Today on the Gut Health Reset Podcast, we are discussing your eyes, how to keep them healthy, and their unexpected connection to your gut health with special guest Jake Steiner! With the rise of modern technology, harsh, artificial interior lighting, and bright screens, your eyes are more susceptible to damage and strain than ever before. These issues can lead to conditions like myopia, but are entirely preventable with the right practices and healthy habits.
In today’s episode, we will answer these questions:
– The connection between gut health and eyesight!
– How can intermittent fasting affect your eyes?
– What sorts of light damages your eyes?
– Why could glasses actually be bad for your eyes?
– And more!
Still want to learn more? Schedule with Dr. Barter today!
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About Jake Steiner:
20 years ago, Jake Steiner began a journey to reverse his -5.00 diopter myopia. It took a great deal of experimenting and trial and error to apply theoretical concepts found in clinical journals and peer-reviewed studies, but through that work, he managed to regain his natural 20/20 vision without any surgery. Now he’s on a mission to end myopia forever.
Subscribe for more gut health content and share this podcast with a friend! Take a screenshot of this episode and tag Dr. Ann-Marie Barter:
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter is a Functional Medicine and Chiropractic Doctor at Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic. She is the clinic founder of Alternative Family Medicine & Chiropractic that has two offices: one in Longmont and one in Denver. They treat an array of health conditions overlooked or under-treated by conventional medicine, called the “grey zone”. https://altfammed.com/
Jake Steiner: It’s again, insulin spikes are a real issue. Like if you print an item, which I recommend everybody do and you hang it up somewhere and then if you were to not that your listeners do, but if you’re going to eat a pizza and drink a Coke, you’re very likely not going to be able to read the same lines on the eye chart that you did before you had that.
Intro: Are you struggling with bloating, gas, constipation and fatigue that don’t know what’s causing these problems? The Gut Health Reset Podcast with Dr. Ann-Marie Barter dives deep into the root causes behind these issues that start in the gut. This podcast will give you the knowledge you need to heal your gut and reset your health.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Thank you, Jake, so much for being here today. It’s awesome to have you.
Jake Steiner: Thanks for having me. Ann-Marie, I appreciate it.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Yeah, absolutely. So, I want to dive in today. You know, you’re very passionate about eyesight and I want to dove in today on how gut health and eyesight are actually related.
Jake Steiner: Yes. So, first of all, I have to say I’m a little envious of your topic of gut health because there’s so many things that you can address. And my unfortunate little topic of the tiny little eyeballs. Most of the issues that people experience with eyesight primarily are a muscle and screen and treatment problem. Like glasses are a terrible idea for your eyesight. But there is definitely a nutritional aspect. If your insulin spikes tend to have a notable negative impact on eyesight that goes all the way to diabetes, where if you’re diabetic, you’re also myopic. So myopic meaning is short sighted and you short sighted. And you need to wear glasses to correct your distance vision.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Okay. So do you know of any further direct correlation between gut health and eyesight?
Jake Steiner: It’s again, insulin. Insulin spikes are a real issue. Like if you print an eye chart, which I recommend everybody do and you hang it up somewhere, and then if you were to not that your listeners do, but if you’re going to eat a pizza and drink a Coke, you’re very likely not going to be able to read the same lines on the eye chart that you did before you had that. So not directly got because there’s a mechanism directly in the eye. There’s two mechanisms directly in the eye that affect your eyesight short term and long term. And there’s specific mechanisms that will function even if you’ve got health isn’t relatively perfect, you will notice of the difference. People that are doing fasting, people that are addressing diet habits of cutting out sugar, generally improving. What is also gut health are noting that the eyesight tends to improve but not enough to just be rid of glasses.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So you talk about some of the dietary changes that can help with eyesight, which is really helpful. What changes have you seen with intermittent fasting and eyesight? Have there been huge changes associated with that or just minor? What have you seen with that?
Jake Steiner: It’s in the range of wear, like half diopter to a diopter for people that wear glasses. The difference between you being able to see the screen without glasses and not being able to see to screen a computer screen distance without glasses, amount of different. So it’s notable, especially if the lighting conditions are not ideal, if you’re if in nice shaded ambient full spectrum natural lighting, you’re still going to see a all. But once you’re in the artificial lighting that we’re in now, it’s enough to where the impact will be, enough to where you may end up in glasses, where you wouldn’t need them otherwise.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So talk to me about the lighting that were under and how that’s going to affect eyesight. What specifically about the lighting does that?
Jake Steiner: It’s a for one. It’s a it’s a brightness issue, very simply. But also, there’s a spectrum issue so that the a lot of artificial light is really narrow spectrum. Even in similar brightness condition, you see noticeably less well. And the problem with that is if you’re working in an office environment or schools even that use these terrible fluorescent lights, your kids end up in a place where they can’t see as well as they normally would, and they’re straining their eyes. You end up squinting if you’re working in a shopping mall or in a in an office with that kind of fluorescent lighting. They strain your eyes enough that you end up at the optometrist and then they sell your glasses. And the underlying issue wasn’t that you have some weird genetic defect in that kind of scenario. It was that the lighting persistently is so subpar quality, subpar quality that the eyestrain causes you to eventually wear glasses.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And you touched on nutrient deficiencies for a minute. How much do the nutrient deficiencies and affects the gut and what are some of those nutrient deficiencies, I’m sorry, that affect eyesight?
Jake Steiner: Definitely so huge ranging topic. Right. And my my specialty eyesight. I’ve been doing this for going on 20 years. I used to have really thick minus five delta glasses, now 2020 eyesight and tens of thousands of people that have done this. So I end up in topics that are not my main specialty, and I like to refer to other people that are much more diet focused. Things like vitamin A, for example, that are just really kind of low hanging fruit. If you have those kind of deficiencies, I always recommend get a get a blood panel if you can, like mineral and vitamin deficiencies, figure out if there’s something going on that’s underlying, right? Like if you have blood sugar issues also that you want to address, you want to address lighting. The real problem, the core problem is the muscle in your eye. It’s called the ciliary muscle. That is overly tense when you spend a lot of time in front of screens, especially the closer up the screens are, the more that muscles tense and eventually that muscle spasms. And then you have what’s called pseudo myopia. So it’s not real nearsightedness, but it’s diagnosed as nearsightedness. And then they sell your glasses, which turns into a lifetime subscription at a massive profit to the optometrist.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: I’ve heard you mention glasses multiple times that you don’t like them. And I’ve, we’ve had some ophthalmologists on and they have kind of had the same views. So what, what is it about glasses? That is a problem. And I mean, obviously you’re not fixing the underlying problem, but why don’t you go into that a little bit?
Jake Steiner: Sure. So it’s a $100 billion industry. People don’t realize it is immensely profitable. It’s $100 billion a year. A pair of lenses in your glasses wholesale cost 2 to $3 to the optometrist. You can open a wholesale account yourself and start buying lenses at 2 to $3, including all the coatings. So whatever you’re paying for glasses currently is the average profit margin is 5,000%. So whenever you go to a retail optometrist, somebody works in a in a retail environment, in a shopping mall, sells you things that they call prescriptions, referring to you as a patient, realize that there is a massive profit motive involved there. Right. Like when you sell these things for hundreds of dollars in the cost to box, there’s not much incentive to tell you muscle spasm. Right. So these things are symptom treatment and the super short version. Just for listeners to start to get curious, I always recommend google scholar scholar duco dot com for clinical studies glasses cause the eyeball to a long game, something called hyper object of focus where the light focuses behind the retina to a small degree once you start wearing glasses. So when your eyesight initially wasn’t perfect and you went to the optometrist and then you got glasses and now you had this eight k amazing vision a year or so into it, your eyesight has degraded somewhat to where you want to go back to the optometrist and now you need stronger glasses. And it’s not that your eyesight got worse. Incidentally, literally the treatment causes more of the symptom. So jokingly, we refer to them as subscriptions, not prescriptions. Because once you put glasses on, you’re almost certainly going to need stronger ones. And it becomes a cycle of where now you become dependent on the symptom treatment.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Yeah, that makes sense. So what do we do about this problem?
Jake Steiner: The first thing is I deal a lot with parents now, with kids that used to not be the case. Ten, 15 years ago, almost at all.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: It was in front of screens all day.
Jake Steiner: All day. The screen is, as I always say, not a babysitter iPad. Absolutely not. TV distance is fine. Once you’re at about 20 feet or six meters, that muscle, the focusing most on the eye, is relaxed. So the closer you can get to that distance, the less strain you’re creating, the less of this muscle spasm happens, the more likely you are to get away with it. If you’re currently having eyesight, that’s that’s not as great as it should be. An eye chart taking breaks when you can’t read the same line on the eye chart anymore, hang it up somewhere where it’s easily visible in your workspace. Check before you start working or before you start having screen time and then check periodically while you’re doing it. Eventually you’re going to notice more blurred, and that was before. That’s when that muscle starts to lock up. You need a break long enough to where you can read the same lines on the eye chart again. Avoid the optometrist. I go to an ophthalmologist. Ophthalmologists are medical doctors. They’re not in shopping malls that generally don’t sell glasses for eye health checkups. But whenever you find yourself squinting or your distance vision is compromised where it wasn’t before, it’s generally a muscle spasm problem. Sometimes nutritional, right? Like sometimes sleep, sometimes lighting. But most prominently it’s a muscle spasm problem. So avoid the optometrist and distance vision is the fix I like. It’s not profitable. This is why this is not a popular topic. Because there’s no money in saying get away from the screen for half an hour, spend time looking at a distance, make sure that your distance vision has recovered before you spend more time before our screens.
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Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So the problem and I learned this when I was in school, it’s over convergence. So you’re basically over converged and you really need to look out on the horizon instead of looking up close to where your eyes go down to the screen and almost cross where it’s looking. But they’re just they’re just more converged here versus looking out. Is that what you’re explaining?
Jake Steiner: That’s part of it. So those are the extra ocular muscles. The closer you look at something, the more your eyes turn inwards. Those muscles relax when you’re looking at a distance. Then there’s also muscle inside the eye. So there’s a lens in the front, like it’s a ball. So that lens in the front and the retina in the back with a light focuses. And that lens is shaped by something called the ciliary muscle. And the closer you look at something that tighter that muscle gets to to shape the lens, to focus to light. Muscles not designed to be in a super tense mode for hours and hours and hours every day. So once you do that, that muscle gets stuck. Muscle spasm. And if you Google scholar pseudo myopia or near induced transient myopia, you’re going to get tens of thousands of studies that point to the same thing for the last 50 years. So it’s really odd when you go to the retail optometrist to tell you it’s mysterious, it’s genetic, it’s unfixable, and then you get the symptom treatment from them.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: So what’s your advice for parents where their kids actually have to sit in front of these devices? And everything has gone virtual nowadays. And so people are in meetings for hours and obviously you can take a break. But what’s kind of the advice for somebody that’s sitting there for a long hours is probably going to say, oh, I can’t take a break or I don’t have time to take a break with my workload or it’s not allowed in sport.
Jake Steiner: Yeah, distance is the number one thing. Distance makes a massive difference. I always I recommend against phones. The screen is tiny, so the point of immersion is much closer, right? Like the smaller screen, the closest to hold it at your face for to feel immersive. The bigger the screen, the further you can get away. So the bigger you can have the screen at a larger distance makes a huge difference. Even if you just think, you know, it’s five inches, ten inches. Every inch relaxes that muscle. So distance is supercritical. And then the other part that this is kind of weird because this used to not be a topic years ago, but because we were so instantly gratified by content on screens. People forget that with especially for kids, boredom and play is super important, right? Kids recover from from poor eyesight very, very quickly and they get worse eyesight very, very quickly. The way they recover easily is because they want to play. And so if you if you limit the screen for for pacifying them from boredom, they’re going to go play and they’re going to find other things to do that move that ciliary muscle. As long as there’s varying distances, the muscle doesn’t tend to get stuck. So super important. And if you put them in glasses, your eyesight will get worse very quickly with kids very dramatically. Quickly.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Yeah. And what’s the is it what’s the advice for, say, like other problems, like astigmatism. Same advice.
Jake Steiner: Super rare astigmatism is really uncommon in real life. Right. Like there’s there’s something that’s that I call lens induced astigmatism, just like lens induced myopia. If you look at your correction history, what they call prescriptions, if you started out without any astigmatism correction. So there was no cylinder number in there and later on you started getting it. Then the lenses created that astigmatism because you’re visual cortex, your eyes are not perfect. So the visual cortex tunes out imperfections and works out a clear image for you. Once you start introducing cylinder corrected lenses, the visual cortex compensates for that. And then you end up in a situation where you have astigmatism that you can reverse slowly over time, just by reducing the cylinder in your glasses.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: And do exercises help. I know there’s like holistic ophthalmologists, for example. I didn’t know was if that was a helpful tip.
Jake Steiner: It technically is, yes. But practically speaking, it’s really difficult to reverse multiple if you want to get out of classes or if you want to significantly impact your lens. Dependance exercises are while they technically work. The problem is the habit. If you do an exercise and then you go back to watching Netflix on your phone, you have that muscle spasms again. So my recommendation is habit changes, right? Like no Netflix on the phone. Got an iPad, right? Like from an iPad, go to a projector. You increase that distance. It ends up the same as being an exercise. Watch a phone film with the subtitles on it. Where you’re challenging your eyesight a little bit at the TV distance equates to how an exercise would work. And there’s a lot of stuff called like Bates Method that was an optometrist from 100 years ago that introduced this idea. So eye exercises are really popular, but for a real fix, a long term, you don’t want to be wearing glasses. Small but long term lifestyle changes are much more helpful.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: But is there anything that we left out that’s really important to cover?
Jake Steiner: Com getting more common is presbyopia. So that’s when you stop to be able to read things up. Close starts to happen in your forties when people start having boring reading glasses. Really interesting that you can reduce your dependance on those significantly. And I make that recommendation often. Just like you don’t want to put your kids in glasses because it’s going to affect their social interactions, it’s going to affect their development. Same thing happens on the opposite end, right? Like now in your forties, if you succumb to reading glasses instead of making small changes to how you do your close up work, you start feeling old because you feel like your eyesight is letting you down. Right? And that’s I mean, both of us are still way too young for that. I’m not. But if right. Like I’m approaching 50. So it’s a time where if I go to the optometrist, they’re going to try to sell me reading glasses. As soon as you put those on that muscle doesn’t have to work anymore because the glasses do the compensating the lens hardens with age. And now I need those things. So resisting the urge, just in general, resisting the urge to to allow people to put lenses in front of your eyes is often a great idea.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: The other kind of trend that’s been recent has been that the light blocking glasses from the computer screen. What’s your feeling on that?
Jake Steiner: I love those screens and to I want to sell those. It’s Coke zero. It’s it’s the salad at McDonald’s. It’s it’s the, you know, the low carb yogurt, whatever it is, it’s you take a product and you identify why people aren’t specifically buying it or what they find an issue with it. And then you sprinkle in a magical ingredient, you know, the Wonder Bread with fortified vitamins. It’s that type of thing where the problem is nighttime, too much long ongoing screen use, right. Or in general, too much screen use, the blue light portion. It’s an issue. It’s it’s correctly identified by blue blocking glasses, technically reduce some effects that you’ll have from extensive screen use. But the problem is a screen use like you shouldn’t switch from Coke to Coke zero, you should switch to water. Right. Like and that’s a big stretch. But if I’m saying, okay, switch to reading a book, you know, even if it’s even if it’s an e-book on one of those, those e-ink screens or listen to a podcast at night or get up a bit earlier, go to sleep a little bit earlier. Reducing the screen exposure, especially after sunset, is a much better idea than buying blue blocking glasses and imagining that they address the problem entirely.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Yeah. Yeah. Where can people find you if they want to get in touch with you?
Jake Steiner: EndMyopia.org. I’ve just been told the other day that it’s a terrible website, which is very possibly true since it’s been around for the last ten years. And I’m not a web designer, just 1200 plus articles on there. We have a huge community. We’ve got a 25,000 member Facebook group. We’ve got a fairly large ish YouTube channel. We’ve got a big forum. There’s a big global community of people that figured out that life is better without glasses and EndMyopia.org Links to all those resources and tasks.
Dr. Ann-Marie Barter: Well, thank you so much for coming on today.
Jake Steiner: Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.
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