“Your vision worsens as you age.”
That’s one of those things you’re taught to expect as you grow older, like declining testosterone or an aching back. But, it’s fun to break the rules. Aging doesn’t mean resigning yourself to a malfunctioning body. You can keep your testosterone high, stay lean and muscular, and you can hack your vision so it not only stays the same, but improves. Here’s a guide to strengthening your eyes so you see better in the dark, at a distance, up close, and everywhere in between.
Support your vision with supplements
The quality of your vision is heavily impacted by nutrition. These supplements can help prevent eye degeneration and enhance your night vision.
- Lutein, zeaxanthin, and astaxanthin combat eye degeneration as you age [1,2]. They also sharpen contrast by reducing glare and blur in your vision and absorb damaging blue light, preventing oxidative damage that destroys cells in your eyes [1,3]. That last bit is especially important, considering how much you’re bombarded with unnatural blue light these days (fluorescent/LED lighting, computer, and phone screens, etc.).
- Beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A. It enhances night vision in people who are vitamin A-deficient . And considering 51% of Americans don’t meet the recommended daily intake for vitamin A  (which is already far too low), it’s probably worth getting a little extra beta-carotene.
- Bilberry extract contains highly concentrated anthocyanosides that improve night vision and help you see better in low-contrast environments .
You can buy each of these supplements separately or you can get all five compounds in one place with Bulletproof Eye Armor.
Gabor patches to train away your reading glasses
As you age, the lenses in your eyes become less flexible, and you struggle to focus on things that are close to you. It starts in your 30s and happens to practically everyone by age 50 .
It’s tough to change the physical shape of your eye, but you can train your brain to get better at interpreting what you see. Looking at Gabor patches – images that stress your brain’s visual perception area – can reverse farsightedness and keep you from turning to reading glasses [8,9].
Gabor patches are also accessible. You can train your eyes using an app, like GlassesOff, which has a couple clinical studies under its belt [9,10].
Try Irlen Glasses to fight mental fatigue
One in two people has Irlen Syndrome, a sensitivity to certain spectra of light. If you have ever seen me wearing weird orange glasses indoors, this is why. They are Irlen glasses, designed to block all the light that affects me adversely while letting in all the other spectra. When you have Irlen syndrome and you let in the wrong kind of light, it acts as a stressor on your brain.
This saps performance in a major way, as your brain has to compensate for this depleted energy. I have had Helen Irlen (the psychologist who first defined the syndrome) on Bulletproof Radio twice. Listen to those interviews if you haven’t yet (they’re here and here). and check out this article as well. There is a 50% chance you have Irlen syndrome, and if you do, getting a pair of Irlen glasses will change your life.
Palming to destress your eyes
I learned this technique from Meir Schneider’s work. Meir is a truly inspirational figure: he was born blind and had a series of operations as a child that left him with eyes that were mostly scar tissue. He was told his blindness was incurable. Nevertheless, as a young adult, Meir began experimenting with eye training exercises and was able to build up to 55% regular vision. He now is licensed to drive a car and reads books without needing glasses. Meir is a real biohacker. One of Meir’s techniques that I’ve used is palming. For more of his techniques, read his book “Yoga for Your Eyes.”
To perform palming, rub your hands together vigorously until they become warm. Then close your eyes and hold your warmed hands over them, not so that you’re touching your eyes, but so that you block all light from getting in. If you are ever caught under fluorescent lighting and need some relief, palming is shockingly effective. The absolute darkness allows your eyes to relax, and I also suspect that the heat in your hands has some positive effects on the mitochondria in your eyes.
Palming was also a principal technique of William Bates. Bates developed a whole system of eye training known as the “Bates method”. Although Bates remains a controversial figure for his extreme views (claiming glasses are always harmful, and recommending staring at the sun, with predictably horrible results), palming really does seem to help with vision.
The Brock String for shortsightedness
The Brock string is a technique in visual therapy that I used to correct my own vision. I used to have a vergence disorder- that means that my eyes didn’t work together properly to focus on a single object. I probably acquired this because I learned to read before learning to walk. My brain decided early on that it was easier to turn off visual inputs from my left eye than to see in stereo. What’s funny is I didn’t know this was happening until I experimented with the Brock String exercise and discovered that the beads would sometimes disappear. When my eye got fatigued it would stop working altogether. I performed one hour of visual training once a week on Saturday mornings for 3 months, and my vision went from 20/80 to 20/60 and eventually back to 20/20. Even more impressive: my astigmatism went away!
How to do the Brock String exercise:
You will need:
- One length of string as long as your room
- Three different colored beads
How you do it:
- String the beads and place them at distinct lengths (start with 4 inches away, 10 inches away, and one bead a the other end of the room).
- Tie the string to a doorknob, and sit at the other end of the room, holding the string against the bridge of your nose, with enough tension that the string is straight.
- Now switch your focus between the three beads, pausing for a short while on each bead, and maintaining awareness of the sensations in your eyes. The beads may disappear, as occurred in my case, or you may experience diplopia (double-vision, or “drunk goggles” effect). Your eyes will get tired, but over a long time of consistent training, you will find it gets easier and easier to see clearly with both eyes at the same time.
Warning: this is not easy work! It is very tiring on your brain. I remember being extremely exhausted after each session. That being said, I didn’t have the benefits of Bulletproof Coffee at the time. I now know from doing 40 Years of Zen that having ketones present in your system makes a huge difference when training your brain. In fact, anything that boosts mitochondrial function is a good idea before these activities. Cells in your eyes have some of the highest concentrations of mitochondria in your whole body.
Shocking your eyes for macular degeneration
A common denominator to these hacks is that your eyes are as much an extension of your brain as they are a distinct organ. You do much more than merely “photograph” the world. Processing and interpretation happening behind the eye is important as well.
That being said, the eyes, like any biological system, can break down at a hardware level, as is the case with macular degeneration. Macular degeneration happens when the macula, a small region of the eye specialized for detecting sharp images, starts to break down. Either small deposits can scar or the macula, as is the case in “dry” macular degeneration, or special blood vessels behind the eye called the choroid can overproduce and leak into your macula, as is the case with “wet” macular degeneration. This results in blurred central vision, and, at its worst, can lead to blindness.
The good news is there is a way to reverse it. Dr. Jerry Tennant has done some amazing work in this area; check out his book “Healing is Voltage”. Tennant treats macular degeneration by using voltage to stimulate the production of new cells, and he sees vision improvements in over 90% of macular degeneration patients. His stuff sounds a little out there, but I know it works, because my father had macular degeneration, and, by using a similar device, reversed it.
Vision doesn’t have to deteriorate as you age. Your eyes and brain are hackable, and good food and habits can keep you seeing well without glasses, or even help you get rid of glasses you already have. For more vision hacks, check out the following:
- Helen Irlen: Hacking Your Brain with Irlen Lenses – Bulletproof Radio
- Even Brand: Repairing Your Vision – Bulletproof Radio
- Q&A with Dave: Hacking Eyesight
Thanks for reading. Stay Bulletproof and have a great week!
Click to read the complete list of references.