Many of us today, are walking around with one or more of the most common eye problems — cataracts, macular degeneration, glaucoma, myopia ”near-sightedness” and hyperopia ”far-sightedness.” When we go see a doctor, we are either told that we have to get a surgery or use prescription drugs or glasses for the rest of our lives and that our eyesight and eye health cannot be reversed. One of the main reasons why people end up doing these types of treatments is that most people are unaware of some of the main causes of poor eye health and that many common eye health problems can actually be reversed naturally.
So, what are the most common causes for poor eye health? And more importantly, how can we improve our eye health and eyesight naturally?
This week, I am talking to holistic optometrist Dr. Sam Berne. Having been diagnosed with an eye condition in his early childhood, he wanted to know how to improve his vision. This brought him on a journey where he learned how to naturally improve eyesight and heal the most common eye problems without the need for surgery. In this podcast, we get into some amazing content around natural eye health, with links to my work in The Energy Blueprint (things like mitochondrial health and hormesis). Even if you think you’re not that interested in eye health, I really want to encourage you to watch/listen to this, because this is must-know material to keep your eyes healthy for life. In this podcast, Dr. Berne will share how he has helped thousands of people improve their eyesight naturally, and he’ll get into four of his powerful natural eye care tips to improve your eye health.
In this podcast, you’ll learn
- What types of foods you should eat regularly for optimal eye health
- The creative (and VERY counter-intuitive) way to improve your eyesight
- The most common causes of eye problems
- Why conventional treatment can harm your vision
- The truth about many eye diseases being “irreversible” (and how you can actually reverse them naturally)
- Why digital devices are harmful to your eyesight (and how to counteract it)
- The importance of colors and light for eye health
- How exposure to certain types of discomforts (eye hormesis) improves eyesight and eye health
- How to take your eyes to the “eye gym”
- 4 powerful natural eye health strategies
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How To Improve Eye Health Naturally │ 4 Natural Eye Care Tips to Treat Common Eye Problems with Dr. Sam Berne – Trancript
Ari Whitten: Hi everyone, I’m Ari Whitten, and welcome back to the Energy Blueprint podcast. Today I am with Dr. Sam Berne, who is a holistic optometrist and does some absolutely fascinating work in the realm of eye health and the interface between the eyes and the brain. Welcome, Dr. Sam Berne. I am super excited to have this discussion with you.
Dr. Sam Berne: Thank you. It’s really great to be here.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. You do a lot of unique stuff. You don’t just focus on kind of typical optometry sort of stuff. There’s a lot of unique things that you’re doing in your work and I would love if you could just talk a bit about your background and how you got into this, because you have a fascinating personal story, and kind of do an overview of the work that you do.
Dr. Sam Berne: Well, my initiation started when I was about eight years old. I had a pretty difficult childhood, and I have a learning disability, and my parents took me everywhere to try and figure it out. We ended up in an eye doctor’s office and I got a pair of nearsighted glasses. It didn’t really touch my learning problem at all and I was a memorizer. That’s basically how I got through school, worked really hard. My eyes kept getting progressively worse. When I graduated optometry school, I met a holistic eye doctor, he was in his seventies, and I went through his program called Vision Therapy, which is a form of physical therapy to improve your eyes and vision. He diagnosed me with a condition called convergence insufficiency, which means that my two eyes weren’t working together, and my left eye would wander out, and I actually saw double vision.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Dr. Sam Berne: Going through his program, I repaired that and my reading and learning skyrocketed. The second thing that happened was that I completely dissolved my really strong nearsighted prescription, so I was able to see 20/20, and 30 years later, I’m still seeing 20/20 at distance and near.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Dr. Sam Berne: I was able to change my prescription. Those two things inspired me to open a practice in the Philadelphia area and it was a holistic practice, but I had such difficulty getting patients…
What I did is I went to one of the local hospitals nearby and I offered my services in the Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic. These are patients with double vision, memory problems, vestibular issues. I applied this physical therapy to the eyes and it was an incredible success, and so I started to get contracts at other hospitals. Then I worked with the special needs population, so I worked with kids with cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome, and that’s how I built my practice in the Philadelphia area. That just started me on the road of helping people from a more holistic perspective.
How the medical industry often ruins your eyesight rather than healing it
Ari Whitten: Yeah, and this is fascinating. I think there’s a big distinction here, which is that you’re doing a lot of stuff that is really kind of outside of typical optometry stuff. I think most optometrists just sort of focus very much on the eyes and not so much on, at least this is my understanding, not so much on the interface between the eyes and the brain. Is that fairly accurate to say?
Dr. Sam Berne: Well, the science says that in fetal development in the first trimester, the eyes actually grow out from the brain, so every tissue of the eye is really brain tissue. That brings us into something called neurogenesis, which means that you can regenerate the eyes.
My approach actually helps people do things like reverse cataracts, reverse macular degeneration, reverse glaucoma, improve refractive errors through natural methods. I’m not using pharmaceuticals and surgery, which actually takes you away, further away from your healing capability and over the years I’ve had thousands of successes of people who have had these diagnosis.
It’s very scary when we go to the eye doctor, and they give you this diagnosis, and they basically say, “Well, we’ll watch it,” or, “You’re going to go blind and nothing will work.” I’m there to say, “Well, actually, there’s a lot of things you can do.” There’s a lot of connections. The eyes actually reflect if there’s problems, chronic disease in the body, inflammation and stress, and we can get into those things. Yeah, you can improve your vision at any age and that’s my mission.
The most common eye problems
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. I want to dig into that some more. Let me, I guess, backup just a minute and talk about some of the most typical eye conditions, like macular degeneration, glaucoma. What’s another one? A big one is cataracts. Maybe for people who are unfamiliar with those things, could you explain a little bit about what each of those conditions are? Also, if I’m neglecting to mention another condition that’s also important, please mention that.
Dr. Sam Berne: Okay. I would probably put dry eye syndrome in there just because of the digital device use. What happens with our eyes is we get into these repetitive movements. It’s a redundancy or a stasis and this actually shuts down the energy flow in our retina. The retina has one of the highest metabolic needs of the body, and the macula has the highest metabolic need of the retina. I would say it this way, the mitochondria shut down. They’re not producing ATP, and the visual system, and the eye tissue are in a starvation pattern.
What I actually do in my eye therapy is I take people really far from their status quo and I challenge their vision. In challenging their vision, it creates more energy flow, it creates a neurogenesis, and this is a way they’re able to improve their vision pretty immediately. I can give more specific examples, but that’s a core philosophy for me, is to take people out of their familiar zone with how they see and immediately it creates more energy in the retinal cells.
How to use hormesis to improve eye health
Ari Whitten: That’s beautiful. As we were talking about a bit before the podcast, you’re speaking my language now, because one of my favorite topics that I’ve talked a few times about on this podcast is hormesis, this idea of temporary metabolic stress, temporary challenges and how those stimulate the system to make adaptations that ultimately confer resilience, or better health, or better function.
Dr. Sam Berne: Right on. For example, one of the things I do in my eye therapy is I put people into blurry vision. Because blur, for most people, is, “I’m going to get it wrong. I’m going to get injured. I’m scared.” Actually, when you go into your blur, and I have reverse glasses that I actually give people, and they have to walk, and move, and balance. When they take those blurry glasses off, their eyesight is crystal clear.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Dr. Sam Berne: I also use prism glasses that actually shift people into different parts of their peripheral vision that they’re blind about, they’re not accessing peripheral vision. That scares the heck out of them, but it actually, what it does, is it creates more mitochondria production, ATP, and when they take them off, their eyes actually reset back to a higher functioning state. Eye patch is another disruptor. When you start using an eye patch, this actually disrupts your habitual way of focusing. It’s another way, as you say, creates more energy flow in the eyes, in the brain. It’s so exciting to see these shifts immediately when you challenge a person’s vision.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. That’s awesome, I love it. That’s more relevant to macular degeneration, is that correct? Or is that kind of stuff also relevant to cataracts? How does that, the stuff you just described fit into some of the big three conditions?
Dr. Sam Berne: Well, the three anatomical parts, the macula, the lens of the eye, and the cornea, are what we call avascular tissue, which means there’s no blood supply that runs through those areas. They rely on it indirectly. It’s a vulnerable area where the metabolism shuts down and when the metabolism shuts down, it basically deadens the tissue. Cataracts is an opacity, it forms over on the lens, it’s dead tissue. The macula, the same thing. You’re not getting the proper carotenoids, lutein and zeaxanthin, to protect the eyes from macular damage. I would say with cataracts it’s glutathione, that’s one of the main ingredients.
Dr. Sam Berne: Then, in terms of the cornea, with all the digital devices and also the sympathetic nervous system overworking, and stress, metabolic imbalances, this creates a drying out of the cornea and imbalance in the tears. In all of these things, it’s the same thing. If you stress the vision differently, it actually creates more energy flow. I use light therapy also. We can talk about how I use color and light to stress the system. I have a very interesting story about how to use light and color.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, I definitely want to talk a lot about light with you. That’s one of my big areas. First, what about glaucoma? Does that fit into this picture as well?
Dr. Sam Berne: In terms of glaucoma, that’s based on a circulation problem in the drainage canals in the eyes. Basically, what happens is the optic nerve shuts down its flow and it creates visual field loss. I call it the silent thief. Glaucoma is actually a circulation problem in the canals of the eyes, so when you use eyedrops, that actually doesn’t do very much. The other thing is, doing laser surgery, which actually creates a lot of scar tissue. The idea is, how can you increase the peripheral vision, the energy flow of the canals in the eyes? Again, there’s so many different ways to do that. I would also add, is that I really like using phytochemicals. I love food healing and these are really important tenets that I believe are helpful in changing the way the eyes are functioning.
The best foods for eye health
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Let’s dig more into the phytochemicals thing. That’s another big area of passion of mine and that I’m excited to talk to you about. You mentioned briefly lutein and zeaxanthin.
Dr. Sam Berne: In terms of-
Ari Whitten: What are some of the other big protective eye nutrients and where do people get these foods?
Dr. Sam Berne: Well, I’m a big believer in getting our foods from plant-based sources. The things we throw out like the seeds, and the rind, and the skin, those are the things I’m putting in my Vitamix. The phytochemicals have incredible antioxidants that we can absorb in the body. For example, I put my avocado seed in my Vitamix. There’s a lot of cardiovascular improvement when you use something like that. I’m looking for the rainbow diet, I’m looking for the colorful vegetables, glutathione. One of the things that’s really important is MSM and I actually have MSM eyedrops that I use for dry eyes.
This is a sulfur-based eye drop. Glutathione needs sulfur and so it actually enhances the penetration of anything that you’re putting in our body by using these MSM eye drops. It’s plant-based, it’s carotenoids, bioflavonoids. I’d much rather go for food healing. I am shocked and appalled when I go even into Whole Foods, all the processed food that’s there and I really try to counsel my patients, “Eat better food.” It’s in the foods.
Ari Whitten: Are there a few specific foods that you found are particularly, especially beneficial?
Dr. Sam Berne: Well, I’ll go through my short list. Beets, orange bell peppers, asparagus, avocados. I like Cordycep mushrooms, so those are a few of … Kale, the spinach, the Brussels sprouts. Again, the green leafy vegetables, anything that’s alive, that’s colorful can really help our eyes and our brain and our body, so that’s-
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. Have you found any research on astaxanthin as it pertains to eye health?
Dr. Sam Berne: Astaxanthin is one of my power houses. If you eat wild caught salmon, it’s got that color in it, that’s astaxanthin. Yeah, it’s a super food. It’s one of my go-tos for macular health, for reversing cataracts. Yeah, I love astaxanthin. Absolutely.
Ari Whitten: Cool. Now, what about antioxidant supplements? How do you feel about people taking high doses of vitamin C, E, A, stuff like that in supplement form as opposed to getting it from food?
Dr. Sam Berne: I think it’s a challenge point, because in my practice I’ll have people come in and they’ll be bringing in shopping bags full of vitamins and minerals. I do kinesiology, and I’m measuring energy compatibility, and I really try to move people away from all of these antioxidants.
It actually stresses the liver more, and in Chinese medicine, the liver rules the eyes. I have people with floaters, this is another condition. Floaters is basically the jelly-like part of the eye begins to shrink and it pulls away from the retina. This is a place where the gel actually becomes solidified that creates these sparkles and flecks that come into the floater area. People that take these really high potency antioxidants, a lot of times the floaters get worse.
Again, the idea is, can we move them more over to live foods, plant-based, smoothies, you know what I’m talking about. I’m mixed about it. If you look at the ARED Study, this was a study, age-related macular degeneration. National Eye Institute did this study in 2001. They’re saying take C, E, beta carotene, and it reduces your risk of macular degeneration by 25%. It’s confusing out there for people, because they’re like, “Oh, I’ll just go take this OcuHealth vitamin,” and it’s got fillers in it, and other toxicities. If you can eat live food, that’s my number one go-to.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. One more point I’ll add on that, the antioxidant things, is that I think there’s definitely some positive research for certain specific conditions, but it needs to be balanced with, I think, the full body of evidence on how do those same supplements impact other conditions? How does it impact overall longevity? There’s quite a bit of research showing that it does not enhance longevity, and may actually shorten lifespan, and that it may actually increase risk of certain types of cancers, and things like that. My personal opinion is, it has to be a little bit … You just have to weigh the overall pros and cons. Maybe a certain supplement is found to benefit this condition but make this other condition worse.
Dr. Sam Berne: There’s a research study that … A Facebook video I did. What it showed was, that people that eat 16 to 20 different varieties of food had a 42% lower risk of dying soon. It’s like more longevity. People that eat zero to six different types of food had much lower longevity, so I’m really pushing a wide variety of food.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Dr. Sam Berne: Yes, there are certain supplements that you can add a little bit, but you know what? You got to get it through the foods. You can’t just take pills. It’s not going to work.
How your eyes and brain are connected
Ari Whitten: 100%, yeah. I’m glad that you’re saying that, because that’s very much aligned with what I preach to people. One thing I want to go back to that you briefly touched on before that I think is really, really important is neurogenesis. This idea of being able to support the growth, the creation of brain neurons. Why is that so important and what’s the relationship of that to eye health?
Dr. Sam Berne: Well, as I said earlier, that the eyes originate from brain tissue, so every tissue of the eye is brain, but the new research out there says that there are different ways that you can regenerate the retina. They’re called retinal ganglion cells, so they’re doing stem cell therapy. They’re regenerating the RGC, the retinal ganglion cells. Certainly, actually, animals like zebra fish are already doing that, so you’re regenerating the retina. Then there’s the BDNF, the brain-derived neurotrophic factor, and studies with the brain say that when you increase BDNF, you actually grow the hippocampus of the brain. There was a study that came out about the optic nerve, where they crushed the optic nerve, and they started giving BDNF, and within a week the optic nerve increased by 17%, and in two weeks it increased by 50%. This BDNF is getting a lot of play.
Well, what can you do to increase BDNF? Aerobic exercise every day, better sleep, make sure you’re getting enough trace minerals, magnesium, and zinc. Getting more sunlight every day. There’s all these different basic things that you can do to increase BDNF and you can regenerate the eyes. This is where people, they come to see me, I get so many emails from people, “I was diagnosed with this condition. I’m going to go blind. There’s nothing to do.” I say, “Wait a minute. There are all these different things you can do to regenerate your eyes,” and they do that, within a couple months, they have their eyesight back.
They disproved the doctor that says, “You’re just going to go blind.” I think eye doctors, we’re so limited in our indoctrination, and it’s controversial. Hey, I’m the first one to tell you that, but I’ve had 30 years of clinical research. I’ve done other research. My patients are getting better without using drugs and surgery. It’s a fact. Folks, let’s get on the track. It’s working.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. This makes sense, I mean, from the perspective of looking at things like cataracts, or macular degeneration, as this … I mean, it’s more complex than this, but you can look at it from the perspective of a deficiency in mitochondrial energy production in those areas, and I guess a deficiency of resilience maybe from lack of protective phytochemicals, luteins, zeaxanthin, astaxanthin, things like that, that make those tissues more susceptible to damage, more fragile, and more likely to accumulate damaged cells, and basically lead to that kind of progressive degeneration. Logically, we also know that, well, if you start using those protective phytochemicals, if you start using strategies that support energy production and mitochondrial health, well, maybe you can stop progression, maybe you can even reverse the condition.
How digital devices are killing your vision
Dr. Sam Berne: Yeah. I would add one more piece to that, and that is how you use your eyes, how you bring your eyes to the task that you’re doing. Again, what we’re doing with our eyes with just digital device, I read a statistic, four billion people are on digital devices. We’re in a visual confinement situation. When you make the same repetitive movement over and over again, it’s going to shut down the mitochondria. I take a look at where a person’s visual function is. For example, people that are using progressive bifocals, basically you’re focusing through a tiny hole when you’re using the computer.
Do you know how much stress that puts on your macula? That’s why people are developing macular degeneration because they’re focusing through a hole that their doctor prescribes these progressive invisible bifocals. What you need to do is you need to open your vision up to peripheral vision. That’s 99% of the retinal real estate that’s not being used, or if you’re using a prescription that’s based on distance and you’re using it for the computer, or reading, that’s going to trash your eyes, that’s going to bring your eyes into real deterioration. By doing the exercises and stressing the eyes to open up, and the phytochemicals that you’re talking about, now you have the formula. I think you need both of them. In doing that, then people can regenerate and create new pathways.
If nothing else, it gives them the mindset that, “Oh, there’s another way to work with it. That’s not even mentioned in eye care offices. It’s one thing. You’re going to go blind, that’s it. Nutrition doesn’t help. Nothing’s going to work except pharmaceuticals and surgery. The more surgeries you do, the more it opens up to secondary conditions like cataracts, macular degeneration, and so on. One more piece if I can just say it, from the digital devices the damaging blue light, it suppresses our melatonin. It also can cause macular damage. There you go, that’s another protective mechanism, blue blocking lenses are really important for people. They don’t know that.
How light affects your body and eye health
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Yes and thank you for bringing that up. I definitely want to dig into the light stuff, but as you were speaking, something just kind of popped into my head. It’s almost like the eyes are like a microcosm of kind of the bigger picture of our entire body. It’s like we obviously have to put in good food and good nutrition to our bodies. If you don’t, then you start to get various metabolic diseases. You accumulate body fat, insulin resistance, various other … All kinds of diseases that relate to poor nutrition. You got to take your body to the gym and do some exercise, move your muscles, and you need to not sit down all day, and only kind of be in one particular repetitive movement pattern. Otherwise, you start to get back pain, and neck pain, and things like that.
It’s almost like all of those same things are occurring in this microcosm of the eyes. You’re saying obviously you have to put in the right nutrition to the eyes. You have to give them the right nutrients to function well. You got to take them to the gym. Meaning, you have to do certain exercises with your eyes to stimulate them in the right way and you have to not be, what I would say, is the equivalent of being sedentary and sitting in a chair all day, which is what you’re talking about, kind of looking at a screen all the time, your eyes are in this very limited sort of movement pattern. I mean, that’s … Anyway, does that resonate with you? That’s kind of how I’m seeing things.
Dr. Sam Berne: Yeah, that’s how it is. The thing is, our eyes are so unconscious. We’re not even aware of that there’s sensation in here. When you go to the eye doctor and you’re sitting in the dark room and the doctor’s flipping lenses, “Which is clearer, one or two?” Let’s say you’re having a bad day, and you choose number two, and you get the lens. When you put it in, you go, “Man, this is making me so dizzy. I’m nauseous.” The doctor says, “Hey, don’t worry. You’ll get used to it.” “No, thank you. I don’t want to get used to funneling my life through this filter that you’re giving me that’s making me nauseous.”
I’ll say one more thing, when you look into the retina, you’re actually looking at the brain, you’re looking at the systemic health. You can pick up things like diabetes, hypertension, even Alzheimer’s now. There’s a retinal scan that you could do to pick up that Alzheimer’s … The fatty deposits. The eyes are kind of ahead of what’s going on systemically and metabolically. It’s a holographic window that you can look into to see, “This is what’s going on systemically and metabolically,” and then you can treat it that way. It’s not just an isolated system that’s separate from the body. That’s what I learned in [crosstalk]-
Ari Whitten: It’s interesting. It’s like, because the eyes are … Or certain parts of the eyes are avascular tissues and more susceptible to damage. It’s almost like the Canary in the Coal Mine in a way, like it’s the first place to start to get damage.
Dr. Sam Berne: Right, exactly. That’s why when you do a retinal exam, you can pick up things. When I do, when I see diabetic retinopathy is say, “Okay, let’s look at the insulin level. Let’s look at what you’re eating. Let’s look at your obesity. Let’s look at your … ” Another thing that’s a buzzword now is nitric oxide. I don’t know if you’ve ever looked at that. In terms of the eyes, when you start adding nitric oxide, it actually can reduce glaucoma. It can reduce inflammation in the eyes. It can reduce dry eye. What are ways that you can get nitric oxide? One way is getting UV light into the eye, that’s one way to increase [inaudible]. [inaudible] is to increase nitric oxide, I’d love to hear that, but it’s really important for retinal health.
Ari Whitten: Now we’re in controversial territory, because they’re so many … I mean, this is something that comes up a lot for me and the people that I work with, the members of the Energy Blueprint Program, is often times I’ll get questions from people who have cataracts, or macular degeneration, and here I am, I’m telling people, “Work on your circadian rhythm habits, morning light exposure being a very important one of those habits. Get outdoors, get natural light.”
Then there’s this conflict because a lot of these people are being told by their eye doctors, “Hey, avoid sun exposure, avoid UV light, the bright light from the sun is harming your eyes.” I always, as with everything, whenever somebody has any sort of medical condition, I always say, “Well, you have to listen to your doctor’s advice. I’m just here to present the science of how this particular habit pertains to health more broadly, but I’m not prescribing it to treat a particular medical condition.” What’s your take on this whole light thing? Should people be getting sunlight in their eyes in the morning?
Dr. Sam Berne: Absolutely. We are heliotropic beings, we go towards the light. Light is a food. When it enters the eyes, it activates the photoreceptors and sends impulses back to the brain, that’s how we see. There’s actually about 25% of the light that enters the eyes goes through this pathway that activates the hypothalamus, and the pineal, and the pituitary.
We need light to see and it’s very important for our health. It balances our endocrine system and our nervous system. Now, in terms of what you’re saying about getting natural sunlight, we need ultraviolet light. Now, there have been studies out there that actually show that if you don’t get enough UV light, now you got to substitute, or you’ve got to supplement with vitamin D. Isn’t that interesting that industry now is like, “Okay, no to all UV, but now go buy vitamin D?”
Ari Whitten: Right.
Dr. Sam Berne: It makes no sense to me-
Ari Whitten: Yeah, and this is a big pet peeve of mine as well, because so many people are now of the mindset that the benefits of sunlight can be reduced down to just vitamin D, and people don’t realize that they’re so many other mechanisms and pathways that the sun is effecting us beyond just how it effects vitamin D levels. One of the things you just talked about is how UV light directly in the eyes is effecting nitric oxide levels.
Dr. Sam Berne: That’s right. Cardiovascular health, the immune system. I mean, we could go through the list of all the benefits. The idea is, moderation. I think, I live in the desert southwest, when I’m skiing up in Taos, which I did the other day, I was wearing my polarized sunglasses. I’m up at 12,000 feet hiking up there on my skis, so that’s cool, or when I go to Hawaii and I lead dolphin swims and I’m on the ocean, I’ll wear my sunglasses. But, we need light to balance our mood, our pineal gland, our circadian rhythm. You know what’s really interesting? When I work with light therapy, I give people the colors that they don’t like.
There’s a color machine I use, and the colors they don’t like actually opens up their vision, and opens up their health, so it’s another way to challenge their eyes and their body by giving them the colors that they don’t like. It’s really-
Ari Whitten: Tell me more about … How does that work?
Dr. Sam Berne: Okay, so how that works is that … If we go back to the Egyptians, the Romans, the Greeks, the Native Americans, the Mayans, they were using light therapy to heal the body. In my field, there’s actually a way that you can put different frequencies of colors into the retina that stimulate the photoreceptors that had become desensitized to light. In fact, certain colors will reflect toxicities, dental problems toxicities. If you’re sensitive to green, for example, you may have certain toxicities in your body. It picks that up.
When I give people different frequencies of colors, I call it the rainbow method, and we look at red for two minutes, and orange, and yellow. They might say, “Oh, I hate red. I don’t want to look at red.” I’ll say, “No, let’s stay with it, because what that’s going to do is that’s going to open up your retina and your vision,” and that’s what happens. A lot of times they will look at the colors they don’t like and afterwards they can read 20/20 on the eye chart.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Dr. Sam Berne: It challenges them. We’re not just going to use the colors you like and you’re comfortable with, we’re going to give you the colors you don’t like. That creates more balance, more versatility, more neurogenesis. The mitochondria get activated. It’s very potent to use light therapy on the eyes. I mean, it changes lots of things besides eyesight.
Ari Whitten: Fascinating. Is there a way for people to use that in any way by themselves, or do they have to go to a clinic-
Dr. Sam Berne: Yeah.
Ari Whitten: And see an expert to do that sort of thing?
Dr. Sam Berne: There are ways that you can actually go out and get color lenses. They’re different companies that sell it. I use these colored gels that I have made up, they’re just masks. There’s a way that you actually look through each color for maybe 30 seconds, and then you take a break, and then you do palming, so you’re resting the eyes, and then you go onto the next color orange, and then yellow. It’s very easily directed. I even have people do it with an eye patch, so they’ll do it with each eye separately, or they’ll even do it with the reverse glasses, so now they have blur and the color therapy. Talk about challenging their current status quo.
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Dr. Sam Berne: Again, at the very end, it just creates more energy flow in the eyes. Duh, it’s going to work really well in restoring your vision. Yeah, it really-
Why eating the right nutrition (foods for eye health) is essential for a good eyesight
Ari Whitten: Now, I’m curious, on this subject of kind of [CoreMedic] challenges to the system, to the eyes, do you find that maybe people who are not eating a good diet and who are not putting good nutrients into their body, or who are otherwise just very sick and very ill, if they’re challenged using some of these therapies, do they get worse at all? Do they react negatively to it sometimes if their bodies just don’t have the resilience to handle it?
Dr. Sam Berne: A big population I work with is the chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein–Barr. With those people, as you know, they’re so fragile. Where I can take them initially, of course, is not going to be as far as say somebody like you, or your clients who are robust, and they’re going for it, and human potential. I just have to meet them where they are, but I’m still pushing them. The thing is, is that when you have chronic fatigue syndrome in terms of the eyes, you cannot correct for blurred vision, because your vision is so all over the place. You’ve got dry eye syndrome. You’ve got, you can’t focus. I have to work with them in a different timezone, so to speak. Yes, it’s the same ideas. I got to push them into a bigger comfort zone. It’s just not going to be the same way that I would push you-
Ari Whitten: You just go a little smaller doses, a little slower in a progression.
Dr. Sam Berne: Rest period in between. As they get better at digesting the visual experiences, then I can ratchet it up. Yeah, I have to meet them where they are and the same with kids. I work with a lot of autistic kids and it’s the same thing. Actually, with those kids, I was working with a kid the other day. He couldn’t jump rope. I mean, he took his shirt off. He’s this wild kid, autistic. I gave him these special glasses that ground him into his body and the therapist watched him, he started jump rope. She’s like, “Oh my goodness, I can’t believe it.” Just by shifting him into his body more with these prisms, he was able to jump rope. If that’s how immediate it is when you put a person into a different part of their visual system-
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Dr. Sam Berne: I mean, it really changes everything. Yeah.
Ari Whitten: Amazing.
Dr. Sam Berne: Well, you think about [inaudible] such as dominant way we relate to the world, and yet, we take it for granted. Ari, my mission is, hey, let’s not forget this. They’re all these other therapies out there in your work and other people. Nobody’s talking about the eyes.
Ari Whitten: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely. I want to dig a little more into light. We’ve talked about the fact that people shouldn’t be … Just have this blanket sort of avoidance of the sun and belief that sunlight is harmful to their eyes. I’m curious what you think about the role of artificial light from screens, as well as indoor fluorescent lighting, in relationship to things like cataracts and macular degeneration. Kind of the concept of mal-illumination.
Why you need to protect yourself from the light emitted by screens
Dr. Sam Berne: Yeah. If you and I were sitting all day in an office, in artificial foods, it would be like if we went down the street and we went and ate McDonald’s. It’s so suppressing your immune system and your natural energy flow. The idea that mal-illumination, malnutrition, we need to get at least 60 minutes of natural light every day. Notice how you feel when you go outside after working on the computer, and you’re in the sunlight in San Diego, and you go, “Ah.” You take a deep breath. It’s like, that’s what your nervous system needs. This idea of artificial light, actually you get more dental problems, more hyperactivity. I mean, the research is solid in terms of the light diet.
If you want to protect your eyes for part of the day to use a sun lens, well, then get a really good polarized neutral grade lens, you can do that, but I want you to get 30 to 60 minutes of sunlight every day. You can do it before 10am, or after 5pm. If you want to wear a hat, that’s fine too, but you must get natural light. There’s too much fear out there that’s pumped into us being afraid of the sun. Hey, we are made of the sun. We are made of photons. Autoimmune, that’s what you’re basically teaching people to do. So many benefits from sunlight. Then in terms of the screens, the blue light, you probably know all this, about how it’s not good for your eyes and vision. You need to protect yourself and you need to take care about the blue light from the digital devices.
Ari Whitten: Well, let’s dig into that a little bit more, because when we get natural light outdoors during the day, we’re also getting blue light, but when we’re getting it from screens, are we getting it in a different spectrum, or is blue light from artificial light, from manmade electronic devices from screens, is that different in some profound way from the outdoor natural light, the blue light that we would get from that?
Dr. Sam Berne: Yeah, it’s very different, because when we’re outside, we’re actually getting more of the frequencies. Actually, the blue light actually increases as the sun starts to set. On a digital device, basically you’re getting this flickering coming at you all the time. It’s a very narrow band of blue light and it’s going to damage the macula over time. Again, if your phytonutrients aren’t there, if you’re toxic, if you’re mitochondria aren’t working, or another thing that’s happening now is that people that do get cataract surgery …
What conventional optometrists aren’t telling you about the stuff they use to repair your eyes
See, our lens, our original hardware of lens has a pigment that blocks the blue light, but when you get a cataract interocular lens put in, it doesn’t have that protection and the doctor doesn’t tell you that. Then, in a year you start developing macular degeneration and you weren’t told that you don’t have the blue blocker in your natural lens, or to even get blue blocking lenses. All these people now who’ve had cataract surgery are now getting macular degeneration.
Ari Whitten: Wow.
Dr. Sam Berne: I think we need to know what our doctor’s putting in our body. Plastic lens, the same thing. I don’t want plastic in my body, do you? These are things that, again, you can be proactive. See, what I see about eye doctors in general is that we are reactive. You go into the doctor, “Here’s the drug, here’s the steroid,” whatever. My approach is, “Now, let’s be proactive. Let’s educate you. Let’s take you far from your status quo, and boom, you’ve got your vision back at any age, even as you get older.” We can’t blame it on age, no way.
Why blue blockers matter for eye health
Ari Whitten: A few more questions on that subject. Should people be wearing certain … They’re not the same blue blockers that people wear at night before bed that I wear at night before bed, but they make certain blue blockers that block a certain band of wavelengths within the blue spectrum for people to use while working on their computer and things like that. Are you a fan of those or not?
Dr. Sam Berne: That’s a really great question and I did a lot of research on blue blocking lenses, and what I came up with is that during the day you can wear that very light blue blocking lens, so you can still get some light into your eyes. Then after 6:00 or 7:00, we probably have a similar thing, I have a much darker blue blocker lens, so if I’m working on the computer later, then it’s blocking out more of the light. I have a rule that you want to stop working on that digital device at least an hour before you go to sleep, because you may notice if you’re working on that digital device until bed, you’re not going to sleep as well. They’re different gradients that you can get that block out different wavelengths and bandwidths based on what time of day you’re using the computer, or whatever. That’s been my approach and-
Ari Whitten: Now-
Dr. Sam Berne: The feedback I’ve been getting is really good from people.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Now, one other thing on that. You mentioned briefly the flicker from screens. I actually have a fancy computer screen that I’m looking at right now and it’s one that I bought for a few reasons. One, it’s really big, which I like to have a million windows open at once when I’m doing work, so I needed something that was a big screen. But, the things that are special about this are that it’s flicker-free technology. I don’t know if you are familiar with that, but there’s a few companies that make this flicker-free technology.
It also has low blue light settings on it, so the screen itself will … Without me having to wear glasses, will eliminate 70% of the blue light emission from the screen. It’s awesome, I love it. What’s your take on that? Also, can you talk a bit about the flicker thing? Because I think, for me, it’s definitely something that I think hinders people’s energy levels without them realizing it, when they’re looking at screens that flicker. Can you talk about it from the perspective of eye health in particular?
The 20/20/20 rule
Dr. Sam Berne: Basically, a lot of people are getting into a situation where they’re not using their eyes together, and their eyes actually travel at different speed in terms of processing information. They’ve got this builtin flicker going on and then they’re trying to interface it with the computers refresh rate, and it creates light sensitivity, headaches, fatigue. It’s a real energy drain. Also, if they’re wearing those tiny hole progressive lenses, or the wrong prescription, then that makes it even more tenuous in terms of their own flickering, versus the computer’s flickering.
Then of course, if their nutrients are not … They’re not absorbing them, or they have inflammation, or whatever, that’s going to create all kinds of problems. I think what you have is really, really good. The thing that I would add is something called the 20/20/20 rule. [inaudible] you’ve heard of this. Every 20 minutes you look out at 20 feet and you do that 20 seconds. That little reminder of 20/20/20 really helps sustain people’s resiliency in being able to stay on the computer all day. Yeah, be aware of that flicker rate, because it drains you. Then you’ve got the MF issue and all that. Yeah, so I think it’s a big issue that people need to be aware of.
Ari Whitten: Definitely. On that subject, one of the other questions I was going to ask you was about myopia and just this issue, which is related to a lot of the stuff you’ve talked about so far. Myopia is this growing epidemic from people looking at screens too much.
Dr. Sam Berne: Yes.
Ari Whitten: The best way to combat it is this sort of 20/20/20 rule?
What to do to improve your eyesight naturally
Dr. Sam Berne: Well, that’s one thing to do. Another thing would be to go to your eye doctor and negotiate with him or her. This is really out there, but say, “Hey doctor, you’re giving me a 20/20 prescription, can you give me a 20/40 prescription?” Something slightly less. That actually opens your vision more to wear something less. Another thing to do is you could start wearing reverse prescription glasses in your bedroom for like a minute and that actually helps reduce the myopia, because now you’re wearing a positive lens that puts you into a lot of blur. That freaks people out. Because if you think about, “What’s your belief system on blur?” I don’t like it. I’m out of control. It makes me tense. The idea is surrendering into the blur, it actually allows the eye muscles to relax. When you take them off, you’re going to have less myopia. If you do that 30 … I give you the 30 day challenge. Do that for 30 days, your prescriptions going to drop at least 10%
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Maybe also get outdoors and go walk around outside instead of staring at a screen all day also.
Dr. Sam Berne: Aerobic exercise, get out and hike. I live near the National Forest, so I’m hiking every day to balance out my computer use. Oh yeah, I mean, you got to get outside and connect with nature. It’s so important. It slows you down, it’s great for you.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. One more light related question, and you mentioned this briefly about blue blockers at night, and the role of melatonin. When people … How does melatonin relate specifically to eye health? I know that throughout the … I haven’t looked at the relationship specifically to eye health, but I certainly know that melatonin acts as an antioxidant and as a protector of mitochondria throughout the body. It only makes sense that if you are chronically suppressing melatonin levels when your body should be producing them, that eventually your mitochondria throughout your body and I would imagine also your eyes, become more susceptible to damage. Is that accurate?
Dr. Sam Berne: Yes. There’s actually a photoreceptor in the retina that they just discovered that activates melatonin, which is really interesting. We need to be in the dark as well as the light, of course, because that helps activate, but there’s a really strong connection between our retina health, melatonin production, mitochondria production, circadian rhythm. I mean, it’s all related. When I hear you talk about it, it’s like, yeah I’m just talking about it through the eyes. You’re talking about it from another perspective, but we’re talking the same thing. It’s coming from the same place-
Ari Whitten: Yeah.
Dr. Sam Berne: In [inaudible]. Yeah, it’s obvious.
Ari Whitten: Yeah. Beautiful. How do we … We’ve talked about a lot of different things. I’d love if you could kind of give people a sort of recap and an overview of how all these different pieces fit together in sort of a treatment program, or like a daily regimen, of how someone might go about either fixing existing cataracts, or macular degeneration, or at least maybe stopping the progression, or just people who are interested in protecting their eye health, and not getting eye diseases.
Dr. Sam Berne: Okay.
Ari Whitten: We’ve talked about kind of the physical therapy, some of the nutrients, the color therapy, and various things like that. Kind of paint a picture for me of what all of this looks like.
Dr. Sam Berne: All right. What I would say to somebody out there listening to this podcast, I would break it down into three main points. Number one, do something different than your normal routine with your eyes. It could be take your glasses or contacts off for part of the day in a non-demanding, nonthreatening situation. I would build in eye relaxation exercises like palming, or sunning, or eye massage. These are free exercises on my website, videos that I’ve created. I would say be aware of your phytonutrients. Some key ones would be the glutathione, the lutein and zeaxanthin, making sure you’re eating a lot of plant-based foods, and the rainbow diet if that’s all you can remember in terms of plants, fruits, and vegetables.
Then finally, take a break from the computer. That 20/20/20 rule would be something you want to build into your daily routine. Those would be some simple things. If you go to my Facebook page, I probably have almost 100 videos that are free. If you’ve got a certain condition, click on that for two minutes. You’re going to get a soundbite on, “This is what you need to do, A, B, C, D.” I want to give a lot of free information to people and so if they click into my resource, they’re going to get a lot of great stuff, and then you can start coming into my community, and it’s going to be very much paralleling what you do, and there it is. You just have a lot of support.
Ari Whitten: Beautiful. You also sell certain supplements. I know you sell the MSM eye drops for people with floaters, and those are very effective for floaters, and you have some other stuff you sell. Do you also sell any programs where … Kind of that covers how to do all the eye exercises, or where should people go to find out more about that?
Dr. Sam Berne: If you go to my website, drsamberne.com, and you can actually type in, in the magnifier up in the right corner, “Macular pucker.” That’s a big one, or, “Floaters, or cataracts.” I have free kits, like a cataract program, a macular degeneration 90-day eye exercise program, and it’s free, you just download it. Yeah, if you go to my website, we have such incredible things. My team has done such a great job in organizing it. Yeah, go there. It’s free, you get all this information. Start working on reducing your cataracts, your macular degeneration, your glaucoma, get rid of your myopia. I mean, there’s all kinds of ways that you can help your eyes and-
Ari Whitten: Beautiful.
Dr. Sam Berne: Yeah.
Ari Whitten: What we’ll do on our end, we’ll make a link … This podcast is going to be at the energyblueprint.com/eye-health. The energyblueprint.com/eye-health, but with a little dash or hyphen between eye and health. Then we’ll put links to all of those different pages, so for various conditions we’ll link over to your site and just have it all kind of be there as well. Dr. Berne, thank you so much. This has been an absolute pleasure to have this discussion with you and I’ve had so many burning questions on my mind. To be honest, I really wanted to talk to an optometrist who also has some knowledge of nutrition, and lifestyle, and the importance of light, and doesn’t just think, “The sun is bad and everybody should avoid the sun,” but actually has looked into the research on that. It’s absolutely a pleasure to do this and thank you so much for sharing your wisdom with my audience.
Dr. Sam Berne: Next time I’m in San Diego I’m taking you out to Peace Pies.
Ari Whitten: Oh, definitely, would love that. Yeah, that’s one of my favorite restaurants, so thank you so much and yeah, take care and hopefully we can do another podcast at some point.
Dr. Sam Berne: Yeah, great. Okay, Ari. Be well.
Ari Whitten: All right, take care.
How To Improve Eye Health naturally │ 4 Natural Eye Care Tips to Treat Common Eye Problems with Dr. Sam Berne – Show Notes
How the medical industry often ruins your eyesight rather than healing it (3:06)
The most common eye problems (4:49)
How to use hormesis to improve eye health (6:29)
The best foods for eye health (10:48)
How your eyes and brain are connected (16:42)
How digital devices are killing your vision (20:14)
How light affects your body and eye health (22:22)
Why eating the right nutrition (foods for eye health) is essential for a good eyesight (32:14)
Why you need to protect yourself from the light emitted by screens (35:24)
What conventional optometrists aren’t telling you about the stuf they use to repair your eyes (38:14)
Why blue blockers matter for eye health (39:26)
The 20/20/20 rule (41:55)
What to do to improve your eyesight naturally (43:38)
To learn more about the work Dr. Berne does, go visit his site drsamberne.com