In this interview, optometrist and eye health coach Taylor DeGroot reviews how your diet, lifestyle and stress can impact your vision, and simple remedies and tools that can help you address common vision problems. While she only recently graduated from optometry school, I’ve been impressed with DeGroot’s interviews on other platforms and her holistic, bioenergetic approach to eye health.
“There are specific conditions like macular degeneration that are entirely dependent upon your health and what you’re eating,” she says. “When I was in optometry school, I realized there was definitely a gap where people who have these chronic degenerative conditions are not getting the proper education on how much lifestyle and diet really play a role in your eye health.
So, it was a little bit frustrating for me at times. When you have 30 minutes in an exam room with a patient, you’re rushed, and there’s not really any way to go into all of it.
The system is just set up in a way where you can’t really address certain things that could really benefit [the patient]. People that have chronic diseases are told ‘There’s nothing you can do, there’s nothing you did to deserve this, it’s just [bad] luck.’
Terminology like that can really make people discouraged and feel like there’s nothing they can do to improve their eye health when, really, you can improve your eye health at any age. So, I really just wanted a way to be able to give people an alternative route, a different way to see eye health and improve their vision at any age, and the best way for me to do that was to go into health coaching.
You don’t have to always rely on the traditional medical system, even though I think with certain conditions an integrative approach is definitely the best way to go. There are so many more things out there that people just don’t know about, so that’s what inspired me to get into more of the bioenergetic side of things.
The way I work with clients is different from the traditional system. I do bioenergetic testing, which is based off hair and saliva, and that tells me nutrient deficiencies [and] mineral imbalance. It’ll even tell me specific toxins that are impacting the eyes. I’ll see things like mold, parasites, bacteria pop up.
I see Epstein-Barr virus affects the eyes a lot, as well as viral toxins in general. You can see histamine issues and things like that, so it really just helps me to pinpoint what parts of the eyes are stressed. I also connect that to full body health by seeing which organ systems are most stressed.
We can even see what supplements are resonating with people’s bodies. That gives you extra clues into what parts of the body are stressed and how to best support them.
The machine I use is a Qest4 Bioresonance machine, and it’s basically a database. Everything in the world holds frequency. Basically, how the body is responding to the frequencies that it’s exposed to will tell you what’s out of balance and what will bring the body back into balance.”
Common Eye Ailments Have Environmental Roots
Some of the most common eye ailments that DeGroot sees are glaucoma, cataracts, macular degeneration and declining eyesight in general. As she explains, your eyes have high oxygen requirements as their metabolic rate is high, so once your body begins to deteriorate, or when your brain is under stress, your eyes are among the first places where symptoms start to emerge.
Many with glaucoma tend to be affected by mold, or they have root canals or mercury fillings. Exposure to radiation, especially a lot of electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure from cellphones and Wi-Fi routers can also tax the eyes. Many in their 30s and 40s are also coming in with cataracts, which historically only affected the elderly.
“That’s a 100% environmental — toxins and nutrients deficiencies and lower antioxidant status in the body — because the main antioxidants in the eye are melatonin, glutathione and vitamin C. Your eyes have a 40% higher vitamin C need compared to the rest of your body … Because of its high metabolic rate, it needs a lot more antioxidants,” DeGroot says.
Eyes Are Damaged by Polyunsaturated Fats
Your eyes are also highly susceptible to and damaged by polyunsaturated fats (PUFAs) such as linoleic acid (LA). She explains:
“We [see] this in certain eye conditions. For example, there’s a condition called Bietti’s crystalline dystrophy. It’s basically a proof of poisoning disorder. What happens is crystalline deposits build up in the retina, and this is due to the body’s inability — based off a specific gene mutation — to metabolize PUFAs specifically.”
Macular degeneration is another eye condition that is commonly related to excessive PUFA intake. I’ve previously interviewed Dr. Chris Knobbe, an ophthalmologist who wrote a book on the historical progression of age-related macular degeneration (AMD), showing how it rose in tandem with the consumption of seed oils. It was never recognized prior to 1900 and likely is a result of processed seed oil consumption.
His conclusion is that seed oils or high doses of omega-6, specifically LA, were the primary culprit not just in AMD but chronic diseases of all kinds. DeGroot agrees, stating she believes it’s important to recognize this health threat and to make sure our children aren’t overexposed. LA builds up in tissues over time, and even at the age of 18, these lipids start building up in the eyes. “You can actually see it,” she says.
“One of the earliest ways that we can see degeneration in the eye is using a visual field test, because we’ll see parts of the visual field that are missing or little spots in the visual field that are missing before we actually see degeneration in the optic nerve.
That’s actually a really good early detection for glaucoma, because we’ll see the visual field defect before we see changes on the optic nerve. That’s one of the most sensitive tests we can do to catch things early.
With macular degeneration specifically, you see these spots that they call drusen, which is a buildup of calcium, lipids, and things like that. They’re very tiny, so you have to look very carefully in younger people. But it’s interesting how early these things actually start.”
Reversing Eye Problems
According to DeGroot, you can prevent the progression of many eye diseases by eating the right foods, cutting out seed oils and improving your nutrient status. Zinc is particularly important for eye health, as it helps shuttle retinol from your liver to your eyes, and retinol is important for the health of your photoreceptors. Vitamin C is another.
“So, you can definitely slow and stop progression, even if you have the diagnosis,” she says. “That’s the main thing. Even with cataracts, I think there is a way you can reverse mild to moderate cataracts, but once it gets to the severe stage, obviously, it’s a lot harder to reverse that damage.”
Here’s a highlight of some of the remedies DeGroot recommends for various eye conditions, but it is best to listen to the interview or read the transcript for more complete information:
• Cataracts — N-acetyl-carnitine (NAC) eyedrops combined with emu oil as a carrier. Emu oil can penetrate all seven layers of the skin and is high in vitamin K. “I’ve just been telling people to mix them,” she says. Another excellent carrier is DMSO, which is also available as eyedrops. In this case, you would simply mix the NAC and DMSO drops together.
She also recommends using intranasal glutathione, tauroursodeoxycholic acid — TUDCA, bile acid that helps your liver process cholesterol and expel toxins. A prescription version is sold under the name UDCA — and making sure you have plenty of antioxidants in your diet.
Also, avoid blue light, such as that from electronic screens, as blue light reduces melatonin in your lens, which is a big cause for cataracts. Avoiding blue light becomes even more important if you have cataract surgery, as your natural lens has some built-in protection against blue light whereas the artificial lens does not.
(UV-blocking artificial lenses are available through special order, but it’s not standard.) So, if you get cataract surgery, wear blue-blocking glasses when looking at screens and when in artificial lighting indoors. She also provides many other useful suggestions for anyone considering cataract surgery to help you pick the right type of lens.
• Dry eyes — Nano fulvic acid eyedrops and castor oil packs over the eyes. Most dry eye patients also have vagus nerve dysregulation. Once their nervous system is regulated, the dryness will often disappear. Another common factor is Lasik surgery, as it affects how your eyes detox.
• Glaucoma — 4% taurine eyedrops sold under the brand name Taustin. “People are definitely resonating with that one on bioresonance,” she says.
The other thing she recommends for people with glaucoma is to make sure you don’t have sleep disordered breathing — such as sleep apnea or mouth breathing — because that is one of the main causes for optic nerve degeneration.
Many glaucoma patients, especially if they have sleep apnea, are also deficient in choline. Eggs are an excellent source of choline, but DeGroot favors royal bee jelly, as it contains acetylcholine, which is a highly bioavailable form.
• Macular degeneration — TUDCA and castor oil packs to move bile and clean out the liver. Also radically decrease your seed oil consumption and all processed foods. Additionally, lowering your cortisol level by optimizing macronutrient ratios as per Ray Peat’s work can be enormously beneficial. I will be reviewing this in detail in future articles.
• Pinguecula (fibrosis on the eye) — TUDCA and castor oil packs, as this is a sign that your liver and gallbladder need support, along with vitamin K2 (to address excess calcium) and systemic enzymes such as serratiopeptidase, nattokinase or lumbrokinase, to break down the fibrin.
Things You Didn’t Know About Lasik Surgery
Dry eyes aren’t the only possible side effect of Lasik surgery. It can also have adverse effects on your posture, which in turn can lead to chronic posture-related aches and pains. According to DeGroot, Lasik surgery:
“… locks people in a certain body posture because you’re kind of tattooing a prescription onto the eye. When you do that, it impacts the body posture, because your body will only go where the eyes are comfortable leading.
I collaborate with someone who does postural restoration. It’s called PRI. And she says that Lasik patients are her hardest patients because they’re so patterned, their bodies are so patterned because of that glasses prescription that they could never take off.”
The Problem With Prescription Glasses
DeGroot also highlights little-known problems with prescription eyeglasses. If your prescription is based on your vision at 20 feet, then when you’re working on something up close, like your computer, your prescription is actually 20 times too strong. So, wearing those glasses while working all day will make your vision worse. She explains:
“If you’re doing your work and you’re using a prescription that’s set for 20/20, that glasses prescription is 20 times too strong for you. If you’re working on your computer, ideally you would be using a prescription that’s set for that distance.
I would say if you’re spending most of the day on the computer and you can go without the glasses, obviously, do that. But if your prescription is too high and you can’t see anything at near, just get another prescription that’s set for that distance.
I prefer two separate pairs of glasses. The problem with bifocals and progressives is that they lock your eyes. You can only see from a very specific part of the glasses, so that locks your eyes into that one position. That’s locking up your posture, and that’s also locking up the nervous system because eye movements obviously correlate with emotions.
When we think and access emotions, our eyes make certain movements. That’s actually how we access information. We use certain eye movements because the eyes are pattern addicts and so are the brain. When those two have to work together, the eyes are always working with the brain, basically because they’re part of it.
That’s why when you lock the eyes into any certain position, you’re not able to access your brain, your brain isn’t as fluid, your thinking isn’t as fluid, your body isn’t as fluid. That’s the big downside to wearing things like bifocals and progressives — they do lock your eyes into a certain position to see clearly.”
Myopia and Your Nervous System
When it comes to myopia, or near-sightedness, your nervous system plays a significant role, and therefore needs to be taken into account in the treatment. Minimizing the amount of time you spend looking at screens and taking lots of breaks during which you look at something far away are part of that.
“What happens when we’re looking at screens all day is that the ciliary muscle contracts, and it gets locked in that contracted state. Then, when you go to look far away again, it’s not able to fully relax anymore because it’s so used to being contracted,” DeGroot explains.
“The eyes are pattern addicts. The eyes like to just stick to what they’ve been doing. Looking near-to-far is actually one of the ways to quickly regulate the nervous system. It stimulates the vagus nerve.
It’s actually a good trick if you’re stressed or if you’re caught in fight or flight. Take two fingers or two pencils, hold one in front of your nose and one at arm’s length. If you look from your near finger to your far finger consecutively, that’s actually a way to simulate the vagus nerve and calm the body down. I recommend that to people.
Looking far away is another way to relax the nervous system, opening up your peripheral vision. When people are caught in fight or flight, they tend to only focus on the central vision and they forget about the periphery. One of the ways that you can stimulate your peripheral vision is by walking around and looking far away.
You can also practice a technique I like called open focus, where you’re looking at the world more softly, and instead of focusing solely on your central vision, you’re inviting the periphery. You’re just letting your eyes wander, letting your eyes notice what’s around them.
Healthy eyes like to move a lot and they don’t like to just stay in one place and stare. That’s another bad habit people have. They stare and keep their eyes in one place. That’s also what glasses train the eyes to do. Glasses have an optical center, so there’s one part in the glasses where you see most clearly. Glasses in a way are kind of visual confinement because they lock your eyes into one place.
So, if you’re working on a computer, every 20 minutes or so, get up, walk around, look far away. I would say every 20 minutes is probably the cutoff. I would say don’t sit down and stare at your computer for longer than 20 minutes.
And then certain eye exercises, I definitely think there are benefits to that. Your eye movements actually correlate with something called the oculocardiac reflex. Moving the eyes laterally can help calm the nervous system down. You can close your eyes and picture a coin and then trace the outsides of the coin with your eyes. Just get the eyes moving again. Get them looking far away.
You can also practice something called calming, which is a nice way to calm the eyes. If you have an eye twitch or eye strain, sit down for about 20 minutes and then gently cup your hands over the eyes. That’s a really nice way to just calm someone down.
I’ve also noticed that people’s vision changes depending on how stressed they are. If you’re going to the eye doctor and you are in a stress state or your posture’s locked up in a certain way, that’s going to affect the prescription you get.
What I’ve been learning is that, if you go to the eye doctor and you get a refraction done standing, that’s much better for body freedom. So one thing people could try is to do a standing refraction with a trial lens frame. Most eye doctors have a trial lens frame.
Another exercise you can do is twisting your body from side to side standing up. It’s called the long swing. That’s basically a way that you can improve your peripheral vision, improve the saccadic eye movements.”
Other alternatives include doing an online search for a neuro-optometrist or an optometrist that specializes in vision therapy, as they assess how your eyes work together and not just “Do you have 20/20 vision?” To find a vision therapist, check out the College of Optometrists in Vision Development’s website.
Alternatively, find someone that specializes in PRI, which stands for Postural Restoration Institute. “They usually work with specific optometrists that are more open-minded to working with the whole body,” DeGroot says.