Recently, eye health expert, Meir Schneider, PhD joined Neurohacker Director of Product Development, Gregory Kelly, ND to share his extraordinary, holistic journey of healing his eyesight naturally. The fact that Schneider is able to see is nothing short of impressive: He was born cross-eyed with glaucoma, astigmatism, nystagmus, and cataracts. At the age of 6 he was pronounced legally blind.
Schneider credits his restored vision to his practice of techniques, some based on the Bates Method of vision improvement and others he developed to enhance his vision and help other people with theirs. In this unique interview he discusses how our vision differs from our ancestors, the role the brain plays in our visual system, and offers easy-to-implement exercises to help us neurohack our vision. Let’s dive in.
Can you explain how our vision differs from that of our ancestors?
Our eyes evolutionarily were the eyes of hunters and gatherers. For 2 million years, the human race used to look at a distance, or at the horizon. The “newspaper” of our ancestors was to scan the horizon, not the Washington Post. Our ancient fathers and mothers, our predecessors, had to pay attention. You wouldn’t last more than a week without noticing the periphery. In fact, you would be eaten or you would starve to death if you don’t notice what was around you.
Our ancient fathers and mothers, our predecessors, had to pay attention to it; in the jungle, you wouldn’t last more than a week without noticing the periphery.
Today, we suppress parts of the eye that help us to see well naturally. It is a subconscious suppression. As we focus on objects in front of us, we simply don’t pay attention to what’s around us—a habit that is detrimental to our eye health. For example, when we stare at screens, we are so intensely focused on what’s in front of us that there's no ceiling, there's no floor, there appears to be nothing around us. Overtime, the result can be a narrowing of our periphery and a weakened eye lens.
Nielsen estimates that we spend 13.5 hours a day staring at devices. What are the implications of excessive screen time to our vision health?
Let me share an account that illustrates digital eye strain. In Israel, there’s a study of a woman who brought her 15-year-old daughter to the ophthalmologist for glasses. The ophthalmologist said to her, "How much is your daughter playing outdoors?" And she said, "Oh, she doesn't play outdoors. She looks at a computer all day." He said, "Tell her to play outdoors."
Two months later, she came back with her daughter and the ophthalmologist found that the girl no longer needed glasses. That is so important. We cannot help the fact that modern time demands from us more screen time. At the same time, we can demand some rest.
We cannot help the fact that modern time demands from us more screen time. At the same time, we can demand some rest.
For example, we all understand the value of rest from sitting. Modern medicine has made the claim, “Sitting is the new smoking.” We have muscles that are designed for sitting but when we sit too long those muscles tire. They start to borrow from other muscles, like the abdominal muscles for the oblique, etc. and also the quadratus lumborum. We were not designed to be sedentary. We're doing it because we can, but it doesn't mean it's good for us.
It’s the same with excessive screen time. Many people in our culture are unaware of the eye strain from looking at computers, televisions, and books so much of the time. They pay attention to what’s in front of them, with little thought of the impacts on the health of their eyes. Left unchecked, digital eye strain can cause negative impacts on our vision health.
Can you share with us vision exercises for people who are stuck staring at screens every day?
Yes, cut out a small piece of opaque paper, about one and a half inches by two inches, and tape the paper horizontally on the bridge of your nose, so that it is centered between your eyes.
Walk around in a familiar environment with this paper on your nose for a minute or two. Now sit down and wave your hands quickly to the side of your head like you did before. Then, rock forward toward your thighs and back up again, bending at the hips, while you wave your hands to the side quickly. Stand up and sit down several times, moving your whole body up and down, as you wave your hands quickly to the side. As you do this, it reveals to your brain the existence of a moving periphery with which it normally does not connect unless you regularly practice vision exercises like this.
Waving our hands to our sides in this eye exercise wakes up the peripheral cells because the rods of the retina respond to movement rather than to still images; conversely, the cones respond better to a still picture. These cones are mainly in the central part of the retina—the area called the macula—and are used to look at details. An overwhelming number of the retina’s cells are the rods, which respond mostly to the impression of movement.
When we exercise these rods to improve eyesight, we take away a lot of stress from the overworked cones, and we make it easier for them to function more correctly and for overall eye and vision health to improve. Instead of the brain forcing the eye to freeze and strenuously see a picture, the brain will command the eye to look gently and easily in order to see the entire landscape better.
Adapting to strong sunlight, in moderation, is also crucial to our vision health. As we face the sun, our pupils constrict. As we move away, our pupils expand. This sunning exercise is wonderful, and played a vital role in my ability to see again.
Tell us more about how to use the sunning technique to improve our eyesight.
To begin sunning, all you need to do is close your eyes and face the sun. Now move your head from side to side, rotating it from shoulder to shoulder. As you face the sun, the iris sphincter muscles constrict the pupils. As you move your head away toward one shoulder, the radial dilator muscles dilate the pupils, even though your eyes are closed. Engaging both of these muscles on a regular basis helps improve eyesight and vision.
The movements should not be fast, but they should not be slow either. Just relax, breathe deeply and slowly, and visualize that the sun, with its energy and light, is penetrating your face and nurturing your eyes as well as your mind. Your eyelids should be closed softly; don’t squeeze your eyelids shut. You want the eyelids to close as gently as if you were about to go to sleep for maximum vision enhancement. The less you squeeze your eyelids, the more relaxed your eyes will become. Remember, relaxation is one of the principles of how to improve eyesight naturally.
To learn more check out this video.
Quite frequently there's a visualization element to the eyesight exercises you’re sharing so that we're engaging our brain at the same time - is that correct?
Absolutely. And also what happens in the body is very holistic. I want to tell you about one of my favorite eye exercises for simultaneously stimulating both brain and vision, palming.
Palming soothes the optic nerve, which is often irritated. You may see all kinds of lights when performing the eye exercise, which is an indication of irritation in the optic nerve. In fact, you may not see total darkness until you have completed several palming sessions. If you can palm for six minutes you clean all the material that was accumulated in your thalamus because otherwise what happens is much of your vision comes to waste. It's hard to believe that, but we get a billion light rays per minute to our retina, and we can only process a part of them.
Begin by sitting in a darkened room with your elbows leaning on a table. Relax your back and shoulders, rub your hands together vigorously to warm them, then place your palms over your eyes. Don’t press the eye sockets and don’t lean on the cheekbones. Visualize total blackness, the most relaxing color for the brain, and breathe deeply. Let the blackness permeate everything: your eyes, your whole body, the room you sit in, the city, the state, the continent, the planet, the stars, the universe.
Your book, Vision for Life, guides us through these experiential exercises for both brain and vision optimization. Can you tell us more about the book and the School for Self-Healing?
People can get rid of their glasses. People can prevent glaucoma. People can prevent cataracts. People can prevent so many vision problems if they better understand the natural powers they have. Both through my book and at my school, the goal is to inform people of the power of kinesthetic awareness, and to use that power, combined with the exercises we mentioned to heal their vision naturally.
For more information on how the School for Self-Healing has helped hundreds of thousands of people seeking solutions to chronic health conditions, including many people with vision problems visit his website self-healing.org or explore his book: Vision for Life: Ten Steps to Natural Eyesight Improvement.