Another day, another Shortsighted Podcast episode.
I spoil yee, kittehz.
Today we’re talking to Rui, who had significant headaches because of her glasses, and an ever increasing diopter dependence to go with it. (btw, here’s a detailed post about headaches because of glasses)
And of course all of optometry and ophthalmology is telling her that this is what it is, nothing can be done, and she just needs to suck it up and deal.
Nor surprises there.
What is perhaps surprising (to some) that better answer exist, in form of understanding basic vision biology, a bit of science, and taking it easy on pumping up diopters in front of people’s eyes for no good reason.
But before this devolves into a rant, let’s watch the episode with Rui:
Or if you prefer to listen, here is the audio:
You can also read the full transcript of this conversation, below.
And you can find this and all other episodes in your favorite podcast app from our podcast page.
Or check out our Shortsighted Podcast playlist on the Tubes.
Of course this is all part of the ongoing evolution of endmyopia as a resource. We used to be all text based improvement reports, hundreds of which you can find here. There are also lots more in our Facebook group and all over the Web. I’m not working towards having more context and first person-ness via podcasts and video as media you may enjoy.
Either way, use these for inspiration to make your own 20/20 gains!
Full Episode Transcript
00:00 Speaker 1: Welcome back to the Shortsighted Podcast. Today, we have an episode with Rae, who went from -9.75 high dioptre myopia to all the way back to -5 and -6 dioptres in the span of a single year. She had major headaches. She had all kinds of issues and she was told by everyone in the profession that nothing could be done for her eyesight. But then she discovered otherwise. I hope you enjoy this episode. I certainly did. Here’s Rae.
00:29 Rae: My name is Rae. I started at a -9.75 in my left eye and a -9.800 dioptres in my right eye. That was my contacts prescription, and I had over a dioptre and a half of astigmatism prescribed to me in my glasses. That was about a year ago, and I was having really bad headaches. I was working on a trading floor staring at a bunch of screens for a lot of hours a day and unable to take really any breaks and so I was getting to the point where I just couldn’t really function as a human being. And by just sheer luck, I stumbled upon Endmyopia. I think it was on a forum, a Quora like host or something. And I found Jake. And what was happening, or what he was saying on Endmyopia was actually really like, it made a lot of sense to me. And somewhere in the corner of my brain, I was like, “I think I agree with this and maybe knew this on some level.” And so, now it’s been a year later, I started basically… I’m now a -6 in my left and a -5 in my right. I’m wearing contacts right now. You can’t see.
02:02 S1: That is so much better when you say -9, just because having been around this for the last 20 years going on now, like -9, it’s just a… Nobody does well with a -9. Like what you said about headaches. There’s not a single person I’ve ever talked to who has that many dioptres and is fine like the…
02:24 Rae: No.
02:25 S1: Yeah. It’s…
02:25 Rae: It’s crazy.
02:26 S1: Yeah, maybe you tell them about it.
02:30 Rae: Yeah, no, it’s not great. I think I’ve met one other human being in my life, that had as high of a prescription as I did, and they were amazingly functional, actually. But I’ve actually kind of just told them about Endmyopia and they’re also super ecstatic. I can’t describe how much of a difference in my mental outlook on life Endmyopia has made, so thank you for that. Because my vision was so bad and my head hurt all the time and life sucked, and it was just… It just seemed like there was very little hope and I didn’t really know kind of what to do because all the optometrists and ophthalmologists that I was seeing were just telling me like, “This is kind of the hand you were dealt and you’ve gotta find a way to cope with it.” And so, I was to the point where I was so desperate where I was just seeking answers on the Internet, but also, I had, in Hong Kong, woken up one day and just was unable to see. I think it was, in a hindsight, it was probably a combination of maybe a panic attack and the migraine that I was having, and I was just like I woke up and it’s kind of like when you stand up too quickly and you get a head rush and you lose vision.
04:00 Rae: I had that permanently for a good, not permanently, but I had it for a good maybe half day and I had to go to the ER, and I was freaking out because as I’m sure a lot of Endmyopia users also have this low key fear. I had always been very afraid of losing my vision, because my vision was always so poor and so when I walked to the ER, they had told me that I was experiencing some sort of retinal detachment, and then they sent me to the ophthalmologist. And Hong Kong, by the way, has amazing ophthalmologists. I think that one of the doctors who invented LASIK or spearheaded, pioneered LASIK, practices there. I did see him, he did not recommend that I get LASIK, but he did recommend that I get laser surgery to patch up my retinas. But they was like… I mean, I could go down a whole tunnel about this. I’m not sure if you want me to, but it was pretty bleak, right? I was facing surgery with the possibility of permanently losing my vision with a non-zero chance of losing my vision, or just living with this sort of a thing.
05:20 Rae: And so I took some time off work and everything. I just came back to Seattle to decompress and figure things out. I got a lot of second opinions and I think I noticed when I came back, that if I wasn’t staring at a screen all the time, the headache kind of went away. And so I was trying to figure out if there was any science behind it, and so Endmyopia was really helpful just in pointing me to the right direction of studies and what works and what doesn’t and things like that. So that saved me probably a lot of time, in which if I didn’t have it, I probably would’ve just given up ’cause those studies can get pretty dry. But yeah, it’s very exciting now, ’cause I know I can get to a point where I don’t have to function with contacts or glasses and things like that. So thank you and I wanna help anyone else who might be suffering from the same thing to be able to help someone.
06:28 S1: I think it’s interesting and I like, I don’t know if I like it but when you said you were desperate enough to go to the Internet. It’s always weird because I’m in this strange spot. I don’t want my face on the Internet. I’m not into conspiracy theories. I’m not into health stuff. It’s really odd for me to be this guy. And then when you say something like, “I was desperate enough to go to the Internet,” I’m like nodding my head because I’ve been there with other things but that feeling of, “Oh, I guess I’m gonna go into the mud and see if there’s anything out there.” On one hand, it’s sad that we’re in this space, that a person like me who is just like you, I’m a trader, I’m not an ophthalmologist, not in the profession that I have to be the one talking about this on one hand. And on the other hand, what I’ve noticed a lot of times is that people like you, like if your profession is a very analytical one, this resonates better. And maybe it’s because how I relate to things, but a lot of the logical thinking, you look at it and you’re like, “Okay, the biology is pretty obvious, the science is pretty obvious. The self-experimenting is very straightforward.” So you can see, “Does this theoretically make sense?” And then practically, “Can I apply this?” Is a pretty short span of exploration.
07:55 S1: And it seems to really work well because I have a lot of trader friends who get into this really easily ’cause in their brain, it just makes sense. You go, “Okay, this is logical and I can try and see if it works.”
08:08 Rae: Right, and you see… I mean, thankfully, I think you see results pretty quickly, especially if you’re over-prescribed, and if you’re like me, you were definitely over-prescribed. And so, it becomes, I think, very quick to make progress and you’re like, “Wow! This works.” It’s just like anything else with the human body. You’re like, “Wow! I drink enough water, I don’t have headaches all the time or whatever it is.” And so, yeah, I’ve noticed that it, not that I tell a lot of people about it ’cause like you’ve mentioned in the past, it’s like that cookie thing where it’s like, “Well, not mainstream, it’s definitely not mainstream.” But I’ve noticed with my relatives in China, a lot of the habits that Endmyopia encourages, they naturally or culturally, I don’t know, already do, like taking breaks, looking far away, making sure their eyes don’t strain themselves even when you’re doing up-close work all the time. They’re very good about… It’s a very old, established rhythm where they’re like, “Okay, I know I’ve been looking at this for 15 or 20 minutes, time to go and get up and get some water or tea or whatever and come back.” And so, they… A lot of them are… Some near-sighted or dioptre-challenged, but it’s always very, very low. It’s rare in China for someone to have more than two or three dioptres. So it’s like they can do near, close-up work without glasses and use them to drive or what have you.
10:02 Rae: But it’s pretty interesting ’cause over here in the States, no one does that like gaming for hours, binging Netflix for hours. I’ve done all of it and I’ve grown up on all of that so I’m sure that’s not helpful, but yeah. So that’s a cultural bit, but I think what’s helped me the most is just watching other people. Obviously, watching you helps because just having a human being on the other end being like, “Yes, you’re not crazy. This works,” and like, “I’ve been there.” And like, “Yes, I know you’re having all sorts of weird doubts because I could just be a troll on the Internet,” sort of a thing. But having other human beings like that you do contacts with definitely helps. It just make me feel, “Oh, okay, this is a real thing and this works and I’m not crazy.” Unfortunately, we still have to think that. We still have to justify that. [chuckle]
11:08 S1: No, and that’s… I think it’s fine. I think it’s normal, and I always encourage that when people say they’re skeptical, that’s the same approach. And I make a lot of jokes. And partially, why I make jokes is because you wanna be skeptical. I call myself the eye guru, which is obviously not. There is no such thing where they say, “Don’t trust a dude on the Internet. See whether this is viable.” Because the Internet’s full of crazy stuff. I’ve had thyroid issues and other issues where I go to forums and I fall down rabbit holes where the recommendations people make, they endorse these just crazy ideas or that almost seem to make sense ’cause a lot of people endorse them, but if you’re not skeptical, you may do something that really could harm yourself. So I always encourage. Skepticism is good.
12:00 Rae: Yeah, healthy level, just critical thinking.
12:02 S1: Yeah, you just go, “I don’t know about this guy. He claims to have an invisible but very glorious beard.”
12:09 Rae: Right. [chuckle] Maybe once upon a time.
12:14 S1: Yeah, I wish. So you’re around -5, you’re wearing contact lenses right now, obviously, right?
12:20 Rae: I am, yes. So today wasn’t…
12:21 S1: So what do you do…
12:23 Rae: Oh, go ahead.
12:23 S1: Do you do glasses over contacts? Or how do you do your close-up?
12:27 Rae: So today, because I was allowed out of the house today to get groceries, I put on contacts and it was sunny in Seattle, so I just wanted to fully enjoy the day of being outside and in the sun. Normally, I do differential glasses for close-up work, and then I switch to… I play a lot of sports, so I wear contacts for pretty much all the other activities I do. But I’m wearing my contacts much less. I used to wear contacts because lenses were so thick. Before, I used to wear contacts all the time, which was probably not right for my corneas. I’m lucky that they’re still okay and stuff, but I try to wear them basically to the point where I only need them for activities. I’ve tried the glasses over contacts thing when I’m just reading something, I end up reading on the couch or whatever, something like that, it works pretty well, amazingly. So I have just reading glasses lying around my house like a 75-year-old man sort of a thing, but it’s fine.
13:41 S1: I know, I have reading glasses, too, and I’m almost…
13:44 Rae: Yeah, well, the stereotype is somewhat a bit older, but yeah, it works pretty well. I have an eye chart in my living room, which always gets comments from friends that come over, [chuckle] but it’s… Actually, I’m amazed that just… I don’t bring it to their attention, but they’ll see it on the wall. It’s hidden and they’re like, “Is that an eye chart?” And I’ll be like, “Yeah.” And they’ll be like, “Oh!” And then it’s amazing, they’ll be like, “Where do I stand? I wanna test my eyes.” And it becomes like a game but…
14:20 S1: How did you start with reductions? I’m curious because you do contact lenses, you do glasses, you started with differentials. How was that early process for you? Especially with high dioptres, I’m always curious in scenarios like this, so you do contact lenses for distance, right? And then you bought some glasses for close-up?
14:39 Rae: Yeah, so I think… And it was a year ago, but if I remember correctly, I had old glasses and so because I had gone to so many optometrists and they had prescribed me so many different prescriptions for my headaches and things like that, I think I started out with, I wanna say a -9.5. I could probably go back into my journal if it matters and I actually…
15:10 S1: Not exactly. I’m just more… Because I always get questions from people listening or watching how the approach works. So the exact dioptres are not so important; it’s more of just somebody who is starting out where you’re at is probably gonna be curious how you first started out with the reductions, just for a little bit of context.
15:29 Rae: Yeah. Just because I was so comfortable in contacts, and I think a lot of people in that dioptre range are, I knew that I needed to get contacts that were the lower prescription where I should start out as. So I had ordered them. I usually order mine from a UK website just ’cause it’s easier, but I ordered them. And then, while I was waiting for them to come, which took two or three weeks, I used my old glasses, which weren’t perfect for differentials, but they were better than not… I was still seeing a lot of progress even though they weren’t the exact dioptre, probably, that I should have been using. And then once the contacts came, and then I used, basically… My contacts prescription was normalized, and then I put a +1 set of reading glasses over that for all my near work. And then I had a standing desk set up and stuff and so, I was always the right distance away. And I saw progress really fast. I was at the point where I was buying contacts probably every three or four weeks, I think, which was really awesome. And then I’ve plateaued probably… I’ve been at -5 or -6 now for at least… It’s April, so six weeks, eight weeks, almost eight weeks, actually, yeah. So it slowed down significantly and part of that is me getting lazy, but also just because in Seattle, we don’t get much natural light until late June.
17:19 S1: There’s gonna be a point where there’s overcorrection, and then there’s ciliary spasm, and then there’s improvements you’re making. So especially with high dioptres, especially, initially, you get a lot of improvement, which is fantastic because it gets you into it. If this worked any differently, it would be much harder to become motivated and excited and trust the process, so it’s nice. But what you will notice, probably, at some point, is you get to a point where you make a reduction and you start noticing a little bit of ghosting, a little bit of double vision like astigmatism kind of. Not necessarily, but it happens quite commonly. And that’s the time you really… Being lazy is perfect because if you take it slow naturally and this also is what a lot of people do, you get sidetracked and then you just leave the corrections where they are for a few months. Because at some point, your eyes and your visual cortex just need time to adopt. So people that push the reductions get this transient astigmatism symptom that’s kind of a pain. So basically, what I’m saying, it’s fine to be lazy and it’s fine to take it slow at this point because you’ve reduced close to half, right? And it’s much better to just leave it alone for a little while there and let the biology properly adapt and then slowly make reductions from there.
18:49 Rae: Okay, yeah, it feels fairly… I don’t know if comfortable is the right word, but I don’t get headaches with this prescription anymore. I don’t know if other users also experience this, but I’ve always… And this is probably normal, but I’ve always had more trouble with headaches with glasses than contacts. And I don’t know if it’s… I’ve only gotten the highest index lens and things like that. I don’t know if it’s just the way… It’s gotten better when I was in a higher prescription. I think I could probably look at a screen for maybe 15 or 20 minutes, and then I could feel the tension start to build. Now, if I’m wearing my differentials and just working, it takes about a good 45 to an hour depending on the light and if I slept enough that day or whatever, but it still will inevitably come. It’s good now because if I feel it, I take a break and I know that taking a break will give my eyes a rest, so it’s like my body… I use it as my body’s natural reminder to tell me to stop, but it’s odd because I don’t get that with my contacts ever. I could, in theory, binge-watch all of the Friends seasons with my contacts and my head would not tell me I…
20:22 S1: Yeah, and I was hesitating whether I should explain that or not because basically what happens is your glasses only the optical center gives you the correction that you want. And any time your eyes wander around, you’re getting distortion and you’re not… The dioptres change because the way the lens is curved. So with the contact lens, you don’t have that vertex issue ’cause the lens is right on your eye. The glasses are in front of your eyes. You get a lot… The image is only right in the center. And then you get the hyperopic defocus on the periphery. It’s just you’re not getting the correct image, basically. And at some point, it just becomes too much strain that your visual cortex just goes, “This is no good. I don’t like it.” And that’s what causes the headache.
21:08 S1: If you wear contact lenses, it doesn’t happen nearly as much because you have a correct image, basically. But the problem is… Yeah, and there’s two problems with that. The one is the contact lens during close-up will dry up your eye because your blink rate is reduced during close-up. So that becomes a problem. And when you have dry eyes, you can’t do active focus properly. Your vision is not as good as it should be in the first place. That’s one problem. And then the other problem is because you don’t have that strain symptom, you’re much more likely, as you said, binge-watch and abuse the fact that you can do that. So it’s much better to wear differentials. After an hour, you don’t feel right and you have to take a break. So you’re definitely doing that the right way.
21:52 Rae: Oh, good, okay. Well, that’s good that I’m not going crazy ’cause I was like… I think you have an article that’s like you shouldn’t have got headaches from your glasses. And at one point I really dug in and I’m like, “I don’t know why I’m still having headaches.” And now it’s like, “It’s not such a bad thing.” You just have to take a break for 10 minutes and I’ll be fine. But yeah.
22:16 S1: You’re also more sensitive to it coming from a higher dioptre. A lot of people who would start at a -5 don’t have this reaction because they haven’t been exposed to this artificial focal plane to that extent in the past. So you’re more sensitive to it because you’ve been in a worse place. So it’s almost like your biology goes, “I don’t like this.” So somebody who’s listening to this or watching this who started at a -5, probably won’t have that same level of discomfort that you… You’re just gonna have still for a couple of dioptres as you go down. Once you get to -3, -2, a lot of that will go away because the optical quality of the L dioptre lens will be better.
22:58 Rae: Okay, that’s what I was thinking is once there’s probably a threshold where it’s like, “Alright. Now it’s more tolerable.” But I’m still really thrilled with the progress that I’ve been able to make, and then I think, I’m okay with slowing it down. It’s already much better. As long as I know honestly that it’s going in the right direction, it doesn’t really matter if it’s gonna happen in two years, three years, five years, it doesn’t really matter as long as it keeps going and not regressing. So that’s what I was gonna ask is have you had cases of people where they do make a ton of progress, and then for whatever reason, they do regress? Did they find that it’s a thing or not really?
23:50 S1: It’s really uncommon. It’s really, really uncommon because it’s everything you’re doing, it’s not mysterious magic. It’s just you’re reducing strain and you’re creating some stimulus. And once you’ve done that for four dioptres worth, you’ve built so much of a habit that it’s very unlikely that you wouldn’t just bounce back to a higher dioptre. If you do you break your leg and you’re in a hospital, or you’re locked in because of a virus and you start binge-watching Netflix with your contact lenses in, you will definitely regress. But you will regress a very predictable rate and you’ll go, “Okay, this is no good.” So it’s really easy to stop that and go back in the right direction. There has been some cases where some things have happened that have caused some loss of progress, but for you to just go back to a -9 is highly impossible.
24:46 Rae: Yeah, I saw the ophthalmologist maybe six months ago and he was like… How they do the… I don’t know what the scientific term is now called. They tested my eyes and he was like, “Wow, your eyes got a lot better.” And he kind of assumed from that, it was really interesting. He assumed because my vision got better that there would be no problem with my retinas. I guess, it’s an inverse thing where it’s like, “Well, if your vision got a lot worse, there’s probably something wrong with your retinas.” And then because my vision got a lot better, they were like, well, they almost skipped the scan. But I was like, “No, I just want to know ’cause I drove all the way here,” and just looked at him. But he was really impressed and then I told him I was using my contacts less and things like that. He was like, “Yeah.” He was like, “Yeah, that sometimes can help for certain cases and patients.” So he kind of bought in to the general concept, I think, of active focus. But it was interesting, yeah, ’cause he was just like, “Oh, well, your vision got better. So your retinas are probably fine.”
26:11 S1: Yeah, so I really resent when they call us patients because I used to get that, too. And I’m like, “I’m not a patient, I’m not sick.”
26:18 Rae: I’m not sick.
26:20 S1: It’s putting you in this place where you automatically feel like you’re accepting this authority and you’re like, “Oh, there’s something wrong with me.” I cringe whenever somebody says patients. I get upset about it actually because I’m like, “You’re calling people sick that aren’t sick.” As far as the retina thing’s concerned, I would still check retinal thinning. I can’t give medical advice ’cause I’m definitely not qualified. What does happen is as you’re… With high dioptre your eyeball’s more elongated and the retina is attached to the back of the eyeball and it doesn’t curve, like the eyeball is not supposed to have this big curve in it. And as it elongates it curves like a football and then the attachment of the retina becomes stressed. That’s why you get retinal detachment, because at some point, the attachment is getting pulled away from the eyeball. So the risk of retinal detachment is significantly higher with high myopia because the eyeball is elongated. So theoretically plausibly as the axial length should shorten as your myopia reduces, that attachment should become less stressed and your risk may reduce.
27:31 S1: But I’ve neither seen studies for this ’cause it’s kind of a… It’s not something that anybody expects for eyesight to improve, so there is not that much data on that. And also again, like I can’t give you medical advice. If it was me though, I would have regular check-ups just because you were in that space that wasn’t super great for your eyes and you just wanna make sure that there’s nothing… I would say it’s most likely gonna be fine, but I would still… With those kinds of things, it’s better to check, right? Because they’ll catch something before you have symptoms.
28:03 Rae: Yeah, exactly. Exactly, yeah. It was fun, they were… ‘Cause I don’t know exactly how the scan works, but in the past, because it’s kind of like you’re scanning the retina and then nothing was attached in my retinas, it was just there was thinning and there was… They called it degeneration. It sounds really terrifying, actually. And so they were… You’re trying to check on basically, the way that he described it to me is like it’s a piece of your retina, if it was a piece of fabric or cloth, right, its thread is starting to come lose because there’s not enough nutrients and blood flow going to the eye because the shape of your eyeball has changed and things like that, but everything’s fine. I’m happy to report I’m still going back and forth to doing that, but it does, I think, help just in terms of mental health and outlook, it helps at times just knowing, “Hey, I don’t have to be that way and be in pain all the time, and just be angsty about my vision and I don’t have to worry about it and think about it.” And so that’s just infiltrated a lot of other parts of my life just like, well, I can do things that I probably wouldn’t have done before. I can keep playing sports and things like that.
29:32 S1: What kind of sports are you playing?
29:36 Rae: I play… I actually took… Since I’ve moved back to Seattle, I played dodge ball, which is a super fun obscure sport. I played a lot of… I ran a lot actually as a kid. And then I’ve played a lot of golf. And so then now as an adult, those are pretty lonely sports, they’re pretty solitary. And so as an adult, dodge ball was a lot more fun and appealing because you’re going to large groups of people and you’re always on a team, you’re always playing against another team and there’s always a lot of camaraderie and competition which is fun.
30:19 S1: Dodge ball, is that what I’m thinking it is, like we played at school, like two groups of people and a ball and you throw it at the other side?
30:27 Rae: Yup. Literally, yup. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie, the… It’s like a Vince Vaughn, I think the American Dodge ball scene actually came like was inspired by that movie, from what I’m told. But yeah, it’s like two teams, they have different kinds of balls. So some of them are foam and softer and they don’t hurt when you get hit by them, and then they have the red rubber ones that make a noise when you get hit and leave marks. So I play with both. I prefer the foam one just because the risk of injury with the rubber ones are quite high, but it’s really fun and the people, the community there, probably much like Endmyopia, the community is what makes it so great. And so, yeah, it’s kind of an obscure sport, but it’s growing and it’s really fun and I don’t think I would be able to play it if I was always wearing glasses, but also at such a high prescription ’cause you need fast reaction times, you need a lot of peripheral vision.
31:40 Rae: So it helps me with that because I don’t have to practice it or be aware of it, like if I don’t have very good periphery vision, I’d just get hit in the face. So it’s good in that sense. But yeah, those sorts of things overall, my quality of life has improved a lot and things like that. I’m sure you’ve done that with a lot of other people as well. The Facebook group, I think I joined that a couple of months ago. That was awesome, too, just to see people posting progress reports. I should probably be more active in that just to help and stuff. But it’s just good. It’s actually awesome to see so many thousands of people working towards the same goal or struggling with the same things.
32:35 S1: It is truly bizarre. I feel like I’m in some ultimate reality because I went through a milder version of what you went through, and then just the way the whole thing has grown into a thing and the way it continues being ignored by the people that are supposed to help you like putting it all together, sometimes I feel like I’m gonna wake up tomorrow and it’s just gonna have been the bizarrest dream ever, right? Like how can somebody who’s in… If I’m an ophthalmologist and I heard or watched this story, how can I not go, “Let me dig into this.” Rather than telling people, my patients that this is their lot in life, what if there’s something to this, you know?
33:17 Rae: Yeah, and I found that the those who… Like the optometrist that I’ve seen, since I’ve discovered Endmyopia, which is just two, they’ve been really like flexible in the sense that they’ll… I tell them, I’m like, “Hey, I get really bad headaches when I work and stuff like that. And I don’t really use my glasses besides I basically work all day sort of a thing. I don’t need it for a whole lot else besides to drive.” A lot of times, they’ll say, “Oh, well, let me take it down.” And they offer to bring your near vision basically prescription and that when you drive, use your full prescription. And they’ll give me two prescriptions. So I was lucky to find optometrists that were open to the idea and they… I don’t know how much of the science and studies they’ve gotten read and analyzed. I hope a lot, but it seems more just like a gut thing. It’s what they practice now, I guess. And because I think my prescription was so high, they were comfortable doing that. I don’t know if they would have been as comfortable if I was a -3 or something like that.
34:39 S1: But also I have to say the dodge ball thing is fantastic. Because the thing is, when people call me and say the word exercise, or how many hours a day should I do active focus, or I’m really addicted to my screen, it often doesn’t translate. I can tell that a lot of times, people aren’t getting what I’m saying is the dodge ball thing, for example, using your eyesight because you don’t wanna get hit by that ball is a completely different thing than just trying to stare at an eye chart, trying to make yourself improve your eyesight like what you’re doing is long-term so much more reassuringly effective because your doctors will continue to decrease especially, if you’re wearing contact lenses that give you good vision, but you still have to challenge it for that activity. Because then, however much time you spend in that, there’s something that happens in your biology when the vision is required to escape danger or to compete in an environment where you’re gonna use it much more effectively and seriously than if you’re sitting back and you’re like, “I have to practice this.” So I’m just saying, this will help you get back to 20/20 because you’re using it in a way that your body requires it to function.
36:02 S1: Yeah, otherwise, I literally get hit in the face. Yeah, no, it’s been really a happy coincidence, I guess, that I found it. I’d probably play, I don’t know, four or five nights a week and stuff. And so it’s a really great way to just decompress like throwing… There is something very therapeutic about throwing a ball basically throwing something at another human being when you’re stressed out. Even though it’s in a safe environment, things like that but also just the vision part of it. I like it because I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to stare at the eye chart and make sure I can see now. If I see better, I throw better shots or I can dodge better and things like that. So it helps, I think, to your point about lifestyle changes and stuff. Anything that takes me away from a screen and TV and my phone is probably a good thing. But I mean it goes to show my boyfriend probably spends 12 hours a day on screen and he has decent habits. But his vision just doesn’t get worse. It’s insane. I don’t know what his DNA is made of, but it just doesn’t get any worse for how much time he spends in front of it. And I’m just like, “Well, good for you.” [chuckle]
37:37 S1: Well, there are genetic markers. There’s interesting studies. There are genetic markers for myopia, which people confuse that myopia is genetic. But it’s not the myopia it’s the stimulus response causing your eye to elongate is different in different groups of people. And unfortunately, these genetic markers that are associated with your eye tending to elongate easily given the wrong kind of stimulus is more prevalent in certain Asian cultures. So also not in everybody who’s Asian but there’s definitely a prevalence. And over the years, I’ve definitely anecdotally noticed frequently higher myopia incidence rates in certain Asian populations, which unfortunately doesn’t work both ways. Like your myopia doesn’t also improve faster, but it tends to go further. There’s a lot of people who stop at -4, -5, and it just doesn’t progress beyond that. But then there’s other who will just go to -15, and there’s never an equilibrium that seems to happen where you’re just like, “That’s it.” For somebody like yourself, that intervention is necessary to stop the progression. Otherwise, you’re just headed off the cliff.
39:00 Rae: Yeah, yeah. And I think that’s a good point is, I think, maybe some people do plateau at a certain rate. My parents both had glasses and they are like… If you look at my family tree, we probably have the genetic marker right somewhere down the line. But my grandparents were farmers and they spent all day outside farming. So they never needed glasses or anything like that. And then my parents were the first generation to be college-educated. They spent a lot of time reading books and then computers and things like that. And so they had… I think, my dad is a -6 or -5 in his glasses and things like that. My mom got LASIK but was very similar in prescription. And it’s interesting because my sister and I are higher in prescription probably because we have phones and we’re entertained by our screens and things like that now. But it is interesting because you can almost draw a correlation like, “Oh, well, the amount of hours you spend inside looking at close-up things, probably affects your vision.” And that may not be the case for other people who don’t have the genetic marker. But I was thinking about it like, yeah, we definitely have whatever that… Like in Asian populations, the lactose intolerance gene is pretty common. And I’m like, “Yeah, this is just one of those things where kind of like the optometrist said, yeah, you have it and you just have to manage it, but it’s much better knowing how to manage it.”
40:49 S1: Yeah, and it’s super simple because if you’re wearing differentials for close up, if you’re wearing a reduced correction for close-up that you don’t get hyperopic defocus, your myopia doesn’t increase, your ciliary spasm is lower. Alright, that’s the number one thing if you don’t want increasing myopia you can’t wear distance corrections for close-up. And then along with that, if you reduce your distance correction to where you see clearly but you have some level of blurred challenge and then you add something like dodge ball, your myopia will gradually reduce. It just will. There’s not much more magic to it. People, a lot of times love these internet things that that have all these exercises. And you also need to take these vitamins and all these secret ingredients where the reality is really that simple. Avoid the hyperopic defocus in close-up, reduce your distance correction to where you have some challenge and then add an activity that makes you use that vision and challenge on an ongoing basis. That’s all it really takes, genetic marker or not. Lifestyle that involves a lot of screens or not, you will still get rid of your myopia if you just have those basic ingredients.
42:04 Rae: Yeah, and it’s awesome that you built a system where you can afford to get lazy, I guess. If I think about it, as in actually like you’re trying to train for a marathon or something. The most successful programs are always the ones that build in rest and break and cheat days, things where you can take a step back or you don’t have to be focused on this all the time. And so I was really focused on improving my vision and myopia and I read every… Not everything but I read a lot of stuff on your website and a lot of studies. I did that for probably two months and then I just stopped. And it became automatic. And then your email came and it was like, “How are you doing?” Like, “Hey, yeah, I should talk about this and try to give back and things like that.” But it’s really awesome.
43:15 Rae: Now I’m at the point where I’m trying to do that delicate dance of… Because I’m so happy with how much progress my eyes have made, I’m like, “I know people who also have pretty severe myopia.” And I’m like, “How much do I tell them? How do I do this without making it sound like I’m crazy or trying to sell you the spaghetti monster religion thing.” I haven’t mastered that yet. But I do want them to be aware of it.” And I found kind of like you said people from other cultures or who are aware and travel a lot and things like that certain things resonate with them more than others. I have friends who are Italian who now live in America but they totally understand. They’re like, “Yeah.” Because people in their life had glasses just for driving. That was their thing. They’re like, “Yes. My eyes are not perfect, but I see good enough without glasses, and that I just wear glasses for driving.” So they become culturally driving glasses. And so because they never wear them for anything else besides driving, they don’t… I think they are less likely to then need them for other things. And so they’re like, “Yeah. This makes total sense. This is your eye’s natural response to what you put in front of it…
44:54 S1: I’m not good at it either. I have to say, sadly. And that the only thing I’ve found is that it’s up to you. You’re gonna find this resource but you’re only gonna care about this information if you have a need for it. If you are in a situation where if you’re physically in pain and you’re headed down a bad path, you’re willing to do this. If you’re a pilot and you need to pass some eyesight qualification you’ll do it. If you’re somehow motivated to improve yourself, you’ll do it. Otherwise, putting this information in front of people doesn’t make them take action. It’s sad to me because a lot of times if I… I have friends that have -2 dioptres. They wear contact lenses. I’m like, “You could be rid of this in no time.” But they say, “I spend 30 seconds in the morning to go whoop and I stick those things in my eyes and I’m fine. So it’s not worth it to me to go through the trouble.”
45:48 Rae: Yeah, and that’s more of a lifestyle choice, I guess. I have friends who have children or thinking of having children they are generally more interested, especially my Asian friends ’cause I think it’s always a concern that you’re gonna pass on your bad vision to your children.
46:07 S1: No iPads, no iPads. That’s the thing. No iPads.
46:13 Rae: Yeah, no iPads. Yeah, I had a friend who was thinking who didn’t… Was considering not having children because she had such poor… She was so myopic. And then I sent her a few studies and I was like, “Hey, take a look.” And she’s a pharmacist. So she was very comfortable reading basically research papers and things like that. And so she was like, “Wow, this is insane.” And to your point earlier, she was like, why is this not the main way that… She was like, this is a really well-done study. I don’t understand why this didn’t make more news even amongst the… Not the medical community but the optometrist community. And I don’t know. I genuinely don’t know. It’s agonizing actually.
47:12 S1: It’s like that. My dad is a doctor and he’s really into physical fitness. He runs a lot and he plays a lot of sports, even now. He’s in his 70s. He’s really a health-focused guy. And he’s a doctor and he’s a really, he… People love the guy and they travel from all over to see him. And just right like… It seems like this is a guy who has it together. He takes statin drugs for his heart because he has high cholesterol. And I sent him the studies, the detailed breakdown of what statins do to you and why it’s probably not a good idea and he won’t look at them. He’s just like, “Nope, if you don’t take statins, you’re gonna die. The end.” And I don’t know what it is. And I’m not a psychologist, I’m not a psychiatrist but my inkling is that there’s something in the established belief in something and then we put that in there as a pillar of our reality and that’s how it is.
48:16 S1: And the more we repeat that to other people, the more we intrinsically ingest the thing, whatever the case may be, the more that’s just this is it. And I’ve moved on to other parts of my reality and people don’t really wanna take that pillar apart again, it seems. I don’t really know but just because it’s my father, I know the guy pretty well, and the fact that he’s so into health but yet he will not even look at this possibility. I think similar things happen with people in that industry where they’ve learned this in school and they’ve told other people this for the last 20 years of their life and they’re not ready to go that deep into the rabbit hole of, “Did I say and do the wrong thing?” I don’t know.
49:00 Rae: Right, well, it is like what you said about a pillar of your reality, that is, at least for me, what and myopia it actually changed my reality for the better. But you’re right in the sense that like you all know, I’m not a psychologist or anything, but I think you probably have to be open to having your reality changed for this to really work. And yeah, I think my dad is similar in that way but he’s always like, when I point those things out to him, he’s like, “Do as I say not as I do.” And that’s, it’s just old habits die hard or something. But yeah, it is really interesting ’cause it makes me wonder if the next generation of people… I think this is awesome that there’s a resource out here for the next generation of people who want to, when they’re being prescribed another half dioptre up from what they were before, and they just… I remember being frustrated and being like, “Why does it keep getting worse?” No one has any answers. And eventually you give up, ’cause there are no answers. And the optometrist tells you, “That’s your lot.” At least now there is something where in that moment of frustration you’re trying to find answers, there is an alternative answer if you go looking. That’s awesome. Hopefully, that starts to make a difference. And I think it is.
50:30 S1: Yeah, I think so, too. There’s still a lot of sarcasm and obscure humor and rants on that website. Whenever somebody says, “I spent a couple months reading through it,” I always have a moment of guilt. I’m like, “Wow, I should remember. People actually read this. It’s not just me writing these things for my own opinion.”
50:49 Rae: Well, I have to say I was expecting you to be a lot more sarcastic given how much of that dripped through your website. So it’s nice that you’re not, ’cause I was like, “I don’t know if we’re gonna be able to have a conversation if he’s that sarcastic.” But it is good ’cause it encourages people to be skeptical, everything they read.
51:10 S1: And I write out of that motivation. It’s like, when you listen to songs, songs are usually there’s some strong emotional content in music and I write out of that. It comes from that space. An optometrist called somebody a patient and then I have to write something and it’s sort of therapeutic for myself to go, “Here’s why this is wrong.” But that’s why there’s sarcasm ’cause I have to deal with the anger in some way. But then when we’re having a conversation, it’s a different thing because I’m happy that you’re having this experience. I’m happy that we’re having this conversation. So I’m not in that same space where you’re not reading into some suppressed anger. I’m just happy that we’re doing this. And I think it’s also important for people and I think the change in tone and I really like having these kinds of conversations just to give you somebody, give somebody listening a totally different way to get into that content.
52:08 Rae: Yeah, it’s great. The ones that you’ve done in the past, and I think some people have even gone on to post progress updates on their own YouTube channels and stuff. They’ve been awesome just because it’s a different voice, but also obviously, A, that it works and there is hope for people out there and things like that. So those are great… Progress updates are always awesome. Yeah, if there’s anything I can do to help, I’m happy to send you those sorts of things.
52:46 S1: No, actually though, maybe we should just keep in touch. And then when you’re another dioptre or two lower, we can have a little follow-up and see how your dodge ball career’s going.
52:57 Rae: Well, it’s all put on hold now. Everything has been canceled. Yeah, it’s really sad. Actually, it was devastating ’cause people were building teams and training for it and stuff. But yeah, hopefully, when we get back out into some sort of normalcy from COVID, we’ll be able to catch up again and hopefully, you won’t be trapped in Bangkok. Do you live in Bangkok?
53:27 S1: No, no. I had to go somewhere when this started and I picked the place that I thought would be most survivable.
53:37 Rae: That’s fair, okay. Well, the food is amazing.
53:39 S1: I know. That’s part of the reason. Well, awesome. I really appreciate you being on and hopefully we’ll have another one of these when you’re at -3 or thereabouts.
53:51 Rae: Yeah, I hope so. That’s something to look forward to.
53:54 S1: Awesome, thank you.
53:56 Rae: Thanks for having me.
53:58 S1: Alright, that was Rae. I hope you’re getting something out of these episodes. I’m glad to share them with you. I’m excited to share them with you. I think it’s really important, especially if you’re on your own journey of improving your eyesight to get this little bit of context to hear other people making improvements. There’s a lot more of this on the website endmyopia.org detailed improvement reports, what people went through, what people did, and hopefully things that are useful for your own journey. That’s it for this episode. Subscribe to our podcast if you haven’t yet. And the next one will be coming soon.