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🎧 NEW PODCAST: Vision therapy with holistic optometrist, Dr. Marc Grossman

by Sophia Ruan Gushée

 

Podcast composer: Chris Robertson

 

Bonus Resources

Click here to download Dr. Grossman's free holistic eye health resources for Cataracts, Dry Eyes, Floaters, Glaucoma, Macula Degeneration & his Eye Exercise eBook. 

Often, it's never too late to improve your eyes!

Have you ever heard that your eye health—like your vision—does not necessarily have to deteriorate with age? And that some eye issues can sometimes even be reversed? 

I had not. Until I recorded this podcast with Dr. Marc Grossman, a leading holistic optometrist, founder of NaturalEyeCare.com (the largest consumer eye care resource of its kind), and a respected author of 5 books. Most recently, Dr. Grossman co-authored the acclaimed Natural Eye Care, Your Guide To Healthy Eyes and Healing.

Listen to how one patient described her experience, which I will abbreviate slightly:

I am 82 years old and have been seeing Dr. Marc Grossman for 15 years. Having had success with other alternative medical professionals, I searched for a holistic eye doctor. I had no serious issues but wondered if there were methods to support me in keeping my eyes healthy. At that time my eyesight was 20/40 and I had minor cataracts. Through the use of homeopathic [remedies], I am delighted that, over years, my vision has improved to 20/25 in both eyes, along with decreased density of cataracts!  I only wear glasses sometimes for reading and working on the computer. I am so grateful.

This experience shows me that with effective care I can progress, not decline, even at my age. Maintaining my good eyesight, even improving it, has given me a sense of opportunity and creative expansion to live every day fully and to look ahead with optimism!

Jane W.

Dr. Marc Grossman, leading holistic optometrist

Dr Grossman also experienced serious vision issues. He was legally blind from 3rd grade. But, at the time of our podcast recording last year in September 2019, his eye health had improved so much that he didn't need to use his glasses for about 90% of his waking life. He was 64 years old.

Dr. Grossman's perspective on vision and eye health is fascinating to me because I had to start wearing glasses when I was in 4th grade. And every time I went back to the eye doctor, which was at least once a year, I heard more bad news: I needed a stronger prescription for my near-sightedness.

Genetics is generally less than 20% of your eye health outcome

My vision deteriorated so dramatically that my left eye became legally blind by the time I was in college, and my right eye was almost legally blind.

Both my father and grandfather had really poor eye health—like poor vision, cataracts, and glaucoma. Growing up, I often heard, Poor You. You have the bad genetics of your father and grandfather for serious near-sightedness. So I felt resigned to a destiny of lifelong eye problems. 

Dr. Grossman, however, doesn't believe that are genetics determine our destiny. He estimates that genetics contribute to less than 20% of the perfect storm of factors that lead to eye issues. For example, he and I talk about how our technology use can strain our eye health. Dr. Grossman explains that In many third-world countries, the incidence of near-sightedness is less than 10%. But it's over 70-80% in high-tech countries.

Collectively, we spend billions of dollars for eyeglasses, contact lenses, and surgery on our eyes. But Dr. Grossman has experienced great success in treating his patients—over the past 40 years—with a more holistic and diverse approach so that there's less need for, or dependence on, corrective lenses and surgery.

Your eyes can experience resiliency

In this podcast, Dr. Grossman shares the strategies that we can adopt for our eyes to enjoy more resiliency—or, as he'll explain later, flexibility and adaptability. I now have hope that my eyes don't necessarily have to decline with age, and that they could get better if I take care of them more holistically. 

After recording this podcast, I have forever changed how I consider my eyes. I love that I now think of my eyes as an extension of my brain and my well-being. 

This conversation is a wonderful reminder that it's never too late to improve the quality of not even just your eyes—but also your life! That's because Dr. Grossman's approach to eye care is also good for your body, mind, and soul. You’ll hear Dr. Grossman explain that, “We don’t see with our eyes, we see with our mind. If we can change our mind, we can change our eyes.” And he explains how our eyes and brain are connected to the rest of our body. He's full of really interesting perspectives!

Dr. Marc Grossman is an international bestselling author, educator, and speaker

In addition to being a leading holistic optometrist, Dr. Grossman is also a New York State Licensed Acupuncturist, and a well-known speaker on vision-related topics. 

Dr. Grossman lectures nationally on topics such as Natural Vision Improvement, Psycho-Emotional Aspects of Visual Conditions, Vision & Learning, Holistic Integrative Visual Therapy, and Chinese Medicine and Vision Care. He also teaches workshops for health care professionals including physical therapists, chiropractors and body workers, social workers, occupational therapists and other optometrists. Dr. Grossman is a consultant to school systems, rehabilitation centers, and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. 

Dr. Grossman's background includes degrees in Optometry, Biology, Physical Education and Learning Disabilities, coupled with yoga, bioenergetics, nutrition, Chinese medicine and acupuncture, the Alexander Technique, and the Feldenkrais Method. His training provides the foundation for an integrated approach to vision and its influence on the body, mind and spirit of each patient. Dr. Grossman also founded the Rye Learning Center in 1980, a multidisciplinary center for learning problems. In 1996, he co-founded Integral Health Associates in New Paltz, New York.

Dr. Grossman has also authored or co-authored several books. In 1996, he co-created the book "Magic Eye: How to See 3D," which ignited a worldwide 3D craze for the rest of the 1990s. This led to a series of Magic Eye books, which would appear on the New York Times best-seller list for a combined 73 weeks. More than 20 million copies of Magic Eye books have been sold in more than 25 languages.

The company has cross-licensed with the Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros., Marvel Comics, and many others. Retail clients have ranged from the National Institutes of Health to the Grateful Dead. You'll hear more about these books later in the podcast. It sounds like book sales now exceed over 30 million copies!

Dr. Grossman’s latest co-created book is titled Natural Eye Care, Your Guide to Healthy Vision and Healing. Natural Eye Care is a landmark guide written to empower readers of every age to support and preserve healthy vision through the health of the whole body.

Natural Eye Care has been a trusted, comprehensive guide to healthy vision and healing since its first printing in 2007. Dr. Grossman's book Natural Eye Care includes in-depth holistic, dietary and lifestyle strategies and recommendations based on peer reviewed studies, and Dr. Grossman's 40 years of experience. It integrates various modalities for vision care, such as Traditional Chinese Medicine, Ayurveda, Yoga, Nutrition, Meditation, Essential Oils, Physical and Eye Exercises, and more. 

It has been revised to include new research findings, technical advances, deeper understanding of the causes of eye disease and what to do about them. This updated second edition was published in 2019.

If you're interested in natural eye care for you or loved ones, this is a must-have book that can teach you a new way to consider your eyes--and your life! 

Podcast composer: Chris Robertson

Bonus Resources

Click here to download Dr. Grossman's free holistic eye health resources for:

  • Cataracts
  • Dry Eyes
  • Floaters
  • Glaucoma
  • Macula Degeneration
  • Eye Exercise eBook

Podcast Notes

Guest Intro

[9:06] “Eyes are tools for the mind” -- Dr. Marc Grossman

  • “Eyes are windows to the soul” -- Shakespeare 
  • “We don’t see with our eyes, we see with our mind. If we can change our mind, we can change our eyes.”
  • Dr. Grossman became legally blind in 3rd grade
  • You can’t separate the eyes from the body
  • Not always genetic. Less than 10% of near-sightedness in many third world countries. Over 70-80% in high-tech companies, especially in Japan and China where children start on digital devices from as early as 3-4 years old.
  • 90% of accountants are near-sighted. Function affects structure.
  • 50lbs of rice on your back, your back chances
  • Due to neuroplasticity between eyes and brain, your eyes adapt to function.
  • Near-sighted: you can see near. Far-sighted: can see far.

[11:12] How did Dr. Grossman improve his vision? He rarely uses his glasses at 64 years old.

  • Can’t improve everyone’s eye sight. We don’t treat the eye, we treat the person behind the eye.
  • Treatment depends on underlying reasons for why the eye issues occur.
  • Your inner vision (your attitude and belief systems of what you want to see, what you can see, what you choose to see, our attitude) affects your outer vision.
    • Stress, trauma
    • Big correlation between when people move and eye issues—near-sightedness, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration—and life / emotional stresses
    • Your attitude, belief systems, what you want to see, what you choose to see
    • Everyone has different energy that comes out of your eyes

[15:00] Integrative medicine = Western Medicine (Traditional Optometry) + Traditional Chinese Medicine (including acupuncture)

[15:34] For Dr. Grossman, what happened in 3rd grade that led to the onset of his near-sightedness?

  • Just as our emotional and psychological stresses can disrupt our microbiome and immunity—showing up on our skin—Dr. Grossman says it can also show up in our eye health. This can result in vision changes, cataracts, glaucoma.

[18:20] Underlying cause for most near-sightedness, besides possible emotional component:

  • Prolonged, staring at things up close, like lots of reading digital devices, for an extended period; spending too much time on sustained near tasks
  • Not spending enough time outside
  • Not being under natural light
  • Not enough exercise
  • Eating the Standard American Diet (SAD): eating fast foods, processed foods, processed sugars, not eating natural foods

[19:20] Technology offers many benefits, but we need everything in moderation.

  • 20/20/20 rules: Take breaks after 20 minutes, look at 20 feet for at least 20 seconds
  • Go outside, do yoga, read
  • We need to take breaks and not be addicted to our cell phones, computers, everything

[19:48] Digital addiction

  • We're addicted to our digital devices
  • Addiction to video games (like in South Korea)
  • Digital detox retreats
  • The farther away the digital device when reading, the better
  • When we constrict our eyes, we constrict our body, our breathing

[21:34] How Dr. Grossman's improved his eyes 

  • Kept getting worse in school, where 90% of students at his high school were near-sighted
  • Vision therapy with exercise
  • Dance and movement
  • Diet, nutrition
  • Improved his vision from 2400 without glasses to now 20/30

[22:20] How long does it take to notice improvements?

  • Most improvements happen in the first month, the rest can take longer. It's like peeling away at an apple, works in layers.
  • But it depends on how they use their eyes. They can do some good exercises, but if they also abuse their eyes through sustained reading of digital screens up close, then that's not a good prognosis.

[23:14] Visual hygiene 

More on his website.

  • Take breaks
  • Flexibility and adaptability of eye muscles are key
  • Warm compresses
  • Take breaks
  • Live a balanced harmonious life
  • Essential oils
  • TCM
  • Acupuncture

[23:40] How our habits affect vision

  • We need to build the flexibility and adaptability of our eye muscles
  • Flexibility and adaptability is important

    • Magic Eye books: Beyond 3D and Improve Your Vision by Dr. Marc Grossman. Sold 30 million copies, was very popular in Korea and Japan. They help relax eye muscles, and get eyes and brain to work together to get them more flexible and adaptable
      • Magic Eye pictures
      • Looking at your finger rom 6 inches and to 20 feet
      • 2 breaths near, 2 breaths far; 2 breaths near, 2 breaths far
      • Changing your focus
      • Doing a figure 8 with your eyes
      • Lots of exercises on video for free on his website www.naturaleyecare.com and plenty of YouTube videos, Hot Dog exercises (look at fingers at eye level, then look across room; if eyes/brain are in relaxed state then you'll see an extra finger floating between your two fingers)
      • Looking out the window if you're working on the computer all day
      • Warm compresses on your eyes, on your body, is fantastic
    • Take breaks, have a balanced life. Balance and harmony is the goal!

[28:26] Visual hygiene

  • Palming exercise: put palms of your hands on your orbital rim, which touches acupuncture points
  • Usually 10 minutes a day at different times
  • Best food for your eyes? Kale, which has highest amount of lutein; and zeozanthin, blueberries, dark grapes
  • Different eye exercises as your daily practice
  • Believes supplements are helpful
  • Exercise at least 20 minutes a day, aerobic, yoga, eye exercises
    • Acu-pressure points to build circulation
    • Warm compresses on eyes is fantastic
    • Goal: Balance & harmony
    • Essential oils
      • Frankincense is anti-inflammatory (essential oils an inch from the eye)
      • Natural Eye Care has a whole chapter on essential oils

[32:00] How responsible is genetics for the outcomes of our eye health, generally?

  • Less than 20% genetics. You might have a genetic tendency for things to happen, but your lifestyle, way of being in the world, nutrition has a major impact. 
  • Studies in Alaska (on Eskimos) show that how we use our eyes affects our vision and eye health: Eskimos had low near-sightedness until they started going to school. Went up to 40% of near-sightedness; none of those people had a genetic tendency for it. You can lower risks of genetic disposition by non-genetic factors.
  • Genetics have a place but we can definitely help our eyes with diet, exercise, and other lifestyle factors.

[34:16] Eyes stop growing around 14 years old

  • Age of onset of when the condition occurs. Different type of cataract if onset is 50- rather than 80- years old
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine wonders why did you develop the condition in the left eye and not right eye? They look at the yin and the yang. Look at mother eye, father eye; you look at the energetics. Looking for underlying factors of why this might occur.
  • Worked with many cases to stabilize or reverse conditions

[35:55] Resiliency: ability of eye health to be resilient at any age

  • Neuroplasticity: Embryologically, neurologically, physically, the eye is brain tissue; it's an outgrowth of the brain
  • Norman Dodd, The Brain that Heals Itself
  • Multiple personality disorders have different prescriptions, they have different blood chemistries
  • Some 90 year olds can touch their toes and do yoga 
  • He believes you can improve your eyes at any age
  • Oldest patient passed at 106 years old, youngest from when they were born
    • Key to 106 year old's great health: her attitude and believe system for life; just loved life, never held things in, yoga, meditation
    • Patients 90+ years old with best visual system, they all had in common: minimal medications in their life. Prescriptions are important, but they first try naturally. When they needed medication, they tried to use bare minimum that was also effective. Getting off them asap. Every medication has to be detoxified by kidney and liver. So we need to keep those parts of our body healthy.

Neuroplasticity (Norman Doidge, The Brain that Changes Itself): Embryologically, physioloigcally, neurologically, the eyes are brain tissues; they are outgrowths of the brain

[39:40] Dr. Grossman's success with patients is with a self-selecting community 

  • Patients already more balanced with integrative lifestyle, perspective, and values
  • They already did 90% of the work

[42:17] Influence of toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and EMFs on eye health?

Toxic chemicals affect heart and brain, which affect your eyes.

  • Puts extra burden on liver etc so it affects your eyes. Earlier cataracts, macular degeneration. Detoxing meridians to eyes.
  • In TCM, liver relates to eye
  • All meridiens go between: eyes and heart; teeth and eyes
  • So chemical exposures, HMs, EMFs, are extra burden on your organs, which is stress on your eyes. For him, causing earlier cataracts, macular degeneration. Chelation therapy can help, getting rid of amalgams, dental problems can affect eyes.
  • EMFs: He's EMF-sensitive.
    • Could contribute to cataracts, circulation in brain,... EMFs is invisible toxicity.
    • Is big believer in grounding, barefoot with dirt.
    • We're losing our resonance.
    • The more we can take care of our inner body, then we can be more resilient so that we can handle these toxicities (toxic chemicals, heavy metals, or EMFs).

[46:19] Visual hygiene

  • 10 minutes twice per day is ideal. But even 2-5 minutes is better.
  • For change, do something for 40 straight days.
  • Start with palming exercises, warm compresses
  • Bring into your consciousness, for it to eventually become a habit

[47:40] Infrared saunas

  • "It a great way to detoxify"
  • He has one, great for lyme diseases.
  • We detox from our liver, kidneys, and skin. 
  • Not all infrared saunas are the same, so check EMFs
  • He probably uses it 5 times a week. Perfect world: 20 minutes, but he does 10 minutes.
  • He also does epsom salt baths to detoxify, with charcoal, for the system

[49:25] Light

  • Natural sunlight
  • Artificial light
  • He has 10 best tips to wear sunglasses on his website
  • Classes on computer eye strain on his website
  • Free apps to reduce blue light (listed on his website)
  • How dark your eyes influences how well you can handle sunlight without sunglasses
  • 100% UVA and UVB protection is best; wraparounds are best (20% of light can come from the sides)
  • Too much ultraviolet light can cause photo-oxidation on your lens and retina
  • Certain nutrients (like lutein, vitamin C,...) can act as nature's sunglasses
  • Fluorescent light's flickering is stressful for your eyes. Too high in bluelight (shortest wavelenght). Can contribute to computer eye strain and other eye problems.
  • We need vitamin D from the sun. Sun is healing. Go out in the beginning of the morning for 45 minutes for natural light. Many of us are vitamin D deficient. 
  • Bluelight glasses are very helpful. You can put things on your computer screens to filter bluelight.

Resources mentioned

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