Light and the Eyes


Sunlight Is Also Important for the Prevention of Blindness

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As explained by Dr. Alexander Wunsch, a world class expert on photobiology, full-spectrum light such as sunlight is also a significant factor in blindness and optimal health. More specifically, the widespread use of energy efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs) may be setting the stage for an avalanche of AMD in coming decades. The reason for this is because LED lighting has no near-infrared light, emitting primarily blue light, and this has biological consequences that impair your vision over time.The heat generated by incandescent light bulbs (which is infrared radiation) is actually highly beneficial to your health, and hence worth the extra energy cost. In your eyes, the near-infrared light range primes the cells in your retina for repair and regeneration from the damage blue light causes in the retina. Meanwhile, LEDs, which have virtually no infrared and an excess of blue light, generates reactive oxygen species (ROS) instead.You do need some blue light, especially in the morning for melatonin production, but you need it to be balanced with the healing and repairing red and near-infrared frequencies, like it is in natural sunlight.This explains why LEDs are so harmful for your eyes and overall health. The same applies to electronic screens such as TVs, computers, tablets and smartphones. They all emit primarily blue light, and the excess ROS generation may have a great deal to do with the deterioration of vision. The blue light is also deleterious for your circadian rhythm. Electronic screens should be avoided at least a couple of hours before bedtime to avoid suppressing melatonin production.Interestingly, research22 shows that infrared light exposure may even reverse AMD. Even more remarkable, infrared light over the thyroid area has been shown to reverse hypothyroidism! It seems the more we learn about light, the more crucial it appears to be for biological functioning and optimal health. It’s important to realize that light is actually a significant part of the equation for biological energy production, specifically at the mitochondrial ATP level. Hence it affects your overall health, not just your eyes.Importantly, full-spectrum light — light that includes the near-infrared spectrum (750 to 1400 nanometers [nm]) — generates structured water in your cells, which plays an important role in biological functioning, including your cardiovascular function. To learn more about this, please see my interview with Dr. Thomas Cowan. I also discuss this in my recent article, “Water Supports Health in Ways You May Never Have Suspected.”In summary, to protect your eyesight and overall health, be sure to get bright sun exposure especially in the early part of the day and, when indoors, use clear (not white-coated) incandescent light bulbs in areas where you spend most of your time. Candles can also be used, especially at night, and are even better and healthier than incandescents.I also believe it is imperative to use blue-blocking glasses after sunset, unless the only light exposure you have is candles. Once you have your glasses on, it doesn’t matter what kind of light bulbs you use.

Candles — Another Healthy Light Alternative

Candles are even a better light source than incandescent bulbs, as there is no electricity involved and is the light our ancestors have used for many millennia, so our bodies are already adapted to it. The only problem is that you need to be careful about using just any old candle, as most are toxic.As you may or may not know, many candles available today are riddled with toxins, especially paraffin candles. Did you know that paraffin is a petroleum by-product created when crude oil is refined into gasoline? Further, a number of known carcinogens and toxins are added to the paraffin to increase burn stability, not including the potential for lead added to wicks, and soot invading your lungs.To complicate matters, a lot of candles, both paraffin and soy, are corrupted with toxic dyes and fragrances; some soy candles are only partially soy with many other additives and/or use GMO soy. The candles I use are non-GMO soy, which is clean burning without harmful fumes or soot, is grown in the U.S. and is both sustainable and renewable. They’re also completely free of dyes. The soy in these candles is not tested on animals and is free of herbicides and pesticides.It’s also kosher, 100 percent natural and biodegradable. The fragrances are body-safe, phthalate- and paraben-free and contain no California prop 65 ingredients. You can search online for healthy candles, but if you like, you can use the ones I found at This is not an affiliate link and I earn no commissions on these candles; I just thought you might benefit from the ones I now use in my home.

How to Make Digital Screens Healthier

When it comes to computer screens, it is important to reduce the correlated color temperature down to 2,700 Kelvin (K) — even during the day, not just at night. It’s even better to set it below 2000K or even 1000K. Many use f.lux to do this, but I have a great surprise for you as I have found a FAR better alternative that was created by Daniel Georgiev, a 22yearold Bulgarian programmer that Ben Greenfield introduced to me.He was using F.lux but became frustrated with the controls. He attempted to contact the F.lux programmers but they never got back to him, so he created a massively superior alternative called Iris. It is free, but you’ll want to pay the $2 and reward him with the donation. You can purchase the $2 Iris mini software here.Iris is better because it has three levels of blue blocking below f.lux: dim incandescent, candle and ember. I have been using ember after sunset and measured the spectrum and it blocked nearly all light below 550 nm, which is spectacular, as you can see in the image below when I measured it on my monitor in the ember setting. When I measured the f.lux at its lowest setting of incandescent it showed loads of blue light coming through, as you can clearly see in the second image below.So, if you are serious about protecting your vision you will abandon f.lux software and switch to Iris. I have been using it for about three months now, and even though I have very good vision at the age of 62 and don’t require reading glasses, my visual acuity seems to have dramatically increased. I believe this is because I am not exposing my retina to the damaging effects of blue light after sunset.Iris Software:

iris software

F.lux Software:

flux software

Diet Also Plays a Role in Nearsightedness and AMD

When it comes to protecting your vision, your diet also plays an important role, as your eyes need certain nutrients in order to function properly. Dark leafy greens are particularly important, as they’re rich in carotenoids like zeaxanthin and lutein. Zeaxanthin is an antioxidant carotenoid found in your retina, but it cannot be made by your body, so you must get it from your diet.Other important nutrients include animal-based omega-3 fats, vitamins A, C and E, and zinc.23 AMD, as well as cataracts, are largely driven by free radical damage, and may in many cases be largely preventable through antioxidant-rich foods such as:

Astaxanthin Animal-based omega-3 fat (found in wild-caught Alaskan salmon)
Anthocyanins (found in blueberries, bilberries and black currants) Vitamin D
Lutein and zeaxanthin Bioflavonoids (found in tea, cherries and citrus fruits)

Your diet can also influence your risk for nearsightedness. According to Loren Cordain, Ph.D., an evolutionary biologist at the Colorado State University in Fort Collins, elevated insulin levels affect the development of your eyeball, making it abnormally long, thereby causing near-sightedness.24Cordain found that when hunter-gatherer societies change their lifestyles and introduce grains and carbohydrates, they rapidly develop (within a single generation) myopia rates that equal or exceed those in western societies.The reason for this is because high insulin levels from excess carbohydrates can increase insulin resistance and 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.This theory is also consistent with observations that you’re more likely to develop myopia if you are overweight or have adult-onset diabetes, both of which involve elevated insulin levels. Following my nutrition plan will help normalize your insulin level by reducing, or eliminating, excess sugar and processed grains from your diet. To learn more about which foods can help safeguard your vision, please see my previous articles, “Eat Right to Protect Your Eyesight,” and “The Best Foods for Healthy Eyes.”

How the Bates Method May Improve Your Nearsightedness

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If you’re already nearsighted, all is not lost. According to Greg Marsh, a certified natural vision coach, clear vision is achievable even if you’re already wearing strong corrective lenses. The method Greg teaches was initially conceived by Dr. William H. Bates, over 100 years ago.A board-certified ophthalmologist at the top of his field, Bates taught his method to many, and it was so effective that it ended up being banned in New York after the optometrists lobbied the local politicians. So how does the Bates Method work? Marsh explains:

“Basically, there are six muscles on the outside of your eye, and they’re moving it around … Ideally, these muscles are easily following visual interests … The problem is — it could be for emotional reasons, physical stress or whatever — you start to strain. Once you start to strain, your vision starts to go.”

The action of straining essentially squeezes your eyeballs, contorting them. This makes your vision blurry, as it alters where the field of vision “lands” on your retina. Now you have three basic choices:

  1. Find out what’s stressing you, making you strain. Let it go, relax and get your vision back. Bates developed ingenious tools for doing just that
  2. Get laser in-situ keratomileusis (LASIK), which permanently alters your focal length
  3. Get corrective lenses. The problem with corrective lenses is that now you’re creating permanent strain

The Bates Method isn’t really an exercise; it’s more of a mental approach. It’s also worth noting that the Bates Method is clearly NOT a medical approach. You still need to see your regular eye doctor for checkups. One of the most famous Bates Method techniques is palming. Look around and notice the level of clarity of your vision at present.Then, simply place the center of your palms over your eyes. Relax your shoulders. You may want to lean forward onto a table or a stack of pillows, to facilitate relaxation. Relax like this for at least two minutes. Then remove your hands, open your eyes and notice whether anything looks clearer. Usually, it will.The Bates Method is really quite simple, yet it requires patience and a certain amount of finesse. Remember, the goal is not to “train” or exercise your eyes to make them stronger. The goal is to relax them. Greg’s program provides thorough instructions that can help you get there. Also, remember that your mindset is important.Bates was also a proponent of sunning the eyes to help correct vision problems,25 and recent research suggests he was on the right track 100 years ago. It just goes to show that, as humans, we cannot extract ourselves too far from the natural world.Indeed, we depend on the natural order of things to thrive, and that includes being exposed to sunlight during the daytime, and avoiding light exposure once the sun has set. Altering this natural order has consequences for our health, including but certainly not limited to our vision.

  • Nearsightedness is incredibly common, affecting an estimated 40 percent of Americans and up to 90 percent of young adults in Asian countries
  • One longstanding theory was that excessive reading at close distance (particularly in poor lighting) could lead to nearsightedness. Research refutes this theory, noting a clear lack of association between the two
  • Mounting research now shows the risk of nearsightedness is closely linked to time spent outdoors, both for children and adults. To protect your vision, you need regular exposure to bright sunlight

By Dr. Mercola

– Sources and References

Big S

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