle to manifest their visions of joy.

DR. JOSEPHINE GROSS is Cofounder and Editor in Chief of Networking Times.

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Windows on the Mind
By Susana Martinez-Conde and Stephen L Macknik, Scientific American, August 2007 issue.

Once scorned as nervous tics, certain tiny, unconscious flicks of the eyes now turn out to underpin much of our ability to see. These movements may even reveal subliminal thoughts.  

As you read this, your eyes are rapidly flicking from left to right in small hops, bringing each word sequentially into focus. When you stare at a person's face, your eyes will similarly dart here and there, resting momentarily on one eye, the other eye, nose, mouth and other features. With a little introspection, you can detect this frequent flexing of your eye muscles as you scan a page, face or scene.

But these large voluntary eye movements, called saccades, turn out to be just a small part of the daily workout your eye muscles get.  Your eyes never stop moving, even when they are apparently settled, say, on a person's nose or a sailboat bobbing on the horizon.  When the eyes fixate on something, as they do for 80 percent of your waking hours, they still jump and jiggle imperceptibly in ways that turn out to be essential for seeing.  If you could somehow halt these miniature motions while fixing your gaze, a static scene would simply fade from view.

And yet only recently have researchers come to appreciate the profound importance of such "fixational" eye movements. For five decades, a debate has raged about whether the largest of these involuntary movements, the so-called microsaccades, serve any purpose at all.  Some scientist have opined that microsaccades might even impair eyesight by blurring it.  But recent work in the laboratory of one of us (Martinez-Conde) at the Barrow Neurological Institute in Phoenix has made the strongest case yet that these minuscule ocular meanderings separate vision from blindness when a person looks out at a stationary world.
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Esther's comment:  
The article goes on to describe how saccadic movement is necessary for vision, that  these movements are linked to our attention, and that staring means fading of vision.  Dr William H Bates, MD knew all this a century ago and wrote about it in his 1920 book Perfect Sight Without Glasses.  Although this information obviously isn't 'new', it's a pretty good article.

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Economic Impact of Vision Problems in the U.S. Estimated at $51.4 Billion
New Report Highlights Increasing Burden of Vision Problems on Americans

CHICAGO (April 18, 2007) - Prevent Blindness America today released a new report estimating the costs associated with adult vision problems in the United States at $51.4 billion. The Economic Impact of Vision Problems: The Toll of Major Adult Eye Disorders, Visual Impairment, and Blindness on the U.S. Economy provides both the costs to the individual and their caregivers, and the impact on the U.S. economy of vision conditions including age-related macular degeneration (AMD), cataract, diabetic retinopathy, primary open-angle glaucoma, refractive error, visual impairment and blindness.

Read the rest of this Press release
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Esther's comment:  
According to Richard Wallingford, OD, president of the American Optometric Association, approximately 25 percent of all school aged children have vision problems.  
"Sixty percent of people aged 65 and over have cataracts nationwide, and that (percentage) increases with age" says John Ciccone, director of communications for the American Society of Cataract and Refractive Surgery in Fairfax, VA, 

These numbers are an indication of the enormity of the problem of vision deterioration.  I've heard estimates that more than 80% of the population in the USA has vision problems.  Our eyesight challenges seem to be getting worse, not better, despite well over 32,000 optometrists (according to the AOA website) currently in practice in the United States alone.  What is wrong with this picture?!?  

Optometrists advise us to have regular, preferably annual, eye exams, so they can prescribe compensating lenses at the earliest sign of vision deterioration.  However, the obvious tendency is for vision to get worse, not better, when glasses or contacts are worn.  Glasses are a nuisance, contacts are not much better, and in general most users of compensating lenses are not satisfied with having to use these crutches for the rest of their lives.  Out of despair people turn to laser operations in large numbers, while cataract sufferers wait for the 'ripening' of their cataracts so they can have lens replacement surgery.  
Is there another option?  Is there a natural approach to solving these many vision challenges?

Dr William H Bates, MD, discovered that eye-strain is the major cause of vision deterioration and he set out to find the solution.  He concluded that the tension on the muscles around the eyes could be released by simple relaxation techniques, and that applying these techniques resulted in a speedy return to clear vision for most people.  His methods are still taught today, even if few teachers have a thorough understanding of how to apply it.  Still, the key to reducing the cost and number of vision problems IS available.  Those who have eyes to see, will find it...
(see also a more extensive article on this subject written by Esther Joy van der Werf.)

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Court Orders Vision Improvement Technologies to End Sales of "See Clearly Method" Kit 
(
Iowa Office of the Attorney General, 2 November 2006)

DES MOINES.   The Polk County District Court has ordered Vision Improvement Technologies, Inc., to stop all sales immediately of its so-called natural vision improvement kit called the "See Clearly Method." The Court also ordered the Fairfield company to pay $200,000 for consumer restitution.

The Court order resolves a consumer fraud lawsuit filed last year by Attorney General Tom Miller, which alleged that the company could not substantiate claims that the "See Clearly Method" improved people's vision so much that they would no longer need glasses or contact lenses.

The "See Clearly Method" was a kit of manuals, charts, videos and audio-tapes demonstrating eye exercises and other techniques, such as focusing eyes using special charts or props, facing a bright light with eyes closed at a distance of a few inches, covering eyes with hands for sustained periods, and applying hot and cold wash cloths over closed eyes. The company sold tens of thousands of the kits for about $350 apiece.

"The company made dramatic claims for its product that it could not substantiate," Miller said. "They represented that consumers who used the method could quickly and easily free themselves of having to wear glasses or contact lenses. They used illegal tactics including exaggerated claims of effectiveness, false implications of scientific validity, and misleading consumer testimonials in advertising," he said.

"We also alleged that a so-called 'risk-free' 30-day trial period was deceptively presented and ended up forcing many consumers to pay hundreds of dollars apiece for a product that they wanted to return because it did not help them," Miller said.
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Esther's comment:
I agree with the court order, and I am glad this product will no longer be for sale.  I am eager for people to learn about natural vision improvement through the Bates Method, yet products like the See Clearly Method mislead many people into believing that natural vision improvement involves eye exercises.  It doesn't.  People who have good vision do not do eye exercises.  Blurry vision is not due to a lack of eye exercises!  Therefore eye exercises are not the solution.  Muscles that are tight from strain do not need exercises put on top of their strain.  They need relaxation first and foremost.  Learn the Bates Method from an experienced teacher, and you'll soon know the difference.  Actually, you'll SEE the difference.

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the eye of god photo from Hubble telescope

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A little off-track, but hey, forgive me...
This image is titled 'The Eye of God' and was taking by NASA's Hubble Telescope.

Worth seeing, wouldn't you agree?

Now that we're on this subject...
I heard that the Universe has a few 'Black Holes' in it somewhere, which gobble up light, which is then never to be seen again.  
I think those scientists are definitely looking beyond their own noses (that's a Dutch expression), because we all possess a couple of black holes, which gobble up light, never to be seen again....

those black holes are right in the middle of our very own irises...
  
I'm talking about:
  Pupils !



The harder you look, the less you see  30 September 2006  BBC NEWS
The harder you focus on something, the less well you may actually see it, US researchers have discovered.

This paradox, described in Nature Neuroscience, might explain how it is possible to miss visual cues.
Volunteers asked to pay close attention to black and white stripes were less able to discern them as a result.
The New York University team believe prolonged attention to an unchanging image effectively 'exhausts' vision after helping it initially.
Eye seen through magnifier
Sustained attention can actually worsen perception

Usually when we attend to something performance is better.  But not always" 
~ Researcher Marisa Carrasco

Researchers know that it is easier to see objects when there is more contrast between their lighter and darker areas.
Previous work has suggested that paying closer attention to or focusing on an object makes it easier to see by effectively increasing this contrast.  Although focusing your sight on an object is helpful initially, investigators Samuel Ling and Marisa Carrasco found that this benefit soon fades.

Dr Carrasco explained: "Usually when we attend to something performance is better. But not always.  "If, for example, you are monitoring a screen and all the time you attend to a particular location on that screen then you are not going to be sensitive after a while. "It's really paradoxical because you would think you are doing your best by focusing your attention."

Evolutionary advantage
The researchers believe this paradox may have an evolutionary advantage.  For example, tuning out visual information that you have already processed frees up the brain's limited resources to detect changes in other parts of the environment - a necessary ability for animals preyed upon in the wild.  But this can also backfire, Dr Will Curran, from the School of Psychology at Queen's University of Belfast, pointed out.  Predators can take advantage of this too, staying still for prolonged periods between intermittent advances on their prey until they are within striking distance, he said.

Professor Peter McOwan, professor of Computer Science at Queen Mary, University of London, said: "These results show a fascinating new kind of attentional illusion - the longer you 'look' the less you 'see'.  "Discovering and examining illusions like these will really help us understand how human perception works.  "Visual attention helps us decide what's important, and understanding how this works in humans may allow us to build smarter computer vision systems that know what to look for."

The researchers stressed that their findings should not be any cause for real concern in everyday life.
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Esther's comment:  
Did they really think they discovered something new here?  The 'longer you look', the harder you try,  the more you stare, the worse the image gets!  Dr Bates knew this a century ago!  He said we should never try to see anything.
Well, they finally figure something out that's true, and then downplay the truth by saying there "should not be any cause for real concern in everyday life".  So please ignore this discovery, keep staring, else we'll have an increase in people who see well...

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Watching TV can make you myopic
The Hindustan Times, January 5, 2006 (thanks to Adam Schwarz for submitting this article)

A new study has revealed that an excessive indoor lifestyle is the sole reason for the epidemic proportions of myopia in East Asian countries.  According to the researchers, children who spend most of the time indoors, either glaring at their computer games or glued to the television or read excessively, are most likely to suffer from myopia.

"As kids spend more time indoors, on computers or watching telly, we are going to become just as myopic," Ian Morgan of the Australian National University in Canberra was quoted by New Scientist as saying.  In countries like Singapore, the problem of short sightedness has increased to such an extent that departments like the police are having problems in finding
people who meet their requirements of 6/6 eyesight and the number of myopic men in army has gone risen to as high as 80 per cent.

To unravel the reason behind such a high number of myopic cases in this region Ian Morgan and Kathryn Rose from University of Sydney studied 40 cases and have refuted the conventional view that people here suffer from sight problems
due to genetic causes.  For instance, 70 per cent of 18-year-old men of Indian origin living in Singapore have myopia, while in India itself the rate is roughly 10 per cent.  "The simplest explanation is that you have a massive environmental effect that is swamping out the genetic influence," Morgan added.
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Esther's comment: 
Good to see that the idea of myopia being due to genetics is under scrutiny.  I believe that those who spend many hours watching TV or computer screens can avoid nearsightedness if they learn to use their eyes correctly.

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Smoking Nearly Triples Risk of Age-Linked Vision Loss
Smoking greatly increases the risk of vision loss due to age-related macular degeneration, and that risk hits both smokers and people who live with them, a new study shows.
Macular degeneration is a progressive eye disease that is the leading cause of partial vision loss and blindness in the United States and many European countries.  Reporting in the current issue (December 2005) of the British Journal of Ophthalmology, researchers studied 435 people with end-stage macular degeneration and 280 people who lived with them.

People who regularly smoked a pack of cigarettes or more a day for 40 years had nearly triple the risk of age-related macular degeneration compared with non-smokers.  Smoking increased the risk of both of the two main types of macular degeneration, the researches noted.  However, quitting smoking for 20 years or more reduced the risk to a level comparable with people who'd never smoked.  The study also found that non-smokers who lived with smokers for five years or more had nearly double the risk of age-related macular degeneration.
The macula, located at the center of the retina at the back of the eye, is crucial for the fine central vision necessary for tasks such as driving and reading.

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Dr Grace Halloran - Obituary

The Family, friends and associates wish to share with you the life and accomplishments of Dr. Grace Halloran. Following cardiac arrest Grace passed away on June 23rd and a celebration of her life was held on June 27th. It is our hope to continue The Visual Healing Program and setup a foundation in her memory so that her important work will continue.

Over a span of thirty years Grace sought ways to improve and maintain her vision and the vision of her family members who had Retinitis Pigmentosa, a genetic eye condition. Grace set out to help others around the world that were losing their sight and their hope. Through her many years of research, study and seeking answers Grace gained the knowledge to develop The Visual Healing Program. Grace proved to be an inspiration to so many people facing visual challenges, and made a difference to thousands. It was both rewarding and uplifting for Grace to hear about the improvement and the success that came to the Visual Healing patients. This was the beginning of an incredible journey for our 'Amazing Grace' that eventually reached all parts of the world. Her life's work revolved around education on eye health and giving hope to others wherever and whenever it was needed.

We know that Grace was here to advise and encourage any of you, whether she had just met you or worked with you for many years. We hope Grace's spirit will remain with you reminding you that "you are doing a great job, keep up with the Micro Stim, exercises, nutrition and color therapy!"
The family and staff at The Visual Healing offices will remain available to accept your calls and emails as your questions may arise. Please continue to check the website, www.visualhealing.com, for program and foundation information updates.

Warmest Regards,
The family and friends of Dr. Grace Halloran

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Phytonutrients Are Essential for Healthy Eyes

What Are Phytonutrients? Phytonutrients are chemicals that plants use to perform metabolic functions. It more recent use has come to mean plant chemicals that humans eat for nourishment and therapeutic reasons.
Classifications under Phytonutrients include: phytosterols, saponins, phenoics, pectins and soluble fibers. Examples from each subgroup include flax, pumpkin and sesame seed (phyotsterols), fenugreek and ginseng (saponins), cherries and green tea (phenolics), apples and prunes (pectins), and oat beta glucan and rice bran (soluble fibers).

Carotenoids are a fat soluble groups of naturally occurring plant pigments under the classification of terpenes. They act as powerful antioxidants and immuno-potentiaters. Diets rich in carotenoids are linked with a decreased risk of heart disease, cancer, and degenerative eye diseases such as macular degeneration and cataracts. Two of the most important carotenoids for degenerative eye conditions are lutein and zeaxanthin. Leafy green vegetables contain mostly lutein and zeaxanthin. Carrots, oranges, sweet potatoes and squash contain mainly carotenoids. The yellow yolk of eggs is rich in lutein, and the astaxanthin group from red algae is what makes salmon pink.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are the only carotenoids identified in the macula. There they filter blue light from the retina and inhibit oxidative damage. Such damage leads to macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in those over 65.

There are approximately 600 known carotenoids, 50 of which are present in our diets. Mostly from fruits and vegetables. Chemically, carotenoids are classified into two main groups, carotenes and xanopylls (for example lutein, zeaxanthin and beta-cryptoxanthin. Others include alpha-carotene, beta-carotene and cryptoxanthin which are the main vitamin A precursors). Carotenoids are considered potent membrane antioxidants due to their reactivity with singlet oxygen.

What is singlet oxygen? Singlet oxygen participates in oxidative reactions which can impair or destroy important cellular components, such as membranes, nucleic acids (DNA), and enzymes. In addition, singlet oxygen reactions can generate free radicals which lead to further damage. Singlet oxygen often contribute to damage in the retina. In a healthy retina, singlet oxygen is neutralized naturally by phytonutrients as described above.

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Study Offers New Evidence That Leafy Green Veggies Protect Eyes and Prevent Damage to the Lens of the Eye
Source: Chitchiumroonchokchai, C. Journal of Nutrition, December 2004; vol 134: pp 3225-3232

In a recent study published in the December issue of the Journal of Nutrition, researchers examined the effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on samples of human eye lens cells in the laboratory. They also compared the effects of these antioxidants on the cells to the effects of another antioxidant thought to improve eye health, vitamin E. Researchers treated the cells with various concentrations of the antioxidants and then exposed them to ultraviolet radiation.

"The dose of UVB radiation we used on the cells is about the same amount a person receives when they get a mild tan," says Bomser. Adding lutein and zeaxanthin to the cells reduced signs of ultraviolet damage by 50%-60%. Vitamin E reduced the same signs of damage by 25%-32%.
"Lutein and zeaxanthin accumulate in the retina and in the lens of the eye, but we're not sure how they reach the eye in the first place," says Bomser. "They travel through the bloodstream, but the lens doesn't have a blood supply."

This study provides new evidence that these antioxidants, which are found in plants such as spinach, kale, and collard greens, can indeed help prevent cataracts by protecting the eyes from the damaging effects of ultraviolet sunlight.
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Dr Marc Grossman's note: 
Along with lutein and zeaxanthin, we recommend nutrients that help build glutathione and vitamin C in the lens of the eyes which have been shown in studies to be significantly deficient in the eyes lens of those with cataracts. For more information, go to www.visionworksusa.com

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Heavy Computer Use Linked to Glaucoma
Source: Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, December 2004; vol 58: PP 1021-1027

Spending too much time looking at a computer screen may raise your risk of the vision-robbing eye disease glaucoma, particularly if you're nearsighted, according to a new Japanese study.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that ultimately cause damage to the optic nerve. It can lead to blindness if not treated. Heavy computer users who were farsighted or nearsighted seemed to have a higher risk for visual field abnormalities, say the researchers.

Dr Marc Grossman's Note: The reason why computer users may have increased risk of glaucoma is very possibly due to the excess strain on the eyes due to prolonged focusing for long periods of time on the computer. This may overtime increase intracular pressure (IOP) resulting in glaucoma.
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Esther's comment:  
One helpful way to preserve vision for computer users is to install Computer Break Reminder software on your computer, and learn natural vision habits to reduce eye strain.  See the Solutions page.

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Lead Exposure at Levels Commonly Seen Linked to Cataracts
from Journal of the American Medical Association, December 8, 2004, with comments of Dr Mercola

It's long been known that exposure to lead, even at low levels, might increase the risk of numerous age-related diseases. Now, to add one more to the list, a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has found that long-term lead exposure increases the risk of cataracts, cloudy areas in the lens of the eye that cause vision problems and even blindness.

The study, which included close to 800 men in their late 60s and spanned nine years, was prompted by the fact that lead causes oxidative damage in body tissues, and cataracts are known to be related to such oxidative damage.

It was found that men with the most lead in their bones were 2.7 times more likely to have cataracts than those with the least lead. Bone lead levels, which are more stable over time, were used in order to determine the effects of long-term exposure, as lead levels in the blood can vary over the short term. No link was found between cataracts and lead levels in the blood, which suggests the incidence of cataracts was associated with exposure to lead over several years or more.

Researchers said being exposed to lead over time at levels commonly experienced by U.S. adults appears to be an important risk factor for cataracts. They suggested that reducing lead exposure could help to decrease the "global burden of cataract," but added that additional studies are needed to confirm the finding.

They also pointed out the importance of protecting yourself from lead exposure in your environment by taking the following measures:

Don't use lead-based paint
Make sure there's no lead in your drinking water
Don't smoke (there's lead in cigarette smoke)
Minimize work-related lead exposure
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Dr. Mercola's Comment:
In another article in this newsletter issue I shared some results from a comprehensive study about mercury and, sadly, how its toxicity is still very much up for debate on the side of conventional medicine. How lead, as mentioned in the above article, merits concern and mercury is downplayed makes no sense to me whatsoever. But I digress ...

The fact that health problems associated with environmental exposures to heavy metals like lead are being addressed is a positive step. As I wrote in a past article titled Five Common Toxic Metals to Avoid the major sources of lead in the environment are

Lead-based paint
Leaded gasoline
Lead-contaminated water
Manufacturing of lead batteries
Rubber products
Glass and other lead-containing products
Lead oxide fumes that result when industrial buildings are demolished
Living near an incinerator or toxic dump
If you're thinking that it sounds difficult to avoid lead exposure given this long list of sources, you are correct. It is very difficult, if not impossible, to completely avoid environmental contaminants like lead and other heavy metals. But there are some things that can help:

- Check your tap water for lead (low-level exposure to lead, such as through drinking water is associated with brain dysfunction in children, neurobehavioral changes in adults, hypertension and chronic kidney disease)
- Purchase a shower filter to reduce absorption of lead through the skin, nose and mouth
- Beware of peeling or flaking paint, especially in older homes that used lead-based paints
- Eat as much organic food as possible, and don't eat food from lead-soldered cans
- Avoid dishes with ceramic glazes that could contain lead
- Don't smoke -- cigarette smoke contains lead
- Avoid lead crystal dishware
- Children are more susceptible to lead absorption than adults, so it's especially important to keep them away from toxic areas like demolition sites or dumps
- If you are exposed to lead while on the job, consider changing occupations (more than 800,000 U.S. workers are exposed to lead through their work)
- Don't wrap food in the printed side of plastic bags -- the ink may contain lead that could leach into your food

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Lifestyle Blamed for Rise in Myopia in East Asia
(Thanks to Dror Schneider for submitting this.)
LONDON (Reuters, Wednesday July 7, 2004) - A rise in myopia, or nearsightedness, in east Asia is due to lifestyle changes and not genetics, a science magazine said on Wednesday.
Genetic variations that make people more susceptible to myopia were thought to be the cause of the increase in the vision problem in countries such as Singapore and Japan where cases have risen sharply.

But Ian Morgan, of the Australian National University in Canberra, said there is no evidence to support the genetic theory and added that the rise in myopia is due to lifestyle changes, particularly hours spent indoors reading or in front of a computer or television.

"Children now spend much of their time focusing on close objects, such as books or computers," New Scientist magazine said. "To compensate, the eyeball is thought to grow longer. That way less effort is needed to focus up close, but the elongated eye can no longer focus on distant objects."

People with myopia have difficulty seeing objects at a distance, or reading signs but can do close-up tasks and read. The magazine said the rate of myopia in India is about 10 percent but that 70 percent of 18-year-old men of Indian origin in Singapore have myopia.

Morgan and Kathryn Rose, of the University of Sydney, also cited a study in Israel which found that 80 percent of teenage boys studying in religious schools that emphasized reading texts had myopia, compared to 30 percent in state schools. "As kids spend more time indoors, on computers or watching telly, we are going to become just as myopic," said Morgan.

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Roberto Kaplan, OD, FCOVD, speaks at United Nations in Vienna, 24 June 2004

Dr. Roberto Kaplan was invited to talk about his integrated approach to vision therapy at the Vienna International Center at the U.N. in Vienna, Austria. Along with New York, Geneva and Nairobi, Vienna is one of the four Headquarters duty stations of the United Nations. More than 4,000 employees from over 100 countries work for the Vienna International Center (VIC) - based organizations.
Dr. Kaplan shared his ideas of the causes and development of nearsightedness and its implication on the consciousness of the citizens of the world. "We are fast approaching a world epidemic of blindness of reality because of myopic perceptions," Kaplan asserted, quoting the series of papers titled: Seeing Beyond the Obvious, published in the Journal of College of Optometrists in Vision Development."
It is time for conventional medicine to recognize the power of vision therapy as being a vital part of complimentary medicine," urged Dr. Kaplan. The talk focused on his two books: "The Power Behind Your Eyes" and "Conscious Seeing." Being a conscious person needs a healthy operating visual system. Vision therapy is an established scientific discipline within Optometry that has a vital role to play in helping persons recognize when they are seeing accurately or misperceiving. Undetected vision problems, especially a lack of coordination of the two eyes, can cause persons of all ages to see inaccurately how they are behaving.
Those who heard Dr. Kaplan applauded how the lecture illuminated a new dimension to the role of vision in being an instrument for enhancing consciousness. Kaplan sees his role in having vision therapy be more recognized as a powerful healing discipline in helping accomplish happier family relationships, less aggression and world peace.

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(Thanks Dave, for sending this article and for your humorous approach! ~ EJvdW)
From: David Kiesling, of www.iblindness.org
Subject: Study: Not all kids with glasses need them

See the article below. Does it make you want to just pound your head against the wall? Or, at least, shake your head and marvel at the utter hopelessness of their approach?  I don't know what they think the reason is for all the misdiagnoses, but the answer is staring them in the face and they don't see it.

So what do you think? Will they actually start thinking that vision changes over short periods of time? Or will they conclude that it was the work of improperly wielded power of Refractollo, God of Measurement, and move onto finding a relationship between glaucoma and some obscure chemical?
But no, think loving thoughts... OMMMMMMMMMM.....

Dave
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Study: Not all kids with glasses need them
By Liz Szabo, USA TODAY, June 23, 2004

A study out today finds that up to 20% of children with normal eyes who undergo comprehensive vision exams may be prescribed glasses they don't need.

In an article published online in the Journal of the American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus, researchers examined the records of more than 100,000 preschoolers who were screened through a statewide program in Tennessee.

More than 3,600 children were referred to specialists for follow-ups because of suspected disorders, such as lazy eye, according to the study. About one-quarter, or 890, were found to have no eye problems. Yet nearly one in five of these children were prescribed glasses.

Some health professionals were more likely to misdiagnose kids than others, said Sean Donahue, lead study author and an associate professor of ophthalmology, pediatrics and neurology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Optometrists prescribed glasses 35% of the time; general ophthalmologists, 12%; and pediatric
ophthalmologists, 2%, shows the study.

To Donahue, that suggests that optometrists and ophthalmologists who usually treat adults may not have as much expertise with children. Many youngsters are slightly farsighted, he said, although most will grow out of the condition without glasses. (emphasis added by EJvdW)

While many doctors recommend that preschoolers should be screened for vision problems, experts disagree about the best approach. Kentucky requires that youngsters undergo comprehensive eye exams before beginning school.

Donahue said states should think carefully about such expenses before following Kentucky's example. Given the high level of misdiagnoses, Donahue said, such laws could be expensive. Glasses cost about $150; exams add another $100.

Instead of forcing all preschoolers to get a formal exam, he said, kids could be screened by doctors, teachers, nurses or others, then referred to eye specialists for further examination.

Susan Taub, an assistant professor of ophthalmology at Northwestern University, said she is concerned that many children suffer from undiagnosed eye disorders, which can cause permanent damage or hurt their ability to learn.

Doctors still do not know which tests or technology work best, Taub said. "This does need further study," she said. "We don't want kids to fall through the cracks."

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Fruit 'helps prevent eye disease'
(Story from BBC NEWS, Published: 2004/06/14 23:18:30 GMT)

Eating fruit could protect against an age-related eye disease which can cause blindness, research suggests. Researchers from the Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston followed the progress of over 118,000 people for between 12 and 18 years.

Those who ate three or more servings of fruit a day were 36% less likely to develop age-related maculopathy than people who ate less than 1.5 per day. The study is published in the Archives of Ophthalmology.

Age-related maculopathy, or age-related macular degeneration, is the leading cause of blindness in people over 65. The condition is caused by the deterioration of the macula, a part of the light sensitive layer in the eye called the retina. The cells either break down, or the tissue is damaged by the growth of blood vessels under the retina. There is a treatment for the condition, but no cure.
Previous research has shown antioxidant vitamin and mineral supplementation protects against the condition, and that supplementation with high-doses of vitamins C and E, beta carotene and zinc delays its progress.

Diet survey
The researchers in this study looked at how the amount of fruit, vegetables and vitamins people ate related to their risk of developing the eye disease. They followed 77,562 women who were part of the Nurses' Health Study and
40,866 men who were taking part in the Health Professionals Follow-up Study. All were at least 50 years old when the study began with no diagnosis of ARM. Women were followed for up to 18 years, and men were followed for up to 12 years.

Women completed questionnaires about their diets up to five times over the follow-up period (in 1980, 1984, 1986, 1990 and 1994), and men three times, in 1986, 1990, and 1994. They also reported their vitamin and supplement use once every two years. Over the follow-up period, 329 women and 135 men were diagnosed with early stage ARM, and 217 women and 99 men with neovascular ARM, a more severe type of the condition.

While three or more portions of fruit a day was found to significantly cut someone's risk of developing neovascular ARM - a severe form of the disease, eating more vegetables did not appear to hold any benefit. Bananas and oranges were strongly linked with protective benefits.

Researchers also found that levels of antioxidant vitamins or carotenoids - compounds responsible for the red, yellow and orange pigments found in some fruits and vegetables - were not directly related to ARM risk.

Food versus supplements
Writing in the journal, the researchers led by Dr Eunyoung Cho, said: "Fruit intake was inversely related to age-related maculopathy, particularly neovascular ARM, the form of this disease that frequently involves severe vision loss. "Since none of the antioxidants or carotenoids contributed substantially, other factors may also contribute to the reduced risk."

They suggest other constituents of fruits with potential health benefit include flavanoids, fibre, folate and potassium.

Catherine Collins, a dietician based at St George's Hospital in London, said the study findings made sense because certain substances found in fruit had specific benefits for eye health. She said the beneficial link with fruit may have been clearer in this study because people did not eat enough of lutein-rich vegetables such as spinach for them to have a noticeable effect. She added: "There are substances in foods which give you extra benefits
compared to vitamin and mineral supplements."

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Shortsightedness may be tied to refined diet

05 April 2002 Exclusive from New Scientist Print Edition.
(http://www.newscientist.com/news/print.jsp?id=ns99992120)

The food children eat might play as big a role as books and computer screens when it comes to causing shortsightedness

Diets high in refined starches such as breads and cereals increase insulin levels. This affects the development of the eyeball, making it abnormally long and causing shortsightedness, suggests a team led by Loren Cordain, an evolutionary biologist at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, and Jennie Brand Miller, a nutrition scientist at the University of Sydney.

The theory could help explain the dramatic increase in myopia in developed countries over the past 200 years. It now affects 30 per cent of people of European descent, for example.

"The rate of starch digestion is faster with modern processed breads and cereals," says Brand Miller. In response to this rapid digestion, the pancreas pumps out more insulin. High insulin is known to lead to a fall in levels of insulin-like binding protein-3, the team points out.

That could disturb the delicate choreography that normally coordinates eyeball lengthening and lens growth. And if the eyeball grows too long, the lens can no longer flatten itself enough to focus a sharp image on the retina, they suggest.

"Overnight epidemics"
"It's a very surprising idea," says James Mertz, a biochemist at the New England College of Optometry in Boston. But it's plausible, says Bill Stell of the University of Calgary in Canada. "It wouldn't surprise me at all. Those of us who work with local growth factors within the eye would have no problem with that - in fact we would expect it."

Metz's institution is now planning studies in animals. But there is already evidence to support the theory. While fewer than one per cent of the Inuit and Pacific islanders had myopia early in the last century, these rates have since skyrocketed to as high as 50 per cent. These "overnight epidemics" have usually been blamed on the increase in reading following the sudden advent of literacy and compulsory schooling in these societies.

But while reading may play a role, it does not explain why the incidence of myopia has remained low in societies that have adopted Western lifestyles but not Western diets, says Cordain.

"In the islands of Vanuatu they have eight hours of compulsory schooling a day," he says, "yet the rate of myopia in these children is only two per cent." The difference is that Vanuatuans eat fish, yam and coconut rather than white bread and cereals.

The theory is also consistent with observations that people are more likely to develop myopia if they are overweight or have adult-onset diabetes, both of which involve elevated insulin levels. The progression of myopia has also been shown to be slower in children whose protein consumption is increased.

Journal reference: Acta Ophthalmologica Scandinavica (vol 80, p 125)

Douglas Fox

© Copyright Reed Business Information Ltd

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Myopia and ambient lighting at night
13 May 1999, Nature magazine
by Graham E. Quinn, Chai H. Shin, Maureen G. Maguire, Richard A. Stone

Read the entire article here.
Researchers found a strong association between myopia (nearsightedness) and night-time ambient light exposure during sleep in children before they reach two years of age.

The prevalence of myopia and high myopia during childhood was strongly associated with ambient light exposure during sleep at night in the first two years after birth. The relation between refraction and night-time light was dose dependent, as a greater proportion of children became myopic if they slept at night during their first two years with room lighting rather than with a night light.
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Esther's comment: According to this research, a small 'night-light' in the room during the first two years of life increased the child's chance of myopia three-fold, while a room-light in those first two years of the child's life caused a five times higher prevelance of myopia later on.

This is one possible cause of myopia that is easy to prevent. Remove LED clocks and any artificial light sources that stay on at night from your baby's bedroom. Block outdoor artificial lights (street lamps) as much as possible with curtains. The changing light from the moon is natural and the gradual morning light increase from sunrise is a benefit to the eyes and to the balance of the sleep-wake cycle, so if there is no outside light coming in, regular curtains are sufficient.



Heresy
Friar Roger Bacon, a Franciscan monk, was imprisoned for heresy in the late thirteenth century for writing about the merits of spectacles.
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Esther's comment:
That's from a time when common sense was actually common....
 

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