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Reverse vision problems naturally

Reading time: 13 minutes

Four thousand years ago, treatments for vision problems were pretty wild – plant extracts and minerals were blown into the eyes. Breast milk, blood, urine and semen were mixed with water, wine or oil and applied as ointments. An Assyrian recipe for dry eyes called for the gall of a freshly disemboweled frog mixed with raw onion.

Nowadays, we have stem cell therapy, LASIK and prescription Dolce & Gabbanas. And yet, as effective as medical treatments for vision problems have become, we’re still a long way from understanding the root causes of many eye issues. And choosing natural approaches to eye health over the normal prescriptions-and-surgery route is still highly suspect.

According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 253 million people worldwide live with vision impairment, and 36 million people are blind. In the US, approximately 75 percent of adults use some sort of vision correction. In the UK the figure is 68 percent. But while prescription lenses are a blessing to millions, that doesn’t mean they don’t come with risks. Indeed, just like our eyes, there is plenty of room for improvement.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, bacterial, fungal and parasitic infections can occur if lenses and cases are not kept clean. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that more than 80 percent of contact lens wearers are at risk for a contact lens-related eye infection. Not only do contacts deprive the eye’s lens of oxygen, bacterial infections such as blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelids) can arise simply as a result of handling glasses and contacts, as can bacterial keratitis, an infection of the cornea that causes pain, reduced vision, light sensitivity and eye discharge. Styes – those painful, pimple-like bumps that grow at the edges of the eyelid – and conjunctivitis, also known as “pink eye,” are also common results of wearing glasses and contacts.

Over half a million people in the US opt for LASIK surgery every year. And yet the possible side-effects of LASIK include dry eyes, which can reduce the quality of vision, as well as glare, halos and double vision, reduced visual acuity in dim light, and difficulty seeing at night. Under-corrections can require another LASIK procedure to remove more tissue. Over-corrections, where too much tissue is removed from the eye, are usually not correctable. Astigmatism caused by uneven tissue removal can require more surgery, glasses or contact lenses. Folding or removing the flap at the front of the eye during surgery can cause infections, reduced clarity of vision and possible vision loss.1

And then there is the issue of constantly needing stronger and stronger (expensive) prescriptions to be able to see properly. Vision professionals, the Mayo Clinic and thousands of vision websites assure us that wearing corrective lenses does not weaken our eyes. They confidently state this is pure myth. And yet, is there a person alive at 60 wearing the same glasses they wore in their thirties, forties or even their fifties? Simply repeating the claim that human eyes naturally get worse with age over and over doesn’t necessarily make it true.

Despite the lack of studies investigating the effects of long-term use of corrective lenses in adults, some doctors and vision specialists say this “myth” has substance. And many vision professionals have proven that the inevitability of eye aging and deterioration is just plain wrong.

Beyond conventional treatment

Traditional medical opinion holds that as our eyes age, they naturally change and become more rigid, developing problems with the cornea, lens, retina, macula, and even the shape and interior pressure of the vitreous, the gel that fills the eyeball (see box, page 59). The involuntary ciliary muscles connecting the iris to the choroid (the pigmented vascular layer of the eyeball between the retina and the sclera) are thought to be solely responsible for altering the curvature of the lens depending on what we’re looking at.

The voluntary extraocular muscles (muscles that move the eye up, down, side to side, and rotate it) are considered to have nothing to do with the health of one’s vision. Most conditions such as near and farsightedness, astigmatism, amblyopia (“lazy” eye), glaucoma (gradual blindness caused by increased pressure inside of the eyeball), retinitis pigmentosa (degenerative disease of the retina causing night blindness and vision loss) and macular degeneration (degeneration of the center of the retina, destroying central vision and gradually leading to blindness) are known to be inherited and often regarded as unavoidable.

It’s not that traditional medicine is wrong. The problem is that most ophthalmologists and optometrists seldom look further than convention for answers and refuse to consider solutions other than corrective lenses and surgery.

“Conventional medicine is completely clueless about the underlying causes to most diseases,” says Dr Andy Rosenfarb, a naturopathic doctor, acupuncturist and author of Acupuncture Treatment for Macular Degeneration: Clinically Proven Methods to Recover & Preserve Retinal Health. “They know that diabetic retinopathy is caused by diabetes. But if you follow that logic, every other chronic degenerative eye disease has a similar underlying systemic disease process that is completely overlooked by researchers.

“For example, macular degeneration is an extension of cardiovascular disease. It’s the same disease found in a different location in the body. It’s the buildup of cholesterol in the eye as opposed to the heart. Anything that is heart healthy will be healthy for macular degeneration, and anything done to treat macular degeneration is going to be heart healthy.

“Normal-tension glaucoma and retinitis pigmentosa are autoimmune conditions that conventional medicine has no real treatment for because they don’t know that in most cases they’re dealing with a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system.”

An internationally renowned expert in the field of Chinese medical ophthalmology, Rosenfarb has used microacupuncture with more than 10,000 patients from around the world for every known eye condition.

A contemporary hybrid system that has evolved by combining several different acupuncture systems, microacupuncture is highly beneficial for many internal conditions as well as pain, neuropathies (nerve inflammation and pain) and arthritis. “We were studying patients with arthritis,” says Rosenfarb, “and the patients with arthritis started to report that their vision was getting better. So we pulled out our eye charts and started to look at that.”

Twenty years of research later, Rosenfarb has developed a system of microacupuncture specifically for treating eye conditions, from dry eyes to cataracts to glaucoma. To date, 85 percent of his patients with macular degeneration – thought to be an irreversible and incurable disease affecting more than 10 million Americans – experience “measurable improvement” within the first 10 tre
atments. This means that their visual acuity is better by some objective measurement, instead of just subjective reports of seeing better.

“Very advanced conditions of macular degeneration may respond a little bit less,” Rosenfarb says. “If you’re legally blind with a Seeing Eye dog, our objective is to see what vision we can recover. Once we have hit a threshold or plateau on what we can recover, then it’s about helping people keep their vision long term.”

Unfortunately, such results are usually ignored by most mainstream eye doctors. Rosenfarb talks about a recent patient he treated who had been diagnosed with early-stage macular degeneration. When she went back to her regular eye doctor, he could no longer detect it, but when she excitedly told him about Rosenfarb’s protocol, he didn’t want to hear about it.

Public awareness of natural eye treatments is so low that even individuals practicing alternative healing don’t know about it. Ralph V. from New York City, a patient of Dr Marc Grossman, an optometrist and acupuncturist in New Paltz, NY, and author of Natural Eye Care: Your Guide to Healthy Vision, said he was amazed to discover that natural eye treatments were even available.

“I went to Dr Grossman because I had been told I had tiny cataracts developing, my internal eye pressure kept inching higher, and the optic nerve in one of my eyes was diminished,” Ralph says. “He put me on nutritional supplements specifically for the optic nerve, as well as other nutrition to support the eye and homeopathic drops for the cataracts.

“My optic nerve completely corrected itself, the cataracts have not grown, and the pressure is down for the first time in a few years. Having been in the healing arts myself for 35 years, it’s amazing to think that I somehow didn’t apply my understanding of how the body-mind heals to my eyes!”

Numerous clinical studies show that acupuncture, microcurrent stimulation, herbal remedies, dietary changes and other alternative approaches are effective for treating a wide variety of eye conditions.

Acupuncture aids in improving blurred or distorted vision, central scotomas (depressed central vision), dry eyes and other symptoms of macular degeneration.2 Acupuncture can also repair and reconstruct the visual pathways and aid in healing in cases of optic neuropathy,3 and it has shown effectiveness for treating open-angle glaucoma.4

Ginkgo biloba extract has been found to provide significant improvement in patients with senile macular degeneration.5 The use of microcurrents – where a low electrical current is applied to the eyelids – has also been shown to delay degeneration of the macula and possibly improve both the ‘wet’ and ‘dry’ forms of age-related macular degeneration.6

The use of low-level laser therapy (see page 28 for our Special Report on this technology) has proven effective for treating a variety of retinal conditions including age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy and amblyopia.7

Increasing the amount of dietary fat and fatty fish consumption in the diet also decreases the likelihood of developing age-related maculopathy.8 And numerous studies have shown that marijuana reduces intraocular pressure in people suffering from glaucoma.9

Another huge component when it comes to eye health and healing is emotional and psychological wellbeing. Optometrist Marc Grossman is also a practitioner and teacher of the Bates Method for natural eye health, and he says it’s vital to realize every patient and their condition is unique.

For example, the eye physically stops growing around age 14. If nearsightedness develops before that age, it likely has a genetic cause. But if a man or woman comes into his office at age 20 or 40 with sudden nearsightedness, he says, it’s not like lightning struck. Something is going on in their life.

To determine the cause of a problem and the course of treatment, Grossman looks at case history, age of onset, diet, and the physical and emotional/psychological environment six months to two years before the condition develops.

One young woman came to him for a consultation after she’d been diagnosed with macular degeneration in her right eye by a retinal specialist. “I asked her, ‘What’s been going on in your life?’ And she said, ‘My father is dying, and I’m taking care of him.’ In Chinese medicine, the right eye is the masculine eye – the ‘father eye.’ Having to take care of her father, all her energy was going out of her right eye.”

After Grossman treated her with acupuncture and nutrition, the disease reversed and then stabilized. Seven years later, her right eye is still stable with no deterioration.

The Bates Method

Perhaps the best known alternative eye treatment system is the Bates Method, developed in the early 20th century by Dr William Horatio Bates.

Quite the radical, Bates attributed nearly all vision problems to eye strain of the extraocular muscles. He believed that corrective lenses were harmful and unnecessary and that relaxation of the eyes and the mind, combined with stimulating one’s internal visualization capacities, were directly related to restoring and maintaining good vision.

Grossman employs Bates’ visual practices (eye exercises), including palming (the practice of covering the eyes with one’s palms and resting the eyes for several minutes at a time during the day) and sunning (facing the sun with eyes closed, moving the head back and forth, warming both eyes). Nathan Oxenfeld, natural vision specialist and author of Give Up Your Glasses for Good: Holistic Eyecare for the 21st Century, is also a practitioner and teacher of the Bates Method who came to the practice via the path of yoga.

Oxenfeld, who had worn glasses since childhood, first noticed that yoga improved his visual acuity. “Instead of wearing contacts, I would wear glasses to my yoga classes and remove them for the full hour,” he says. “At the end of the class my vision was always better.”

He reasoned that the yogic eye exercises combined with whole-body movements were stimulating blood circulation to his eyes, which was leading to better visual acuity. Today, he teaches yogic exercises and breathing techniques as well as Bates practices for eye health and healing.

“In reality, the vision improvement process has more to do with the mind and improving memory, imagination and your visualization skills – picturing things with your eyes closed, imagining things using your mind’s eye,” he says. “I find people who already have a meditation practice or who begin a meditation practice in conjunction with vision training
get much better results because they are aware that good vision goes beyond physical eyesight. It’s almost more a form of brain training.”

He says one of his most rewarding clients was an 89-year-old woman who was nearsighted in one eye and farsighted in the other. Diagnosed with astigmatism, glaucoma, macular degeneration and cataracts, she also lacked depth perception. Using the Bates Method and other yoga-based techniques, by the time she turned 90, her glaucoma numbers stabilized, one eye decreased in pressure, she got her three-dimensional vision back, and she was starting to read magazines and newspapers without her reading glasses.

“Vision is a full-body experience,” says Oxenfeld. “It’s not just isolated in your eyeballs or even in your brain. The majority of people believe that vision loss is a natural byproduct of aging and that it’s inevitable. But that’s only true if you do absolutely nothing to prevent it. It’s only true for so many people because nobody’s doing anything to stop it.”

The human eye at a glance

The eye is an asymmetrical orb, approximately one inch in diameter. The visible parts are the iris (the colored portion of the eye), the cornea (the clear protective dome covering the iris), the pupil (the black opening in the iris) and the sclera (the whites of the eyes).

The lens lies behind the pupil, and the inside of the eye is filled with a clear gel called the vitreous. The inside lining of the eye is covered by light-sensing cells called the retina, which convert optical images into electrical signals.

The macula, a small spot on the retina, controls centralized vision. Behind the eye, the optic nerve transmits electrical signals from the retina to the visual cortex located in the occipital lobe of the brain, at the back of the skull.

In the normal, healthy eye, the cornea is clear, smooth and round, and the lens is clear, allowing light rays to pass through. However, if the cornea is not smooth, clear or round, and/or if the eyeball itself is too long or too short, light rays will bend (refraction), striking the retina at odd angles and leading to blurry or distorted vision.

If the eyeball is too long, myopia or nearsightedness results, making objects difficult to see clearly at a distance. If the eyeball is too short, hyperopia or farsightedness occurs, with the opposite effect.

Problems focusing can also arise if the normally clear lens becomes cloudy (cataracts) or it becomes stiff, causing an inability to bring close objects into
focus (presbyopia).

Astigmatism (general blurred vision) occurs when the cornea or lens are irregularly shaped.

Palming exercise

Nathan Oxenfeld recommends the following Bates Method palming exercise to relax the eyes and stimulate more vision clarity.

Rub your hands together briskly to create heat through friction, and place your cupped palms over your closed eyes to block as much light as possible. Rest your elbows on a surface so your arms don’t get tired. Remain aligned in your spine and don’t slouch. Relax your shoulders and take a deep breath.

Notice if you see the color black or if you observe any other lights, colors or shapes. Remind your eyes that there is nothing to see right now. Instead of focusing on your eyesight (what your eyes are physically sensing), begin to activate your in-sight (what your mind is focusing on).

Using your mind’s eye (your imagination and visualization) remember the last meal that you ate. Was it breakfast, lunch or dinner? Did you prepare the meal yourself
at home or did you eat at
a restaurant?

Can you remember what it smelled like? Tasted like? Sounded like as you chewed your food? Can you picture the texture of the foods you ate? Can you picture your surroundings as you ate?

Don’t worry if you’re not physically “seeing” anything. Just keep remembering and pretending that you’re back there. Do not force it. Just allow whatever appears. Do not stare.

Let your eyes be free to move around or be open behind your cupped palms.

After visualizing for a few moments, check in with the quality of the blackness you see. Does it seem darker than when you started?

Feel the warmth of your hands and the softness of your eye muscles. Slowly remove your palms and let your eyes readjust to the light before you blink them back open. Does your vision seem brighter, more colorful, more vivid, more clear?

Repeat this several times a day to achieve cumulative benefits.

Supplement protocols

The following are supplements and nutritional drinks recommended by Dr Marc Grossman for certain eye conditions. Juice as many of the listed vegetables and fruits as possible every morning and drink while fresh. Please note that these are general protocols for both preventative use and treatment. An individualized program for each patient is recommended.


Vitamin A: 5,000 IU

Beta carotene: 15,000 IU

Vitamin C: 2,000 mg

Coenzyme Q10: 100 mg

Coleus: 200 mg

Bilberry: 200 mg

Grape seed extract:
200 mg

Ginkgo biloba: 120 mg

Omega-3 oils: 1,000 mg

Omega-6 oils: 1,000 mg

Alpha lipoic acid: 150 mg

Juicing recipe

Celery, cucumber, carrots, radish, parsley, turnip, beets, raspberries, cabbage, apple and plums (not too much fruit)


Vitamin A: 5,000 IU

Beta carotene: 15,000 IU

Lutein: 10 mg

Meso-zeaxanthin: 10 mg

Zeaxanthin: 2 mg

Vitamin C: 2,000 mg

Magnesium: 500 mg

Bilberry: 200 mg

Grape seed extract:
200 mg

Resveratrol: 100 mg

Omega-3 oils: 1,000 mg

Omega-6 oils: 1,000 mg

Taurine: 500 mg

Zinc: 30 mg

Wear wrap-around style, UV-blocking sunglasses

Eliminate smoking

Microcurrent stimulation treatment

Juicing recipe

Broccoli, green and red bell pepper, raspberries, apples, leafy greens


Vitamin A: 5,000 IU

Beta carotene: 15,000 IU

B2: 100 mg

Vitamin C: 2,000 mg

Vitamin D: 2,000 IU

Vitamin E: 400 IU

Chromium: 200 mcg

Carnosine: 1,000 mg

Zinc: 30 mg

Selenium: 200 mcg

Alpha lipoic acid: 150 mg

N-Acetylcysteine: 600 mg

Succus Cineria Maritima (homeopathic eye drop remedy for cataracts): 1 drop, 3 times/day

N-acetylcarnosine eye drops such as Can-C, with 1 percent N-acetylcarnosine, or OcluMed eye drops (with glutathione and N-acetylcarnosine): 1 drop, 3 times/day

Juicing recipe

Carrot, celery, spinach, endive, blueberry, parsley, apple

Reversing the irreversible: stories of recovery

Jane W. of Greenwich, CT, age 62, had been seeing Dr Marc Grossman for 15 years. At the time of her first visit, her eyesight was 20/40, and she had minor cataracts. Grossman prescribed homeopathic drops, fusion (combination) drops, compounded natural tablet supplements and castor oil applied to her eyelids daily.

“I am delighted to report that over these years my vision has improved to 20/25 in both eyes, along with decreased density of cataracts,” she says. “I only wear glasses sometimes for reading and working on the computer. This experience shows me that with effective care, I can progress, not decline, even at my age.”

Sylvia B. of Granton, Ontario, Canada, age 54, was diagnosed with myopia at age seven. Her prescription numbers started at 2.5 and ended up at 6.5 by the age of 18. Prescribed stronger lenses every time she went for a checkup as an adult, she became convinced that constantly wearing glasses was making her eyes more and more lazy.

A search for a natural way to correct her vision led her to Nathan Oxenfeld, who recommended relaxation practices for her eyes. She also began ordering ever-weaker prescriptions and spent as much time as possible working in her garden without glasses. Her prescription is now down to 4.5 and continuing to drop.

Nancy P., 67, of Asheville, NC, wore progressively stronger lenses for both near and far vision, and got her first pair of reading glasses when she was in her early 40s. Ten years later, she needed them for distance as well. Her astigmatism got worse, and she began to develop cataracts. “At the time, I assumed this was simply a fact of aging,” she says.

Working with Nathan,she did daily warm-up drills, sunned and palmed her eyes, and worked her chart almost every day.

“I also do not wear any sunglasses,” she says. “I found my eyes improving rather quickly. In a few months’ time I passed the vision test for my driver’s license with no problem. Over time, my near vision improved as well. Today I only wear glasses from time to time to check very small print. I no longer have cataracts, and my astigmatism is getting better.”

Lillian R., an 80-year-old patient of Dr Andy Rosenfarb, suffers from diabetic retinopathy and severe vision loss.

“My ophthalmologist said I was legally blind. After about 20 treatments with Andy, I went back to my eye doctor, and he said that he was very surprised to see that my eyesight had actually gotten better since my last appointment.”


Dr Andy Rosenfarb :

Dr. Marc Grossman,

Nathan Oxenfeld,



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Article Topics: Eye, Ophthalmology
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