The People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 978: Protecting Our Eyesight

Natural approaches including diet and supplements can help us avoid common vision problems and protect our sight.
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Protecting Our Eyesight

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We often take our sight for granted, and wrongly assume that there is nothing that can be done to keep vision problems from occurring. Our guest has combed the medical literature to find ways to prevent or even reverse conditions such as cataracts, macular degeneration and glaucoma with natural approaches.

Myopic Youngsters

Around the world, there is a huge increase of nearsightedness in children. What environmental factors are contributing, and how can we reverse their influence?

We also learn about eating well to nourish the eyes and protect our eyesight.

This Week’s Guest:

Rob Abel, Jr., MD, is an ophthalmologist with a keen interest in both complementary and conventional medicine. He is medical director of the Medical Eye Bank of Delaware and author of The Eye Care Revolution: Prevent and Reverse Common Vision Problems. The book is now out in its third edition.

His websites are and

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I also would like a printed version. Podcasts simply take too long to listen to, get interrupted by calls, visitors, and pets, and disturb other people unless listened to with earphones. Also, what about people who are hard of hearing or deaf?

I realized the importance of protecting eyesight very late in life. It’s true that most doctors get very little nutritional training. I underwent a laser treatment at a lasik surgery center. I was so tensed that I had to take medicine for anxiety post-surgery. All that because I didn’t take proper care of my eyes back when I was young.

My great concern about eyesight is lighting. I’ve noticed, with the new energy efficient light bulbs, I have trouble reading. Normally, this would lead me to the optometrist, assuming my eyesight is deteriorating. However, when I get in better light, I easily read. I think in the future, we’ll have more people wearing glasses who don’t need them. They just need better lighting. I don’t know what the solution is for those of us wanting better lighting if it’s not being made and sold.

Great dicussion

This was a great show full of lots of helpful info. Thank You!! I’ve been diagnosed with macular degeneration which is a familial thing, but I have been doing the eye vitamins & the Dr. recently told me I didn’t need to come back for a year; so I know the vitamins & the herb bilberry are wonderful helps.

Hi my husband has macular degeneration. He is 81 he has had this for the last four years and it was getting worse, even with all the eye shots into the eyeball every month he was just holding he own. I was reading up about DMSO ( very dangerous stuff if not handled right) (My oldest son worked with the grayhound dogs that were racing, after the races they would rub the dogs legs to stop any pain in their legs. He said it was not dangerous if you were careful with it. ) On the internet I found where Dmso was very useful for most anything and would help with almost any thing, even eyes. So my husband was open to almost anything at this time so we gave it a go. I mixed pure DMSO from Dr. Jacob’s website with distilled water and had him spray his belly and legs twice a day. He went back to the doctor after only doing this for a month twice daily. He was able to read three lines below where he had been reading. I never have to remind him to spray now, he always hated to do it before.

I take blood pressure medication at night, only 2.5mg, because I have heard that it is better to take this type of medication before you go to bed to avoid, prevent, a stroke since they seem to be more prevalent during the night. I also take the 81 mg aspirin at the same time. If I understand Dr. Abel’s comment about poor or slow blood flow during the night, I might be harming my pressure in my eyes, which is a bit high now: 23/24. My eye doctor is trying to figure out what is causing this high pressure and she wants to see me in 6 months instead of a year. By the way, I enjoy People’s Pharmacy a lot – thank you for bringing forth such informative topics.

One point not discussed by the doctor was the effectiveness of eye excercises. Do they work? Can they help the health of the eyes? The eye muscles change over time and can affect the shape of the eyeball which affects the focusing of images on the retina properly. Some literature says this problem can be lessened while others say it can’t. I have submitted this question to Dr. Abel for his view on this.

My ophthalmologist said that eating spinach at least three times a week was the only reliable way to ward off Macular Degeneration (that was five years ago).

My mother has “Adult Best Disease” which has effects very similar to Macular Degeneration (the milder type). It is less common, and hasn’t rendered her “blind”, but she feels that way. Are there any emerging therapies (or other interventions) for mitigating the loss of retinal vision from this eye disorder?

Excellent broadcast. Very informative.

this is one of the most important and interesting programs on the air. I have just one comment about your comment : how can you get children away from the computer etc and outside. I keep hearing about this concern. I want to say to people- Get a grip you are the parent. You have the authority and responsibility to instill good health practice skills in your kids!

I have had Glaucoma since age 50, which i inherited from my grandmother. I use prescribed eye drops and visit the opthamalogist every 4 months. I have not lost any side vision, have perfect vision and wear over the counter reading glasses. The drops control the disease and would not want to be without them. My grandmother was blind.

Absolutely nutrition is a vital factor in eye health. Wheat grass and astaxanthin can play a role in reversing cataracts — also cineraria eye drops as well as the Santa Lucia ones. Lutein and bilberry are also helpful, so eat plenty of greens and especially blueberries. And definitely get plenty of sleep. I received a cataract from laser eye surgery so ‘first do no harm’ comes to mind. Most ‘mainstream’ doctors get minimal nutritional training which is a real tragedy. So it is up to us to do our own research based on objective evidence, not information thinly disguised as pharmaceutical propaganda. Bottom line — you are what you eat, so treat your body like a temple and not a dumpster!

My family has Macular Degeneration (both kinds ) and Glaucoma tendencies. I have spoken to many eye experts, and cannot get a clear answer to taking eye vitamins (Ocuvite, etc.) as a preventative or not. Some doctors feel it is a waste if you do not have any issues.
Your opinion?

There is research suggesting that a vitamin formulation (AREDS) may reduce the risk. This Q&A from the New York Times is a bit dated, but still has good info:

I have heard that spinach and eggs have ingredients that keep the retina healthy. My mother had macular degeneration…I have been eating a spinach omelet every day and so far my eyes are healthy…It doesn’t hurt and may help.

I do not have the equipment for podcasts and request that a printed version be made available.

What about us, those who don’t have iPods and smartphones? Are we going to be left behind?

William F Wallace, Ph. D.
Brandon MS

I agree. Would love to have printed version.

Good news! If you are able to access this website and leave a comment you can listen to our podcasts for free without a smartphone or other mobile device. You can use podcast software on your Mac or PC. The easiest to find and use for a computer is iTunes (available for both Apple and PC for free). Once you have downloaded and installed iTunes (available here: you can then find our podcast here:

Click the “View in iTunes” link to be taken to our show in iTunes and download the episode you are interested in there. You can also “subscribe” to our podcast so all future shows are automatically downloaded for you.

You can also listen to the show for free without any special software by visiting the page about the show you are interested in the Monday following our radio broadcast date. Just click the play button or the “play in new window” link. This show will be available for four weeks for free.

And for more information in a printed format, you can also check out our guest’s book, The Eye Care Revolution: Prevent and Reverse Common Vision Problems, available online and from your local bookstore.

Thanks for your interest,

-The People’s Pharmacy

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