MGU 304 Jake Steiner | Better Eye Vision

 

Better eyes = happier you! Your vision is important, but what if you’re not being told the whole truth about your eyes? Today, Whitney Lauritsen talks to the founder of EndmyopiaJake Steiner, about the truth about the eye industry. Shortsightedness (myopia) is a 100 billion dollar a year business. The treatment (glasses) literally cause more of the condition, which is sold at 5000% profit margins. There are thousands of reviewed clinical science articles around the internet telling the truth about your eye problem. Your eyes may not be broken; you could have natural 20/20 eyesight. You could be doing things you couldn’t do because your eyesight was holding you back. Also, discover the shocking truth about glasses and LASIK.

Listen to the podcast here:

20/20 Vision: Seeing Into The Future (Literally And Figuratively) With Jake Steiner

“Bad Mushrooms” And Simple Ways To Improve Your Sight Naturally

When I was looking at the guest’s bio, passions, and work that this wonderful man, Jake, is doing for the world, it reminded me of something I hadn’t thought about in a long time. I’m excited to dig in and reflect on this low priority in my life thus far. I think about several years ago, I remember where I was when this happened.

I’m trying to place the date. Let’s say 2008 or 2009. I went to this workshop in Santa Monica, California, about eyesight. It was fascinating for me because I remember, as a teenager, finding out that I needed to wear glasses to drive. It was the big wake-up call either I was getting my driver’s license or coincidentally went to the doctor, looked at my eyesight, and said, “You are going to need glasses.”

I was terrified of it. Mostly at that time, and it was like a vein superficial fear of, “I’m going to look awful in glasses.” For the longest time, I avoided glasses and wore contacts. It was fine, and I accepted it. I remember around that 2008 timeframe, and I saw a class that was happening in Santa Monica of a woman who was teaching people how to strengthen their eyes and vision without glasses or contacts.

I thought, “That sounds much better,” because for so long, contacts were expensive. I had to go get them, then the prescription changed. It felt like this huge hassle. I went to this workshop, and she had these great practices. I remember one, in particular, there were these glasses with pinholes in them. They would teach your eyes somehow to work differently.

I also remember her saying something about you could train yourself simply by looking in the distance and taking in the information in a way that you don’t usually take in. Some of what she taught me has been in the back of my mind ever since but it got put on the back burner. In 2013, another big thing happened with my vision, which has had an ongoing impact on my YouTube audience.

In one of my channels, I posted a video about being diagnosed with what the doctor referred to as eye herpes, which I had never heard of before. I was freaked out by it. It was something going on with my vision. I went in, and that’s what they told me that was going on. I had to take these eye drops and whatever, and it cleared up, fortunately.

Along that process, I saw another eye specialist who said, “Has anyone ever told you that your eyes are super inflamed and it’s contributing to your poor vision?” He encouraged me not to wear contacts anymore and switch to glasses. I thought, “I don’t like the way I look in glasses.” I took his advice anyway because I cared about my eyes and health.

Lo and behold, about a month later, I went back to him, and my vision had completely improved. My eyes were so inflamed from wearing contacts all those years. I don’t know if I personally had an allergic reaction or there was a specific contact I was wearing but my eyeglass prescription went way down. I decided never to wear contacts again. Now I only wear glasses when driving the car because my vision is still a little blurry.

Now that leads me to Jake and his specialty. I’m very interested in this because aside from those moments, I have not prioritized my vision. It’s something that is more irksome. I only think about it when I’m trying to see something, and I have to put on my glasses to see it more clearly. Jake, I know that you are so passionate about the vision. I’m excited to dive into this and see what else our readers and I can learn about their vision.

Stop trusting someone because of their title and start asking more questions. Click To Tweet

We can use that as a jumping-off point. Even as we are talking now, I feel like my eye feels a little inflamed and itchy. It’s because of some food I ate as part of my food sensitivities. I imagine you have heard a lot of these things before. These must not be new topics that have come up but maybe they are.

It’s super common. You and I have the same, I don’t know exactly what age it was but it was probably 12 or 13 when I’ve got my first glasses. My parents took me to the optometrist but I was excited because I enjoyed the attention, frames, and things to play with. When you get your glasses on, you walk out of there, and the world is super 3D, extra clear. Unfortunately, I liked it. The vanity didn’t kick in until much later. Why I no longer need glasses is because of vanity also.

I was wearing minus five optic glasses in the end. They were thick. The thicker the glasses are, the smaller your eyes look behind them. It’s one of the ways glasses work. I had these tiny little piggy eyes behind thick lenses, and as a single guy, that was not super acceptable. I went to the optometrist one time, and they said, “You need stronger glasses,” in my twenties. That’s the first time I went by myself. I asked, “Why is this?” At that point, I was an analyst. My profession is understanding businesses, basically. I’m a super boring guy. I analyze what’s going on. I don’t listen so much to people’s stories, tales and marketing.

I go at what is the actual data. When the optometrist said, “You need strong glasses.” I asked why. They said, “It’s mysterious and genetic. We don’t know.” Because of my profession, that’s not a suitable answer. You go to a guy who’s selling you treatment and claims to be an expert. If they don’t understand the cause of my problem, I don’t know if I want them to treat it. It’s a stretch to go. I don’t know what caused this but it’s probably genetic. It’s not genetic. Our human genes didn’t change in many years to include the entire world’s population to suddenly not be able to see. It’s extremely unlikely.

I went and did a bunch of research and found the actual cause of myopia, which is not that complicated. I started playing around with reversing it, which was the last several years of messing with. It never was my job. It’s not my income or a thing but somehow, I fell into this. Why does nobody else talk about it? I’ve got dragged along with what’s now a pretty big community of people who go, “This is a thing, and we could enjoy seeing well, and it will be easy to do.” Instead, we are feeding a $100 billion industry, who is consistently lying about our eyesight.

That in itself I don’t hear people talking about very often. That’s part of what makes this so fascinating is the more that we reflect on how others are profiting off of, for lack of a better term, fooling us, manipulating us, convincing us of something, which is at the core of a lot of marketing. That leads us to do something unnecessary when many of us are striving for a more natural solution. What drew me to that curiosity I had several years ago going to that class is thinking, “How come nobody has ever told me that I don’t need to wear glasses or contacts.” That was the other thing in 2013.

When I saw this amazing eye doctor, he was the very first one, out of all the eye specialists I had seen throughout my life, who said, “Your eyes are inflamed.” I’m thinking, “What?” I had been going year after year, every two years, whatever that period was, to get new contact prescriptions. Nobody stopped me to ask why my prescription was going up. I thought that was like, “How vision worked.” It turns out my prescription was going up because my eyes were inflamed, and they were not supposed to be inflamed.

We have this institutionalized trust. My parents are both medical doctors. I grew up with the relationship that exists between people in that way. I think part of what I’m doing and people complain a lot because my website is terrible. I explain a lot of science, and people are like, “Give me the steps. I don’t want to understand the science.” My point is always to replace this sense of trusting a person because of a title and ask more questions.

I know it’s a pain and takes more effort and time. You want to find somebody who you would go, “This guy knows, here we go.” The road you are taking, you might be going down who knows what direction, where you could have spent a couple of days or 1 or 2 weeks going Google scholar. See what science says and what’s going on, and not end up in that place. The amazing doctors and modern medical science are brilliant.

MGU 304 Jake Steiner | Better Eye Vision

Better Eye Vision: Things have not gotten safer or better for humans. When you eat a wild mushroom, maybe it’ll kill you. Like modern medical science, there are awesome things, and there are not great things.

 

There are a ton of things that can improve our lives. As we say, it’s like mushrooms in a forest. Things have not gotten safer or better for humans in a lot of ways. You walk into the forest and you eat a mushroom. Maybe it will kill you. You have to know which mushrooms are good for you. The same is true for modern medical science. There’s awesome stuff, and there’s not great stuff.

There are lots of pills, medicines, and treatments that are symptom treatments that are not going to improve your life would have better answers that you don’t get from them. It’s a bad mushroom. The guy who told you that your eyes were inflamed and helped you, a medical doctor doing medical stuff, is a good mushroom. People place too much trust. They assume that all of these medical mushrooms are awesome. I’m going to stop with that metaphor.

It’s a great metaphor because mushrooms are our friends. I’m deeply fascinated by mushrooms more and more. It’s a great point. It goes back to a lot of those moments that I have had. I know other people have had about realizing what they have been told by people they trust may not be the full truth or the information they need. Perhaps they were told things for someone else to benefit and for them not to benefit or perhaps suffer in some ways.

Maybe it’s not this deep evil. Unfortunately, our society works that way. That’s why I bring up marketing. If you look at some elements of marketing, you could think, “This is pretty awful of how people manipulate one another to make money,” but sometimes we market for good. It ties into your metaphor here that not all marketing is bad because we need the information to learn from each other. We need other people’s skills and services.

One thing cool about what you are doing, Jake, is you have this large community. It’s a Facebook Group of over 20,000 people in there. It sounds like everybody is there to help one another. They are not there to sell each other on something. It’s like, “This is what’s going on with my vision now.” I haven’t been in your group but I assume that’s what it is. A huge part of our future but also our past is supportive communities versus this capitalist stance of people taking advantage of one another to succeed at whatever cost. It sounds disturbing but I feel like that easily happens with our medical system, especially in the US.

It does. Marketing is also true. I have had marketing people go over my web stuff and force me to do marketing things that I don’t want to do but it works. My goal is I want people to go, “I should care about my eyes.” You’ve got those glasses. As long as you don’t have problems with the glasses, you live the life you live. Once a year, you wander in there, and they say, “Prescription this and that,” and you go buy and live your life again.

I don’t care. I’m not a huge humanitarian. People do whatever they want. If I went searching and I would want to find this information, I would want somebody to put it out there. You can go paragliding, skydiving, and ride a bicycle in the rain without frames in front of your eyes. Your kids don’t need glasses. Their social development will get screwed up by wearing glasses. iPads are not babysitters. There’s so much stuff that nobody is talking about because it makes no money. My stuff is free.

A lot of times, the truth and health don’t make money, so I need to make money to live. How am I going to do this stuff? I think that’s a big problem. While we were wandering around totally on random topics, people don’t realize how much your life could be different if you didn’t depend on these artificial things to give you a good vision.

Myself included. I feel like I spend so much of my life thinking about health and looking for natural alternatives or ways to simplify. As I mentioned, my vision has not been a big focus. You are inspiring me to think about this. A great example is it’s an inconvenience, too. My prescription is not very high. As I mentioned, the great majority of the time that I’m wearing my glasses is when I’m driving. If I don’t wear them, things look blurry. Maybe if I go to the movie theater, If something is in the distance or I go to the traditional theater, seeing a play or something, and I’m sitting farther away, a concert perhaps, I will wear them.

There's so much that people are not talking about because it doesn't make money. Click To Tweet

Sometimes I forget my glasses and this happened to me. I’ve got in the car, and I was thinking, “My glasses are all the way here. I don’t have them.” Do I go back and get them? I didn’t even know at that moment if I was able to go get them, and I had to drive without my glasses. Funny enough, I started to forget about the fact that I wasn’t wearing them because my eyes adjusted. I’ve got used to that experience of blurriness. It’s the opposite of what you were talking about as a kid that first time you put on glasses, and everything looks so clear and vibrant. You have been used to things being blurry. You take that as your norm. I like that intersection of m, how can we improve our vision so that we don’t have to wear them at all? That’s the ideal.

Let me explain the biology for two minutes. It’s not super exciting but it’s important to understand. You were talking about the lady that was giving ideas about vision, and it’s one of my frustrating little points. It’s the same with optometrists. It’s understanding the cause before suggesting solutions. I have tried sarcastic humor, and I’m not that exciting in many ways but I always call let’s understand the problem before we talk about the solutions. Super extra short version, eyeball in the front is a flexible lens. It’s a fluid-filled ball. It’s a cool piece of biology technology.

The lens is flexible. There’s a circular muscle around it. When you look at a distance, the muscles relax, and the lens is flat, and you see clearly at a distance. It’s like a camera lens. That lens refocuses the light that focuses on the back of the eyeball, where the retina starts processing the visual. Seeing some ball lens in the front, the receiver, the retina in the back, and then the lens refocuses light, depending on if you look at something up close or far away.

That muscle gets tighter the closer you look at something. The key to most of your eyesight challenges is a relaxed muscle at 20 feet, and then tighter and tighter muscle the closer you focus. There’s no pain feedback. You don’t feel that muscle is tight. If you look at your phone, that muscle is extremely tight because now you have a close distance. If you are looking at your TV, that muscle is moderately tight. It’s still a few feet away.

If you are at 20 feet, that muscle is totally relaxed. I super recommend people go to Scholar.Google.com. Whenever you find some random dude on the internet saying this $100 billion industry is lying, I always go there, google search for only medical science, clinical science, peer-reviewed journals, no internet marketing stuff. Even if you don’t want to read scientific articles, it’s a great way to go, “Can this be true?” You type in pseudo myopia or near induced transient myopia. Near-induced caused by near. Transient means temporary. Myopia is shortsightedness or near-sightedness.

If you type those into Google Scholar, you are going to get tens of thousands of search results of 50 years’ worth of peer-reviewed clinical science discussing how your shortsightedness starts. It’s not a mysterious genetic illness. It’s that muscle has been tight for too long. It’s spasms. Literally, when you were twelve, and you went to the optometrist, what happened is you have been in school long enough, and you are spending enough time in front of books to date it’s screens that the muscle spent so much time in a super tight mode that when you looked at a distance, it didn’t totally relax.

If you put your camera in manual mode and you set the focus to somewhere in between closeup and distance, and stuff is blurry, the lens is stuck. I recommend looking pseudo myopia up. All it would take is more distance vision time to let that muscle relax. Your eyesight would have been perfect again. I’m going to stop the giant monologue on biology here. Since you almost never wear glasses, your vision isn’t getting worse. If you took those glasses and you wore them now while we are talking, and you want them for all your computer work, a year from now, if you took them off, everything would be blurry. Wearing the glasses literally creates a dependence on glasses and needing more of them.

I find this incredibly helpful and fascinating. It has never been explained to me that way or at least not in a way where I was willing to pay attention. Sometimes information goes in one ear and out the other. Having these conversations when something is put into context makes them so valuable. It got me thinking, “I definitely want to go look this up and dig in a little deeper.” I am very curious about exercises and practices.

I imagine that you have a lot of resources for this on your website, in the Facebook Groups, and all of that. Is that the best place to find tips for what you can do? Are there daily practices? I’m also curious, one of the big hot topics in the wellness world is blue-blocking glasses. You have touched upon using screens. I have several pairs of them. I know that they are good and recommended for the blue light reasons. I’m curious about your perspective on them. Are they something that you highly recommend doing multiple times a day? It’s often encouraged to wear them in the morning and at night when you are using screens. Some people wear them all the time. What are your thoughts on those?

MGU 304 Jake Steiner | Better Eye Vision

Better Eye Vision: Based on 50 years’ worth of reviewed clinical science, Pseudomyopia doesn’t start because of mysterious genetic illnesses. It starts because a muscle has been tight for too long, so it starts to spasm.

 

I’m not much loved by people selling things because I’m a simple creature. To me, so much of the time, the solution is not another product or thing. It’s more going outside and putting the screen down. That’s why I’m not selling stuff, and so much of what I’m doing is not profitable in any way. Here’s my take on the blue-blocking glasses, not a popular take but Coke Zero. Are you familiar with Coke Zero? Coca-Cola made this product where there’s no sugar in it. They say, “It’s better for you.”

McDonald’s promotes salads. My favorite thing is Wonder Bread, where they say extra vitamins like fortified with vitamins. It’s taking a thing that is not good for you and removing an ingredient or adding an ingredient and going, “This will fix it.” That’s blue-blocking glasses. Your problem is you are not spending enough time in a natural environment. You are surrounded by artificial environments. The blue part of the light spectrum definitely is not ideal for things like sleep.

There’s stuff that light spectrum affects absolutely. Your problem isn’t the blue part of the light spectrum. The problem is that you are spending too much time on the screen. Your sleep patterns and social interactions are disrupted. You are not seeing the outside world. People feel guilty innately because you know on some level that this is not ideal.

They make a product to sell you to make you believe. If you pop these on and you eliminate this tiny part of the spectrum of light, now you are fine. It’s the same as drinking Coke Zero, having a salad at McDonald’s, and buying Wonder Bread with vitamins in it. It doesn’t fix the problem. It’s making you feel less guilty about doing things that you shouldn’t be doing.

That’s very well explained. It’s something that might not seem that obvious. To your point, through marketing, this is where it comes up, over and over again. You hear people say, “This makes such a big difference.” Myself included. I have promoted blue-blocking glasses. Not necessarily to make money from them, although, in full transparency, I’m an affiliate of one of the main blue blocker companies. I signed up for their affiliate program. I started talking about them so much. My main thing was like, “These do seem to make a difference.” To your point, they are only making a difference relative to the other behavior that I have in front of my screens.

They are helpful. I have a Mac thing, and it shifts the light of the screen at nighttime. I’m not saying they are useless. I’m saying we are making ourselves feel better with these things and using them as a complete excuse to go, “My lunch is going to be Wonder Bread and Coke Zero because it’s fine.” Benefit but don’t have that goal this replaces a good habit. It replaces me going to bed earlier, waking up earlier, and putting a screen away more.

This leads me to something. I’m very curious about your perspective, especially given that you have worked in the different elements of technology, finances, branding, and all of this history that you have had. You spend a lot of time on Facebook with your group, which is now rebranded to Meta. We are moving into what people are referring to as Web 3, which is a personal passion of mine. I have a double-sided fascination with it.

1) I’m trying to learn it because it feels like an inevitable thing that’s happening to us. I want to understand it as best as I can before it happens. 2) I’m trying to understand what our future is because there are a lot of downsides to the metaverse, for example. How do you feel about this? What knowledge do you have about the metaverse? How do you feel about people basically immersing themselves in virtual reality, augmented reality, wearing these glasses, not to see real-life but to see this virtual life?

It’s super exciting. Our advancement in our lifetime is unbelievable. We are becoming a different species and a connected species. Phones are already augmenting what we are and have access to the fact that you and I are having a conversation across the world and that these topics are no longer top-down. We are becoming much more peer-connected. The idea is that we can virtually connect and change our characters. It’s amazing stuff.

Understand the cause before looking for solutions. Click To Tweet

On the flip side, the first generation or two of all new things are rough on people. For example, now phones are babysitters. That is a terrible idea but we don’t know this because it’s new. When we discovered that you could make nuclear technology happen, there were times where those things were not ideal for us.

There are medical treatments involving plutonium that were not great. When medical science was advancing, people would use ice picks to try to cure all kinds of brain trauma issues. That totally didn’t work. We are, unfortunately, the Guinea pigs. They are going to be amazed by it and find out the hard way that Facebook is a great way to connect and is a terrible way to make society very split on lots of topics.

It’s going to suck for us in a way because we are going to be amazed by it. We are not going to know in what way this is going to be not great at all. Governments are not super helpful. This is run by companies motivated solely by profit. There are a lot of potential downsides, and nobody cares about our benefit.

Facebook Meta wants to sell this to us. They are going to find the most addictive, possible way to make you spend as much time as possible in the thing to sell your stuff. Governments are not going to care because they won’t control. If it gives them more control, they are going to love it. If you are addicted to a thing that does you no good, nobody will tell you. I have a 5-year-old, now a 6-year-old, and a 1-year-old who doesn’t get to play with phones.

It’s like Steve Jobs said in his own autobiography, “No iPads for my kids.” The dude knew there’s a great upside and downside to these things. A lot of what we are being given is bad mushrooms. Enjoy with caution would be my take on it. It’s going to be amazing and transformative. On the way, a lot of people are going to fall into new ways of addiction that they are not going to be told about, is my thought.

I believe so, too. It feels like there has been so much attention brought to the downsides of social media. They are more and more studies being done about how it’s impacting the mental health of teenagers. It’s not looking that good for us but to your point, they are the people being experimented on at this moment. Those of us who have our fully developed brains are looking at it from a different lens.

I feel torn about it too because, in my head, I’m also thinking you’ve got this community of 20,000 plus people on Facebook, and perhaps they can put on the Oculus glasses or whatever technology it is and feel like they are sitting in a room together, which they may never get the chance to do because of their distance from one another. That stuff excites me. I’m sure you are wondering how this is going to impact their vision. Are we going to get to the point where our eyes are used to looking at screens so close up that our vision is destroyed? Do you think that’s possible for the future and generations now?

This is weird. In the second half of this biology puzzle, the first half is a circular muscle that people don’t know. Optometry, ophthalmology, and clinical science explore this. The weird thing is you go to an optometrist, and they say, “We don’t know it’s genetic.” They do know. The lens selling optometrist, the retail guy, maybe doesn’t know but he should because it’s literally in-depth figured out in their own journals.

The second half of this thing, which is more weird and interesting, is glasses cause more lens-induced myopia. If you go to Google Scholar, your type of lens-induced caused by lenses. Your shortsightedness and near-sightedness literally get worse because you are wearing glasses. It’s tens of thousands of search results. This is a known side effect of wearing glasses. Your eyesight will very likely get worse.

MGU 304 Jake Steiner | Better Eye Vision

Better Eye Vision: There’s a great upside and downside to new technology. It could be amazing and transformative, but a lot of people are going to fall into new ways of addiction.

 

The extra short version is your eyeball is a mechanism in it that adjusts its length. The focus is done in two parts. It’s the lens in the eye, and an eyeball itself changes length. Where the light hits in the back, the retina, and the lens, the distance is adjusted. That mechanism functions throughout your life. Some people think it’s only during puberty or whatever.

Your whole life that will always adjust because it’s a fluid-filled ball. It’s never perfect. Adjustment happens. The mechanism of the adjustment is the eye checks. Where does the light hit in the back? If some of it hits in the front of the retina, the eyeball shortens. If some of it hits behind the retina, the eyeball elongates. It’s always trying to work perfectly. What glasses do is focus some of the light behind the retina.

Your eyeball starts to elongate and your vision gets worse. What I was saying before is if you are wearing your glasses during closeup, you will cause some of this and your eyeball would elongate. Now you would need those glasses. You would be dependent and have to wear them. That’s the well-understood biology that drives $100 billion industries. Get people to wear glasses and they will become dependent on the fact that it’s not a question.

This drives an industry that is dependent on this profit model. People don’t mind because you have options, glasses, contact lenses, and LASIK, which is a terrible idea. The thing that we don’t realize is it affects you as a person. The super-short version is, for example, how we socially interact differently if you wear glasses and if you don’t because you train your eyes to look through the center of a lens.

Your natural eye movement isn’t the same because you are fixed looking through the center of a lens. Your neck and head movements are very slightly altered from a person who doesn’t work with glasses and wears contacts. You seem slightly stiffened and natural, almost subconsciously the person you are talking to. If you are a kid wearing glasses, you get bullied a ton because something is on your face but also because you interact weirdly.

Your social interaction is disturbed by the lens where it can affect your personality development. How did you see yourself? You think of yourself as more nerdy and introverted, and maybe you are not. Maybe it’s because you wear glasses. I’m not going to go too far but another thing is you have this limited field of vision. Your peripheral vision isn’t functioning.

Ongoing states of anxiety are possible because your visual cortex in your brain says, “I don’t know what’s coming out of here.” You could see almost 180 degrees but with glasses, you can’t. You may be more anxious as a person. You are going to be afraid of sports and physical interactions because you have no peripheral vision. If you have a contact lens is much less of an issue. What you experienced, though, is not that uncommon.

You can also Google Scholar corneal thinning. The cornea is the front of your eye. If you wear contacts for a long time, years and years, the cornea tends to thin. It’s not reversible. The cornea is the structure of your eyes, so that’s not a good thing. While you get better vision with contact lenses, you are affecting physical biology.

Your interaction with the world, personality, how you feel about yourself, your experience with the world, and your glasses affect all of these things. From your point of, “Are we going to spend less and less time in the world?” The longer I spend being on this topic, the more I realize that the key to not being shortsighted is to go out and play. Following that along, I’m like, “We stopped going outside, playing, and getting bored because we have instant gratification at all times with devices.” We stopped being creative because we stopped getting bored. We are more and more becoming these screen addicts, addicts to content consumption.

Go outside and put that screen down. Click To Tweet

It’s much of what you are touching upon that feeds into this natural human. Maybe it’s a combination of conditioning but also human nature. You mentioned instant gratification, wanting to put the least amount of work into something and be approved of, not wanting to feel excluded or different. We have these basic human needs and desires. It ties into all of this so we want that connection and community.

We want to feel like we are attractive. When I’m thinking back to that time when I was about sixteen years old and started wearing contacts, I was afraid of wearing glasses because of the things that you mentioned. I didn’t want to look like I was so nerdy. I didn’t want guys that I was interested in to think differently because I was wearing glasses, which is so silly. In the older years of my life, I recognize some people like the way glasses look on another person.

I now have a pair of glasses that I feel cool in and get complimented on. There are so many options. When I was sixteen, all I could think about was the downsides. I had this doctor who said, “Sure, you can wear contacts. You don’t have to wear glasses if you don’t want to.” Now you are sharing something with me that I wish I had known, which is the long-term consequences of wearing contacts all the time and how it took me a huge chunk of my life and the development of my eyes for someone to finally tell me, “These are not suitable for you. You shouldn’t be wearing these.”

I don’t even think that wearing contacts is an option that comes to mind but I am curious about LASIK. I wanted to go back to that. On your website, you probably have a lot of frequently asked questions, and these are things I’m sure you can search for in your Facebook Group. You must have addressed this on your blog. I don’t want to get too much into the redundancies for all your database of information but I would love to know some things about LASIK.

I’m a normal guy. I’m not into conspiracy stuff. I tune out when people go into things that aren’t fairly mainstream. I’m like, “I don’t have the brain space for this.” LASIK is one of those topics. There are a few but it’s one of those topics where I was like, “I can’t believe this is real.” I had a podcast. I have only ever had one guest on my podcast where we were not talking about vision improvement because of LASIK.

The man’s name is Dr. Morris Waxler. He’s the former Head of the FDA Surgical Devices Division who got LASIK approved. He is the man who put the stamp on LASIK. He’s 70 something years old. He’s got this white Einstein hair that goes all over the place. I highly recommend him as a guest. He’s a brilliant man. He is the real dude on the inside and will talk about LASIK. We had an hour conversation that I couldn’t believe because it’s not some guy, a divisive topic of, “He said, she said,” it’s an opinion. This is the man who got it approved, who was inside those offices, saw what testing went on, and says, “It’s the worst decision of his life.”

The thing that he will regret and should have never been approved is a terrible idea. It’s the man who got it approved himself. He spent an hour and sent me all the references upfront. None of it was idle speculation and a 30% chance of permanent drives, then he goes on. It’s amazing to hear from the man cutting your cornea, the structure of your eyes, significantly disrupted.

He goes, “You cut the nerves and have no pain sensation for the next year or so.” When the sensation comes back, you may have ongoing eye pain for who knows how long. He says, “We can’t tell you because that was not part of the FDA criteria. Two things were the criteria to get LASIK approved. One is you could read 20/20 on an eye chart, which doesn’t mean that you can see well. It’s that you can read the 20/20 line. Your eyeballs don’t fall out of your head.”

It was shocking. He said, “The LASIK surgeons have total cowboy attitudes.” They do whatever they want. They are using machines that weren’t even approved for LASIK or not intended for LASIK. The FDA had no real tests for what are the medical consequences of this procedure. It’s an FDA-approved thing that is absolutely a highly questionable thing. I’m not saying don’t do it. People were saying the comments, “My friend had LASIK, and it worked out great.” Of course, it will work out great for some 90% of people.

MGU 304 Jake Steiner | Better Eye Vision

Better Eye Vision: There were two criteria to getting LASIK approved. One, it had to make you read 20/20 on an eye chart. Two, your eyeballs shouldn’t fall out of your head.

 

When it doesn’t, the side effects may be unfixable and traumatic. He’s talking about suicides because of LASIK, again, former Head of FDA Surgical Division. I try to be cool and trust a system. I don’t want to turn into one of those fringe people that are tinfoil hats about everything. When I see approval by the FDA, I’m reminded of Morris Waxler going, “We didn’t know.”

Is that episode still up?

It was not removed. I’m still amazed that this happened, and the man is allowed to talk that he didn’t have an accident somewhere. The whole thing is amazing. I never expected the direct source to say this was a terrible idea. It’s an hour podcast. I’m not a good interviewer. I didn’t do it any justice but he held it together. Before you get LASIK, spend an hour listening to the guy who talks about it.

I feel like it’s horrific. I’m someone that, on some levels, I don’t get queasy at, faint, feel bad, uncomfortable around medical or things like that but there are some things when I hear it like this, I think about someone peeling away at my eye. I would have to be convinced to do that. I feel like that’s probably not a good sign when I hear how that works and the thought of looking up in some laser in my eye. It sounds like some sci-fi experiment is happening that’s horrific.

That flap that they caught may never heal. For example, if you fly fighter jets, you can have LASIK. The reason they say you can have LASIK is that the High G-forces can disturb that flap that never necessarily properly heals. You can dig into this topic and you are like, “How is this a thing, possibly?” Good mushrooms, bad mushrooms, we are living in a forest.

It’s that visceral reaction to it. It ties into the main theme here, which is how we can do things more naturally with less consequence? Over and over again, we are reminded as human beings that we have made things so complicated for convenience’s sake, superficial, and vanity reasons. There are pros and cons to it all. We are talking about Web3, the metaverse, and all of that. There are certainly going to be enjoyable elements of it. I don’t know if we can stop it.

I’m curious how you feel, Jake, about it feeling unstoppable to me, and that’s again why I’m trying to study it and understand what’s coming and what’s happening already. Many people are fearful of where technology is headed and how far it takes us from the natural. How do we spend more time in the natural world when it feels like there are so many temptations or it’s almost inescapable if we want to operate, connect with people? Another example of tying it into something relevant for me is I realized I had forgotten my friend’s birthday. It was the second friend in the past week. I feel like a horrible friend.

One of them I messaged on her birthday about something completely unrelated. She goes, “Today is my birthday.” I’m like, “I feel awful about this.” I’m a good calendar reminder person. I put these things on there, and I was thinking like, “How did I forget two of my close friends’ birthdays?” I realized it’s because I used to depend on Facebook to remind me because they have that great feature.

When you log into Facebook, it gives you a list of all your friends’ birthdays. You are like, “It’s easy. I can go type them a message.” Personally, I don’t spend that much time on Facebook. I’ve no longer got those messages and hadn’t added them to my calendar, so there was this gap. It had me thinking about how much I depended on a platform like Facebook for certain elements of my life.

If you're addicted to a thing that does you no good, no one will tell you. Click To Tweet

While I’m enjoying my life off of Facebook, it had some consequences socially. I have made some mistakes. I’m not as aware of what’s happening to my friends’ lives. Other friends have said to me, “How did you not know about this? I posted about it on Facebook.” It shows how so many people depend on Facebook, Instagram, and these other platforms to communicate and connect with one another. If you don’t use them for mental health reasons or whatever else has compelled you to get off social, you feel less connected to one another.

I have this idea, and I’m a bit of a hippie in some ways. I have had psychedelic experiences, and I’m open-minded to stuff. From that in particular, I have learned the value of shared reality. I’m not against the conspiracy angle of things and worldviews that are unusual but the value of shared reality. When you see a person wandering down the street, shouting and mumbling, their main problem is losing access to a shared reality.

If you do a bunch of LSD, you spend eight hours not having access to a shared reality, and then you get to appreciate the value of that. I’m always in the, “What is good for you on an individual level,” and because you need to be connected. I don’t do Facebook but I was at a restaurant, and I wanted to do my favorite thing. They are like, “That’s not today. You didn’t check Facebook.” Finding that balance, I need to be part of how humanity is moving and changing shared reality.

At the same time, the scrolling is not good for me. I’m going to have a personally chosen relationship with these things that may be don’t extend to where they want me to be on there, especially as we get older. I’m super conscious that people lose the neuroplasticity of going along with change. They lose the benefit of being part of society that has moved on. I’m cool with the metaverse idea because I don’t want to become excluded but at the same time, I’m cautious about how does this affects me and how much do I want to be in those things?

That makes me curious about how you have been thinking about this in terms of your future. You are a very data-minded person. You are collecting information about what’s happening in the transitions, the evolutions of things. Are you prepping yourself for the future in some ways? How do you stay more connected to nature with all of these technology-driven developments happening?

I’m living on a tiny island. I literally only own two pairs of flip-flops here. I have a little 100cc motorbike. I’m surrounded by hippies. I spent most of my time playing outside. We have a digital open mat thing. There are two hours of physically being with people in a contest of some kind and playing on the beach. My friends don’t play on phones.

I put myself in a space where I’m as removed from the things that I think are not good for me as possible. I also have a home in a big city. Half the time I spend in the big city where I’m very immersed in all the things and shopping malls but then I remove myself from that physical space and have this experience.

My big personal thing is I have kids. I want them to live in a way that there are outside enough of the system to appreciate it but also understand it as a system. Before I get into a huge monologue, TikTok in China, the Chinese government says, “It’s science clips, not influencers.” I’m not a fan of totalitarian governments but for once, they are putting the interest of the people seemingly ahead of the interest of promoting ads. There’s a way for all of this to benefit us but I don’t think we can rely on Mark Zuckerberg to be the guy to do things that are good for us.

That’s part of what I hear a lot about with Web3. It is with us being in Web2. That has very much been the experience of companies collecting our data, advertising to us, and making these decisions that have impacted us as consumers and users not being fully aware of things like the addictive properties, whereas Web3, at least as it’s hoped for, is more about the community connection and people making decisions for the collective good.

MGU 304 Jake Steiner | Better Eye Vision

Better Eye Vision: You need what is good for you on an individual level and what is good for you because you need to be connected. You have to find that balance of knowing what’s good for you and shared reality.

 

As you mentioned earlier, with Facebook changing their name to Meta focusing on the metaverse, they are obviously already gaining the leverage, and maybe they feel threatened. Mark Zuckerberg feels threatened because he sees so many people talking about how Facebook will be the thing of the past. He’s literally choosing to make the word Facebook no longer relevant.

It’s becoming meta. He’s trying to get ahead of the curve with the metaverse and find a way to get us in that world before we even realize it might not be great for us. There’s such a rabbit hole here. I’m trying not to get into the conspiracy as I’m trying to look at it from a more practical, personal, and professional standpoint.

That leads me to another question for you, Jake, is given the changes with the additions and adaptations of cryptocurrency and NFTs, these are the buzzwords now that are becoming a huge part of branding, marketing, and how companies operate. What are you thinking about in terms of your professional relationship with these changes? You listed out how you are working on this personally but what about your career and work?

Everything that is going on in life is 50/50. There’s amazing potential. Cryptocurrency could change the level of control governments have over us. Fiat money, paper money, all currency that has ever existed has gone to zero at some point in relatively short periods. There’s no paper money that exists, has existed, and still exists a few decades. Money trends towards zero because governments print more of it. It’s a promissory note.

It’s not real. The idea is that you would have something like Bitcoin that is not under the control of a bank or an entity that has other motives for it. It can’t be made more of that can be shared in ways, instantly and immediately between people all across the world. It’s a massive game-changer. It’s like the internet allows us to have peer-to-peer conversations, news, and health stuff.

It’s a huge opportunity for humans to become less dependent on the old model of I rule all of you, and this is necessary. I thought that was amazing. I’m a big nerd. Back in the day, I bought a bunch, and it made me a ridiculous amount of money in the process. I certainly don’t have to talk about eyesight to make a living. Is it going to go there? I don’t know. We live in this time when there’s too much hyper on this. Please, don’t gamble on cryptocurrencies.

We are living in an age where if humanity is an organism, it’s given a new set of tools to evolve its relationship to each other significantly. We are sitting in the middle of it and don’t know how it’s going to turn out. It could be a better world. Nuclear fusion has made a huge advancement, longevity is going to be a big thing, and we are going to connect differently. Maybe a different way to exchange value or governments may crush it.

That unknown is very uncomfortable. For me, I recognize my pattern of coping is trying to plan as much as possible. I feel like this is unknown. I’m trying to know it. How can I predict it? I realized through the process that you can’t at this point, and it’s all people’s opinions and random predictions, and who knows? I’m also curious about your perspective on this. Having so much history as a stock trader, working in the financial world and investing or even that term, I don’t think it applies to cryptocurrency in the way that we think of it. You decided to purchase or acquire Bitcoin. When did you get it out of curiosity?

I have done this for a very long time, and I didn’t expect it. It wasn’t an investment. That’s where things should be going. It wasn’t that big of a deal. The long story because I do a lot of international stuff, it’s a useful way to transact or move assets from one place to another. Unless you are laundering money or functioning exactly in a set of rules, it’s very difficult to use the banking system effectively. This was a whole new way of going, “It’s mine.” You earned value. It should be yours but it’s not. You take it to a bank, and then they go, “We are going to verify where it came from and your identity if you gave enough governments, enough taxes on it, and then maybe we will give it back to you.”

The key to not being short shortsighted is to go out and play. Click To Tweet

The idea of you and me exchanging something yet. Could you sell me your headphones? I give you value. You don’t have anything because once you take it to the bank, it’s the bank. Maybe they will give it back to you. The government prints more of that value that we exchanged. All of a sudden, you have less of that. I thought it was an amazing thing. I was a fan of that direction that is now we don’t know where it’s going.

It’s super important for my own mental health to unplug and disconnect and be traditional in, “I’m going to ride a motorbike near a beach, practice some jiu-jitsu, and going to have this simple interaction because I can’t predict the future. I’m going to appreciate it for a moment and enjoy it but I’m not going to obsess or become overly immersed in some of it. Maybe I’m old.

It seems like you are living such an ideal lifestyle with all these decisions, the way you are outlining it. Some of it is luck or being fortunate. One of my big regrets is that I did not buy Bitcoin years ago when I first heard of it. At the time, it didn’t appeal to me. Had I bought $1 or $10 worth of it, I would be in a very fortunate financial position from a very small risk back then. What’s part of this unknown is that there’s so much that we can do and decide for ourselves. We have no idea where things are going to go. Some people, myself included, can feel unsettling but the present moment as you described, is so key, flowing with it all.

That thinking is super unfortunate. We are in this hype thing with FOMO and could have bought Apple stock. You would have made a crap ton of money. You could have bought Tesla stock and made ridiculous amounts of money. Crypto went more than other things but there were certainly many opportunities that unpredictably were incredibly lucrative. I know guys that only invest in things that they believe are going to be 10 times to 100 times the value.

There are obscure plays like oil refineries that would have made you 50 times your money in a span of 3 or 4 years. To me, crypto is not that interesting. It’s the most hyped. Looking back in time is not healthy because of all the ways I could have made money, knowing the past and being in the future, you go, “It was endless and missed it.” We are still in that time. Tomorrow, some biotech will blow up or some this or that, and you are going to go out and miss that. I don’t think there’s any mental health benefit in going, “I wish I would have bought Bitcoin.”

It’s one of those things I have to steer myself away from for all the reasons. Fortunately, I have had the fortune of Tesla and Apple stocks on my side in some ways. Those were good things that I never knew were going to pay off in the way that they have. There’s always that trade-off. This has been so interesting. We were talking about looking back. Your perspective on vision is not about the biology of it.

You also have such fascinating perspectives, a vision, and a hope for the present and the future. There are different levels to how vision has played out in your life that make you such a fascinating person. I’m so grateful for this conversation. Is the Facebook Group open for anyone? If the reader wants to go join in and be connected in there, they can click and join.

Everything is open to everyone. We have a big forum too that was publicly accessible but I closed. They are invited occasionally. It’s much bigger than the Facebook Group but people expressed discomfort with Google indexing and having all the conversations out in the open. It’s interesting if your eyesight is not a big topic because you are like pop on these glasses and I’m fine. If you want a core self-experiment, you can improve your eyesight dramatically and predictably, and tens of thousands of people have done it.

It’s super empowering to understand a little bit of how biology and lenses work. Realize you can measure your eyesight by yourself at home very easily. You can buy glasses with whatever power you want, the only prescriptions because millions of dollars were in lobbying. That is another big crock. Lenses cost $2 to $5 wholesale. Paying hundreds of dollars is a giant rip-off but you can explore all these things and have your own little nerdy experiment that will pay off in you to being able to observe having increasingly better eyesight.

I’m not talking about eye exercises and all the fluffy stuff that’s on the internet but literally measurable change. Every 3 to 4 months, you can buy a lower pair of glasses, and you are going to see equally well with them. It’s empowering to go, “I have control over certain things in biology, and I can improve. I can be 40, 70, 15 and change what I see in the world. That tends to give people more agency in going, “What else can I do?”

While you might not care about eyesight, you will have an interesting journey. You are going to have to question your recreational screen, use a bit and go, and maybe I should find a new hobby to use distance vision. I’m biased because this is my topic but it’s a huge opportunity to have an entry point into affecting how you perceive yourself and see the world in a super fun experimental way.

You have definitely inspired me because I don’t think I fully touched upon when I was talking about the blue blockers is that myself and many others can know what feels good, they should do, and feel like is best for them but there are so many temptations. Especially with all this technology in our addictions, our human nature, we can get drawn into something. It’s like Coke Zero when you write up that example.

It’s like if you know that it tastes good, people could tell you as much information about how that might not be good for your health. You know it tastes good and wants that instant gratification. You drink it despite the other knowledge that you have. For me, I will use TikTok, which is my entertainment source. I have heard all these different things about TikTok and concerns about it but I would like to push them aside because it feels good for me to utilize TikTok.

Not only am I on a platform that’s designed around instant gratification but I’m sitting there holding my phone for however long it is. You have inspired me to find another reason to lessen my time and become more aware. I feel motivated thinking about your life and what it’s like to be on an island wearing flip-flops, hanging out with other people that aren’t on their phones, and how that’s increasingly important for me, too. Spend time with people who aren’t sitting there, scrolling their phone in the middle of a conversation, and texting somebody else when you are in the middle of connecting with them.

We have dinners where I’m like, “I will pay for dinner for everybody but the rule is nobody brings a phone.”

It's important for your mental health to disconnect. Click To Tweet

That’s a good rule. The other one that I hear so much about is where everyone has to put their phone in the middle of the table, and the first person to touch their phone has to pay. Maybe it’s even more motivating if they know ahead of time like, “These are the rules.” I have thought about events and things like that. They are so nice, which is rare. There was one that I went to where you had to put your phone in like this special bag. They had a whole team of people that locked them up securely but you had to go into the event without your phone.

It was like a bag check but for your phones. I thought that it’s great because we don’t always have the willpower to ignore a text or check our email or all those times, where you go into a social setting, and for a second of boredom, you reach for your phone, and suddenly you are completely disconnected from everyone else there in person.

It’s incredibly addictive. We ignore people who have never had a drug addiction or a real addiction that they battled and won don’t understand that this is the exact same thing. It’s an addiction. It’s for everybody. There’s no beating this one. This one is going to be an ongoing thing but it’s finding other things to tempt you and realize this is a treat, not a replacement for living your life. I play on my phone for sure but I also realize the value of boredom because boredom leads to creativity.

People work for a while, and then you are going to go, “What else can I do?” Whatever experience you have that arises from boredom, I promise you, and it’s going to be more lasting and interesting than whatever you scroll through on TikTok. Nobody tells us these things because they don’t benefit. It’s the people who sell us all this stuff.

That’s inspiring me, too. I did an experiment earlier in 2021, where I didn’t use any electronics aside from basic or at least at the time felt I needed to use the lights or something. I tried to turn off everything I possibly could within reason for 24 hours. It was enlightening because I realized how my brain would immediately feel bored. I sat with that boredom and let it pass.

We have a chessboard here, and I don’t want to play chess. It hurts my brain to think that much but don’t have my phone around for an hour. You are like, “Yeah, I guess.”

Reading a book, and then for me, there was another level there. I was like, “This is easy. I will go read it.” I recognize that I use eBooks most of the time. I went and picked up a physical book instead and read that, have the experience of turning a page and how different that is from using technology to read. It was so revealing because sometimes we don’t even recognize how much we are dependent on devices and electronics for pleasure and connection.

We have to be more purposeful about it. I love that this conversation was initially about vision from your eyesight perspective but it encapsulates so many elements of life. You gave me all this perspective about what I see plays such a bigger role in my life that I’m even conscious of. I’m so grateful for that.

MGU 304 Jake Steiner | Better Eye Vision

Better Eye Vision: It’s really empowering for people to have control over certain things in biology. To improve and change the way they see the world. This tends to give them more agency in what they’re doing.

 

I don’t feel like I deserve any credit, and I’m not the guy. I’m just a guy but we are shortsighted in literal and all the ways, so much of the time.

That is a good word for this. What’s the opposite of shortsighted?

It’s far-sighted. You can’t see clearly up close. That’s another thing.

It’s a good metaphor to reflect on. I will be thinking about it. I imagine our reader will as well. I’m grateful for you being here, Jake. I want to release you from our virtual connection, so you can go connect in person with whoever is part of your life and move forward. I imagine you stepping out into the world and taking in the island. That even makes me feel good thinking about you doing that.

Please enjoy the rest of your day. Thank you so much for being here. Thank you to the reader for tuning in. As much as Jake is humble, he has certainly made a big impact. I want to make sure that you can continue on the journey of learning and feeling inspired alongside him. I hope that you enjoy digging deeper into this. Thanks again, Jake. Enjoy the rest of your day.

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About Jake Steiner

MGU 304 Jake Steiner | Better Eye VisionJake Steiner is a (semi-retired) stock trader and investor. His personal passion is understanding human eyesight – and has spent the past 20 years in vision biology science, exploring nearsightedness prevention and reversal methods.
Jake hosts the Web’s largest vision improvement community with many tens of thousands of participants and has written over 1,200 articles on vision biology and myopia control.