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Experience in healing eyesight on the Paleo diet

by (3700)
Answered on July 23, 2015
Created July 08, 2010 at 2:38 AM

I see so many people today wearing glasses, it's not even funny. There's no way that our natural state is for a great proportion of people to see fuzzy, it's just not good for hunting and survival to me.

I realize that a lot of this is probably due to long hours of straining TV and computer use, but there must be a dietary dimension to that as well.

As anyone noticed better eyesight since going the Paleo path? I think it's kind of sad that someone would be stuck wearing glasses for all is life because bad dietary choices and it would be nice to be able to tell people that chances are that it is reversible after all.

1c0aedabf44b6ac40db8cf880b762c7a
0 · March 23, 2014 at 1:08 PM

and now?

1c0aedabf44b6ac40db8cf880b762c7a
0 · March 23, 2014 at 1:07 PM

how are your kids eyes now?

1c0aedabf44b6ac40db8cf880b762c7a
0 · March 23, 2014 at 1:07 PM

how are your eyes now?

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665 · September 21, 2012 at 1:50 AM

I think explanation is more simple - afghan insurgents are untrained emotional savages, while sharpshooting requires cold mind and a lot of training.

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6239 · April 11, 2012 at 2:18 PM

define significant? What was your prescription pre-Paleo and post? Cordain has written on blood sugar and myopia so that might be the answer.

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8923 · November 09, 2011 at 1:29 PM

Mine too. Not because my eyesight was bad, but because hypoglycemia makes you see fuzzy.

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2269 · November 09, 2011 at 1:56 AM

Nope. Presbyopia honors no diet. Diminishing eyesight is as far as I'm concerned a side effect of long life. I look forward to inch-thick lenses by my 70th birthday. Whee. BTW, if you do experience rapid onset of presbyopia in your 40s, relax; it seems to get horribly worse, then it'll just stop. I was replacing very expensive bifocal lenses every 12-18 months for about six years, but it seems to have settled down now.

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24553 · August 22, 2011 at 10:36 PM

So true about the hormones. I made the mistake of shopping for new glasses 2 months after having a baby because it seemed like my prescription had changed. Those glasses only worked for me for about a month until my hormones shifted again and the old glasses were the correct ones for me again.

33ca64a09412bed1b47b85a4f1ac6a27
150 · May 09, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Me too. Much easier to drive at night than it used to be. I always got plenty of Vitamin A, so I think it's something else...was wondering if it was Vitamin D (I started supplementing at the same time that I changed my diet), or the fat content of my diet (more saturated fat, better Omega 3/6 balance).

8f4ff12a53a98f3b5814cfe242de0daa
1065 · May 09, 2011 at 5:35 AM

Vitamin A / beta-carotene is required for night vision. Though it is kind of hard to be deficient on that.

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164 · February 01, 2011 at 2:01 PM

I have a terrible stigmatism, not from poor diet, probably did not help, Haven't seen any change yet.

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5227 · February 01, 2011 at 7:23 AM

I found this article to be very interesting. I shared it with my optometrist. As somebody who got her first pair of glasses when she was thirteen, I definitely think that it would be great if we could prevent/reverse juvenile onset myopia with diet. :)

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56606 · February 01, 2011 at 2:42 AM

My eyesight has gotten better :)

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4563 · October 26, 2010 at 5:42 PM

Hey, Dan, thx! So far, so good, with Fritz at 6 months old now, all is good and we are happy with the progress. The little guy is still on mother's milk, with the occasional mashed up yams, cream, butter, egg yolk, chicken, beef etc. Grain is the "baby's first food" mantra is good to have beaten down.

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801 · October 26, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Good luck with your baby! It's probably impossible to find a paleo pediatrician, but try to find an open-minded one, at least.

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803 · October 24, 2010 at 5:41 PM

Maybe that's true for those born with bad eyes, but I remember the morning when I woke up to find my vision was noticeably worse. The optional glasses I'd had since 7th grade for minor nearsightedness were now obligatory in high school.

A2b3aae02c752c001ccba49f41b50a08
40 · October 06, 2010 at 9:17 PM

As a follow-up, I note that in the succeeding months I have gotten very busy and been largely unable to "train my eyes" (practice looking at things far away), but I continue to get clear flashes, especially when I have slept well.

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3700 · July 28, 2010 at 10:43 PM

Well I certainly wish for you that those moments of clarity become more and more frequent or even permanent.

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3700 · July 12, 2010 at 8:42 AM

This is very interesting indeed. I hope for you that your vision will improve even further!

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2520 · July 11, 2010 at 4:34 AM

I've left my own response, but I certainly believe now that my myopia may well have been triggered by glucose/insulin excesses, like my other problems.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e
4563 · July 08, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Yah, the tissues in the eye can't become insulin resistant, so they are swept full of blood glucose. Diabetes and blindness go hand in hand! Pity that article never mentions reduction of blood sugar through reduction of carbs as a strategy.

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35 Answers

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2520 · July 11, 2010 at 4:31 AM

I have a blog post in the pipeline about my own experience, but I'm still waiting on some figures so for now I'll give you an outline. I'd be very surprised if diet could influence genetic eye defects and other issues that are linked to actual damage. However, I was diagnosed with myopia (short-sightedness) when I was 19-ish, and was told that this was the 'normal' age to need glasses for about a third of the population. Like so many of these 'normal' statistics, it certainly makes you wonder whether the cause may well be a lifestyle issue rather than something that was just bound to happen to most of us. Hunters would be in big trouble if a third of the tribe could no longer trust their vision not long after reaching reproductive age.

I've worn glasses for 6 years, getting new glasses every one or two years, accompanied by an eye test. The testing reported that each eye had a slightly different issue, and was getting slightly worse at different rates.

My latest test, a month ago? My first test since going Primal?

The vision in my right eye has improved significantly, and although my left still prefers the same prescription, it shows signs of having strengthened as well. My optometrist was pretty gobsmacked, telling me that she'd never had anyone's vision improve this acutely. She asked whether I'd been doing eye exercises or made any other changes, and I told her that I had cut out grains and sugar. She was excited by this and promised that she would get in touch with experts in her field to find out whether any other reports or research existed to explain my results.

I'm not hoping necessarily for further improvement - I'm certainly not holding my breath than eating paleo foods is going to reverse teen-onset myopia completely! - but knowing that perhaps my vision will not continue to worsen over the course of my life, the fate otherwise promised to me, is an absolute blessing. Yet another reason to tack onto the list of why one should never consume grains and sugars.

9bc6f3df8db981f67ea1465411958c8d
3700 · July 12, 2010 at 8:42 AM

This is very interesting indeed. I hope for you that your vision will improve even further!

8508fec4bae4a580d1e1b807058fee8e
6239 · April 11, 2012 at 2:18 PM

define significant? What was your prescription pre-Paleo and post? Cordain has written on blood sugar and myopia so that might be the answer.

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6239 · November 08, 2011 at 11:15 PM

Not to burst anybody's bubble but there can be statistical fluctuations.

I tried eye exercises and those books that claim to get rid of glasses when I hit puberty and got glasses (low prescription that time). It didn't work for me. I was a bookworm devouring 1 novel per day(Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, etc.) so looking back I'm sure that contributed to my myopia.

I did do some VT - vision therapy and vision training to help with eyestrain at near/computer work which did help subjectively and objectively (measured with prisms). My mother did the same. But neither of us eliminated our glasses.

There are some genes involved with myopia. I do believe in epigenetics - gene interaction with the environment so I don't think everyone is doomed by their genes.

In my experience, a change within +/- 0.50 in one or both eyes is common from year to year because the refraction for glasses is subjective - and even objective measurements like an autorefractor can have more fluctuation then that!

You could have been slightly overcorrected (sometimes by an entire 1.00 diopter in each eye) in the past. Sometimes when people change eye doctors, this is corrected.

I would also like to see someone cured without refractive surgery (LASIK, and the like) from -3.00 D to 0 (no prescription) in their glasses.

That being said, it seems that Vitamin D and being outdoors affects myopia!

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/21/opinion/21wang.html?_r=1&src=rechp

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/752152?src=mp&spon=36

Now high insulin levels can affect myopia. There are other issues that high-carb, glucose, and insulin negatively affect the eye.

http://www.thehealthierlife.co.uk/natural-health-articles/eyesight/myopia-high-carbohydrate-diet-increase-risk-00750.html

Illiterate and less-educated populations have much lower myopia rates vs. more educated and literate populations as shown in China (rural vs. urban) and Israel (Orthodox vs. Reform Jews - the former have to memorize and read a lot more of their holy texts). This is even in populations that share much of the same genes, suggesting the environment of constant near work (computer and reading which was never part of our evolutionary history) and perhaps less sunlight/Vitamin D contributes to myopia.

I think it maybe easier to prevent (especially before the age 18) myopia then to change it afterwards. However, I could happily be proven wrong - track your glasses prescriptions!

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840 · July 08, 2010 at 3:39 AM

Keep in mind that we use our eyes very differently from paleo people: we read things close-up.

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4563 · July 08, 2010 at 3:35 AM

The structure of the skull, eye orbits, sinus, jaw, and eyes themselves are set pretty early in development. Reading a bit of Weston Price will point that out abundantly! It seems that a poor diet (in our mother's womb, and in early infancy through our teen years) can certainly set us up for poor vision, poor tooth health, etc. That stuff is set pretty solidly and a return to our natural paleo nutrition isn't going to fix it.

I've got a 10 week old baby boy, that I am trying to set up for the best future with all this in mind. Seems about 75% of my family and my wife's family require corrective lenses. Time will tell if we can reverse this course a bit with our little guy and proper foods.

D13278772f6612432bf53413fad4e7af
801 · October 26, 2010 at 11:24 AM

Good luck with your baby! It's probably impossible to find a paleo pediatrician, but try to find an open-minded one, at least.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e
4563 · October 26, 2010 at 5:42 PM

Hey, Dan, thx! So far, so good, with Fritz at 6 months old now, all is good and we are happy with the progress. The little guy is still on mother's milk, with the occasional mashed up yams, cream, butter, egg yolk, chicken, beef etc. Grain is the "baby's first food" mantra is good to have beaten down.

1c0aedabf44b6ac40db8cf880b762c7a
0 · March 23, 2014 at 1:07 PM

how are your kids eyes now?

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40 · September 24, 2010 at 6:48 PM

I had my eyes tested a few months ago. Pre-paleo, my contact lens prescription was -8.5/-7.5. I usually get tested every two years and it had been at this prescription since my early 20's (I'm in my 30's now). After a year of eating paleo, my new prescription is -7.5/-7.0. I guess it's possible my optometrist was way off in the new assessment of my eyes so I'm interested in seeing what happens when I go for my next eye test.

1c0aedabf44b6ac40db8cf880b762c7a
0 · March 23, 2014 at 1:07 PM

how are your eyes now?

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40 · July 28, 2010 at 5:58 PM

Since going Paleo, I have taken to wearing glasses less often (on the computer mostly; also when I drive, a pretty rare event). My eyesight has been pretty "bad" ever since I started wearing glasses at the age of 11 or 12. My left eye clocks in at something like 20/80, and the right is a woeful 20/300 (or worse; I am quoting numbers from years ago from memory). With less time wearing glasses, I have noticed that I get unexpected moments of clarity. Today, on the way to work, I looked up the road and read street signs that are ordinarily just fuzzy blurs. I was not squinting or misshaping my eyeballs or trying anything (not consciously, anyway). Things just snapped into place for a minute, then faded back too normal. These moments of clarity have been coming more frequently (and lasting longer) since I started noticing them a while ago. If I could reach a point where they would last indefinitely, I could probably get rid of my glasses! But who knows whether that will happen. For me, the jury is still out on how much of my problem is environmental (and therefore correctable without the easy solution that manufactured lenses provide).

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3700 · July 28, 2010 at 10:43 PM

Well I certainly wish for you that those moments of clarity become more and more frequent or even permanent.

A2b3aae02c752c001ccba49f41b50a08
40 · October 06, 2010 at 9:17 PM

As a follow-up, I note that in the succeeding months I have gotten very busy and been largely unable to "train my eyes" (practice looking at things far away), but I continue to get clear flashes, especially when I have slept well.

1c0aedabf44b6ac40db8cf880b762c7a
0 · March 23, 2014 at 1:08 PM

and now?

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1435 · July 09, 2010 at 8:36 PM

I've pondered this one a bit and haven't come up with any good answers. I'll try to find the link, but I saw an article a couple of months ago about why US soldiers do so much better in firefights against Afghan insurgents, despite (or sometimes because of) the insurgents' incredible fortitude. Among many factors was the incredibly poor eyesight of the Afghanis, most of whom were illiterate and had never used computers. So I'm not sure our modern lifestyle is necessarily is to blame for poor far-field vision.

This still leaves open dietary causes for long-term eyesight degradation, because the Afghanis probably have a fairly typical grain and rice-based diet.

But from an evolutionary perspective, it seems strange that the performance of our eyes over time is so poor. Puzzling for sure.

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665 · September 21, 2012 at 1:50 AM

I think explanation is more simple - afghan insurgents are untrained emotional savages, while sharpshooting requires cold mind and a lot of training.

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2387 · July 08, 2010 at 7:26 AM

I read about an insulin-eyesight connection several times in the past but the only link I found doing a quick search was this one: http://www.rnib.org.uk/eyehealth/eyeconditions/eyeconditionsdn/Pages/diabetes.aspx

1f70da0b737e9c6e7679a248f4228a01
2520 · July 11, 2010 at 4:34 AM

I've left my own response, but I certainly believe now that my myopia may well have been triggered by glucose/insulin excesses, like my other problems.

0d2dec01a5ed9363a9915e111ae13f7e
4563 · July 08, 2010 at 12:48 PM

Yah, the tissues in the eye can't become insulin resistant, so they are swept full of blood glucose. Diabetes and blindness go hand in hand! Pity that article never mentions reduction of blood sugar through reduction of carbs as a strategy.

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446 · December 09, 2011 at 12:02 AM

I have come to the question a little late, but I have been paleo for nine months and am starting to notice that I am taking my glasses off a lot or not putting them on first thing in a morning.

Now this is unusual. I was, at my last test, 5.25 in one and 5.75 in another. My eyesight is normally very poor, but it is definately a lot sharper now than it has been for years. I can actually walk around my house fairly safely.

Interestingly, I did notice odd flashes of clarity (never experienced anything like this in twenty years of needing glasses) about three months ago, and it seemed to correlate to me eating more steak.

Oddly, the consistent sharpness (rather than odd flashes) seems to date to the point I started taking cod liver oil about a month ago.

And I will say ... since I have been taking cod liver oil, I have noticed some very odd physical and mental "adjustments".

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20 · February 24, 2011 at 1:53 AM

Ive been paleo for a month now. I was diognosed with shortsightedness about 3 years ago and told there was no way to reverse the damage-only to slow it down. Since the diet change I have noticed a small improvment latley, im also finding it is easier to focus on far away objects. In a few months I'm going to get retested to confirm.

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20 · February 01, 2011 at 2:29 AM

I have been paleo for one month now and the very first thing I noticed about three day in was my vision being clearer. At first I thought I just must have got good sleep and was actually refreshed. Then over the next two or three day I felt the same way and was in awe of how clear things looked. I told my wife after about a week and she just gave me a look like YEAH OK (she is not full paleo yet). In talking to my dad who also began paleo the same time as I did he asked if I had felt anything from doing paleo. I began to explain my eye sight changes and he cut me off and said the same exact things as I did. He didn???t tell anyone of his vision change because he felt no one would believe him. It was to cool to have someone else understand what I going to explain. So in my opinion cutting out sugars/carbs has defiantly had a positive impact on our vision???among other things.

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1303 · September 27, 2010 at 11:13 PM

It's very possible that diet plays into eye health one way or another. I know for a fact that hormones can affect eye sight. I have PCOS and was taking birth control for it a few years ago, which normalized my hormones. My vision improved quite a bit while I was taking the pills, but then I stopped taking them (trying to get pregnant) and my vision worsened again. I started paying attention to what I eat and my last check up showed that my vision had improved again.

So, it may or may not be nutrition directly affecting vision, but if not then it may be affecting hormones (insulin being one of many that can affect vision) which in turn is affecting vision.

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24553 · August 22, 2011 at 10:36 PM

So true about the hormones. I made the mistake of shopping for new glasses 2 months after having a baby because it seemed like my prescription had changed. Those glasses only worked for me for about a month until my hormones shifted again and the old glasses were the correct ones for me again.

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801 · September 25, 2010 at 10:42 PM

I think the reason so many people wear glasses these days is a function of natural selection. In hunter-gatherer days, those with poor vision as children just didn't reproduce at the same rate because they weren't successful hunters -- or they became some predator's lunch! A village lifestyle, and later, corrective lenses, eliminated poor vision as an evolutionary negative, so those genes spread. If this is the case, then hoping that dietary changes reverse this is probably wishful thinking.

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803 · October 24, 2010 at 5:41 PM

Maybe that's true for those born with bad eyes, but I remember the morning when I woke up to find my vision was noticeably worse. The optional glasses I'd had since 7th grade for minor nearsightedness were now obligatory in high school.

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5516 · July 08, 2010 at 1:34 PM

I have experienced a percieved increase in night vision capabilities. I wonder if that's from more vitamins/minerals from eating more plant matter.

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1065 · May 09, 2011 at 5:35 AM

Vitamin A / beta-carotene is required for night vision. Though it is kind of hard to be deficient on that.

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150 · May 09, 2011 at 5:29 PM

Me too. Much easier to drive at night than it used to be. I always got plenty of Vitamin A, so I think it's something else...was wondering if it was Vitamin D (I started supplementing at the same time that I changed my diet), or the fat content of my diet (more saturated fat, better Omega 3/6 balance).

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10299 · July 08, 2010 at 10:52 AM

A paper of interest by Cordain et al here on juvenile onset myopia

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5227 · February 01, 2011 at 7:23 AM

I found this article to be very interesting. I shared it with my optometrist. As somebody who got her first pair of glasses when she was thirteen, I definitely think that it would be great if we could prevent/reverse juvenile onset myopia with diet. :)

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5001 · July 08, 2010 at 7:32 AM

I have found an improvement - not huge, but significant. I'm 57 y/o, didn't need glasses until 4 years ago and then only for reading / close work, and the weakest you can buy here in the UK (is it 1.25?)

I have found over the past 4 or so months that I can read the newspaper, books etc without needing glasses (simply because I realised I was no longer putting them on!) in good daylight. Cloudy, or in the evening - then I reach for the glasses.

Not a vast improvement - but useful! Also, it helps in restaurants - one less thing to need / forget!

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1906 · November 09, 2011 at 8:03 PM

I've never had a strong prescription, but use contacts and occasionally glasses for distance. I've had the same prescription for years with no changes, and was happy that my eyesight was at least stable. After about a year on paleo, my eyesight in both eyes improved, so my doctor prescribed new contact lenses that were weaker.

Given the information out there, my guess is that the improvement could be insulin related, or because of supplemental vitamin D. Whatever it is, the only major change in my lifestyle was moving to a paleo diet, especially since I've spent the last couple years sitting in front of a computer more than in the preceding years.

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65 · November 09, 2011 at 1:12 AM

I dont use glasses, but i think i have become better at focusing quickly between objects at different distances. Im also quite sure that can look further now. These things off course can also be the result of altered brain chemistry. For example can prolonged periods of stress affect ones ability to focus and create "visual snow". One thing i am sure off is that my eyes have become more vivid to look at; there is more contrast between the different shades in the eyes and im certain my limbal rings have become darker, which is the most interesting if true. Limbal rings are an age and health indicator which as far as i have learned only fades as we age. It wouldn't surprise me if paleo could lower my biological age when seen in the perspective of all the other great things living in a non-conventional healthy way has done to me. More about limbal rings here: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/love-sex-and-babies/201104/how-big-is-your-limbal-ring

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260 · October 15, 2011 at 12:52 AM

Just returned from my eye doctor. I've been prescribed -0.75 in each eye consistently each year since 2006. This jan I had my eye exam -0.75 in right and -0.75 -0.50 (estigmatism) in the left. I started paleo mid June, 4 months ago. Like I said I just got back from the eye doctor, after 5 years my prescription has changed!! I'm now -0.50 in each eye with a bit of estigmatism in my left eye but not enough to correct.

The only thing that's changed is paleo! :D

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0 · July 23, 2015 at 1:01 AM

Myopia Epidemic

In addition to the issues listed above there may be a few other considerations.

Micronutrients
Traditional diets contain many times the amounts of nutrients of our modern diets. This has been observed in contemporary hunter gatherer communities by scientists like Weston A Price, and Staffan Lindeberg, and does not rely on extrapolating data on how people were believed to subsist several millennia ago, although this data also correlates. Malnutrition has been a problem throughout human history, including in paleolithic times (ice ages and starvation appear to go hand in hand, and parasites don't necessarily always improve gut health). Despite this our paleolithic ancestors and modern hunter gatherers appear to have enviable skeletal and muscle development, dentition and a resistance to the diseases of modern civilisation, eg autoimmunity, cancer, acne, obesity, heart disease, infertility, etc. No-one has ever found a paleolithic specimen wearing glasses ;-)

The differences in nutritional content were evident even before the introduction of the disastrously poorly conceived current dietary recommendations which saw their first iteration in the second half of the twentieth century. We have been advised to eschew natural traditional foods containing cholesterol, saturated/animal fats, red meat and salt, in favour of low fat dairy, other low fat foods, whole grains, synthetic foods and sweeteners and highly processed and refined vegetable seed oils containing high levels of trans fats and oxidised short chain polyunsaturated omega 6 fats. Our intake of fat soluble vitamins and nutrients has plummeted as a result. We have been encouraged to believe that soybean oil, rapeseed oil, canola, flaxseed and sunflower oil are the dietary equivalent of eating fish regularly (increase your intake of polyunsaturated fats indiscriminately). I am not sure what sort of alchemy these people are able to perform, however I have never been able to create a fish out of vegetable oil, and I suspect that the last time that sort of miracle was performed was about 2 000 years ago! We have also been warned about the dangers of eating liver (synthetic vitamin A, but not dietary liver, was associated with a slight increase in birth defects in 1 study which has not been replicated. Increasing vitamin A intake appears to exacerbate a vitamin D deficiency - I would have thought that the solution would be to make sure you aren't vitamin D deficient and not be overly concerned about the dietary liver. You probably should not eat too much polar bear liver). We have also been advised to get our vitamin A from carotenoids, despite the fact that the conversion from beta carotene to vitamin A is a multi step process which requires excellent health and cannot occur efficiently in the presence of diabetes or thyroid disease. In addition around 50% of people of European origin are lacking one of the genes for this conversion. (It's not a coincidence that retina and retinol sound similar). And good luck making thyroid hormone without vitamin A, which is necessary for the uptake of iodine into the thyroid gland.

We are advised about the dangers of bone broths (lead poisoning), but other sources of lead aren't mentioned, eg old pipes, paint and soil, old vinyl and plastics, china and ceramics. Toxic artificial sweeteners, which are known to release formaldehyde at body temperature and alter gut flora, and which contain irritant excitotoxins, are encouraged in order to cut calories. The dangers of eating predatory fish are presented due to mercury content (this actually seems to be quite sensible). We are advised to eat foods supplemented with synthetic foods, eg folic acid, cyanocobalamin, synthetic vitamin A, synthetic vitamin E. However, depending on our methylation status, a large proportion of us cannot convert folic acid into biologically useful folates; cyanocobalamin requires hydroxocobalamin to detoxify the cyanide which makes this sort of vitamin B12 almost useless; synthetic vitamin A when not balanced with its usual cofactors which are found in natural food sources (including zinc, vitamin D, vitamin K2, calcium and magnesium) can result in vitamin A toxicity (which looks an awful lot like vitamin D deficiency); and synthetic vitamin E tends to contain isolated esterified alpha tocopherol which has been associated with heart failure and haemorrhagic stroke, and may even increase the risk of prostate cancer.

Traditional diets include nose to tail eating, an incredibly wide variety of vegetables, fruit, nuts and seeds, with some legumes and even some grains. In short, traditional foods include a number of super foods. A few of these are worth a mention. Liver and kidneys boast a stellar content of nutrients, including vitamins A and D, C, B12 and other B vitamins, selenium, zinc, copper, iron and a host of antioxidants and glutathione precursors. Interestingly a study done in Europe comparing the content of known pesticides found that conventional fruit and veg contained far more pesticide residues than conventional liver. Liver detoxifies toxins, but immediately transports them out into the blood and bile so that they can be eliminated by other organs, or stored in fatty tissues. Meaty bone broths which include joints and marrow bones contain the amino acid glycine, which is necessary for healthy connective tissue and gut health, whereas muscle meat is an excellent source of methionine which is necessary for methylation. Heart contains very high levels of coenzyme Q, which is an important antioxidant and improves mitochondrial function. The eyes are sometimes thought of as extensions of the brain via the optic nerve, and eyes and brain have similar biochemical contents. Brains are an excellent source of long chain omega fats including DHA, EPA and AA, as well as phospatidyl serine and other nutrients, but are unlikely to be seen gracing a modern dinner table.

Traditional cultures also relied heavily on fermented foods which supply beneficial microbes, prebiotics, short chain fatty acids, vitamins and other nutrients. What they did not have was pasteurization, homogenization of dairy products (resulting in damaged oxidised polyunsaturated fats), fastidious cleaning regimens using toxic chemicals or microwaves which can sterilize foods. Of course they didn't have fridges or freezers either (I bet they would love ice cream!)

A couple of nutrients deserve a mention. Other people have already talked about vitamin D. Zinc deficiency has been linked with refractive errors, retinal detachments and macular degeneration. There are over 300 zinc dependent enzymes, and zinc is necessary for healthy connective tissue (eg eyeballs, lenses, irises and conjunctiva, as well as a healthy gut which doesn't leak and a healthy immune system). Some of the best sources of zinc include oysters, liver, red meat and pumpkin seeds (in fact there are very few other good sources of non animal zinc), but these foods are seldom seen on a modern menu. Vegetarians and vegans have higher incidences of zinc deficiency, and a study of Nepalese children by Niroula et al showed a relationship between vegetarian diets and myopia. Of course this is only correlation, but does fit with what we know about diet and health. A study by Edwards identified differences in dietary intakes of energy intake, protein, fat, vitamins B1, B2 and C, phosphorus, iron and cholesterol between myopic children and controls. Cofactors for zinc include vitamins A, D, K2 and B6 as well as calcium, magnesium, copper, boron and probably silica (you might want to consider barefoot walking to absorb silica, but probably not on lead-contaminated ground).

Antinutrients
Antinutrients are common in the plant kingdom, particularly in the seeds, making cereal grains, legumes, pseudocereals, seeds and nuts particularly challenging from a dietary perspective. Some of the proteins can be especially problematic, eg enzyme inhibitors, lectins and glutens. Saponins can also play havoc with your digestion. Traditional cultures tend to develop natural ways to minimise these potential toxins, including soaking, sprouting and fermenting. However in our fast-paced culture the effects of these antinutrients are trivialised, and food preparation techniques skip these steps. As a result a lot of the antinutrients in our food are still present. Enzyme inhibitors can prevent complete digestion of our foods, especially proteins, resulting in a failure to completely digest and assimilate foods. The undigested foods also provide a source of nutrients for intestinal flora. Unfortunately this may result in growth of microbes in the wrong place (SIBO) or of pathogenic microbes. Incompletely digested proteins can also cross a leaky gut into the bloodstream where they activate the immune system and cause increased general inflammation.

Wheat germ agglutinin has deleterious effects on the vitamin D receptor. As far back as the 1920s and 1930s researchers were able to identify that increased intake of wheat and grains was associated with rickets. This could be reversed with vitamin D supplementation. Instead of concluding that wheat and grains might be damaging to your health and cause rickets, they concluded that rickets was due to vitamin D deficiency. However, this is clearly only a part of the story as rickets is now diagnosed more frequently in countries closer to the equator, such as Bangladesh, than it is in temperate regions. These people have adequate sunlight exposure and vitamin D levels, but are still eating a diet rich in grains. Scientists are stumped because they have not been able to prove a vitamin D deficiency in these cases in Chakaria in Bangladesh, but feel that dietary deficiencies of calcium, phosphorous, zinc and iron might be to blame. They did note reductions in the use of pulses, nuts, seeds and starchy tubers in the 1980s and early 1990s. Could they have been replacing these with cheap wheat, maize and other grains? However, children in other parts of Bangladesh who have a diet rich in rice (which does not contain wheat germ agglutinin) are reported not to suffer from rickets. Their solution has been to fortify wheat and maize with calcium (I wonder how much lead they are being poisoned with...) because everyone knows that bones are 100% calcium. With maybe a little phosphorous on top for added value. And it's just inconvenient that most of the body's magnesium is located in bone. Or that zinc is found in bone also, and healthy bone development requires a protein lattice with adequate dietary boron and silica as well as vitamins D and K2. Fortunately they also appear to be promoting other vegetable sources of calcium which are grown locally.

Gut health
Health begins in the gut, and poor gut health can manifest in many vague ways, including poor eyesight. A healthy gut requires an intact lining from mouth to anus. Oral health can impact digestion; gingivitis has been linked to inflammatory diseases, autoimmunity and heart disease. Use of fluoride in an effort to protect against tooth decay, mercury amalgams, root canals, metal crowns and other dental toxins can have far-reaching effects on other systems, from the endocrine system to the immune system to the nervous system to the cardiovascular system... It turns out that all our systems are interconnected. Who knew?!

Adequate stomach acid is necessary for the digestion of protein, defence against microbial gut infection and the absorption of some nutrients. However, zinc deficiency, small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, grain rich diets and regular use of acid blocking medications result in reduced stomach acid production. Enzyme inhibitors in grains, seeds, nuts and legumes lead to reduced digestive enzymes, digestive distress, and again reduce a host's ability to defend against microbial attacks. Wheat germ agglutinin also reduces bile release by blocking a hormone called CCK (hello gallstones). No bile, no digestive enzymes and no stomach acid = incomplete digestion of all food and overgrowth of microbes in the small bowel which should be almost sterile. A lot of the proteins found in grains, including gluten, have a very high proportion of proline to glutamate amino acids (prolamines). Unless one of your grandparents was a canary, you're going to find it impossible to completely digest these proteins, further contributing to the indigestible sludge now making its way through your intestines and leaving havoc in its wake. And don't even get me started on highly processed fake food and sugars... There may be a tendency to develop a leaky gut and absorb large, undigested protein fragments directly into the bloodstream. It is then up to the immune system to clear up this rubbish which consists of undigested food particles, microbes and their waste products and toxins (colloquially collectively known as poop). The presence of undigested food in your blood does not mean that you can then continue the process of digestion outside of the bowel as you should not find lots of digestive enzymes and bile salts floating about in your bloodstream. In addition a lot of the undigested contents of the bowel along with gut dysbiosis can cause bowel inflammation which can further impair absorption of nutrients eg vitamin B12. Coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease and other inflammatory conditions of the gastrointestinal tract are becoming ever more common. All of this means that malnutrition of vital nutrients is on the rise. Cortisol dysregulation and hyperinsulinemia are also common place along with inflammation, giving rise to obesity. This is often misinterpreted as excessive nutrition, but nothing could be further from the truth, as the person is almost certainly deficient in a large proportion of their micronutrients, and this can actually be driving hunger and food seeking behaviors as they will attempt to correct for nutritional deficiencies. The common advice to count calories without adequate attention to food quality invariably leads to failure to lose weight. This is inevitably blamed on the patient and their lack of will power, rather than the poor advice, despite the lack of evidence for a calorie-controlled diet being able to make any sort of long term impact on weight management.


Toxins, heavy metals, EMF and water
If only our environmental exposures were limited to the food we eat. Our exposures to heavy metals, products of the petrochemical industry, fossil fuels, pesticides, GMOs, multi drug resistant microbes, preservatives, novel chemicals in packaging, plastics, air and water, drugs and hormones is at endemic compared with before the industrial revolution. We have long recognised the dangers of lead, but underestimated the long term effects of chronic low level exposure on a cellular and mitochondrial level. Environmental lead is still very much higher than pre-industrial revolution. We are still polluting our oceans with mercury, arsenic, bromide, cadmium, nickel and radioactive metals. We still drill holes in our teeth and fill them with mercury (interestingly mercury amalgams were associated with a lower incidence of myopia in 1 study of children, possibly because of stiffening of connective tissue). We fill vaccines with aluminium and preservatives and then inject them directly into the muscles of malnourished children with inadequate zinc and vitamin levels to be able to detox. We promote the development of antibiotic resistance through inappropriate use of antibiotics, factory farming and the insertion of genes for antibiotic resistance into GMO crops as a marker. We are using Bt toxins in GMO crops to reduce crop loss by insects, but ignoring the fact that Bt toxin is also toxic to a lot of microbes in the soil and our guts. We are altering our own microbiomes, but also the microbiomes of plants, which impairs their ability to absorb micronutrients and elements from the soil. We are using non-organic fertilisers on crops, but only replacing nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous. It is no surprise that the micronutrient content of conventional fruit and vegetables is on a steady downward trajectory.

Toxins exert their effects in various ways. At a biochemical level they can block and replace our minerals, trace metals and other micronutrients. They are often mitochondrial toxins, interfering with our energy production and the synthetic functions of the mitochondria, eg haem and steroid hormone production. They can bind to nutrients or cause other compounds to bind to them, resulting in urinary wastage of nutrients like zinc, magnesium and vitamin B6, further exacerbating nutrient deficiencies. They can also cause renal dysfunction so that we are not able to adequately reabsorb nutrients and prevent them from being lost in the urine. They can promote the growth of pathogenic microbes, eg candida with mercury. BPAs in plastic also inactivate vitamin D. There is insufficient research on replacements for BPAs to enable us to know whether these are any safer.

Drinking water is treated with high levels of chlorine and other chemicals to disinfect it and to prevent lead from pipes from leaching into tap water. Fluoride is also added to water in some areas. Apart from the fact that the evidence that fluoridation of water supplies actually does anything to reduce dental caries is beyond sketchy, you never really get isolated fluoride. It is usually packaged up with trace amounts of lots of impurities like arsenic, lead and radionuclides. What a bargain! At least the authorities believe that the impurities occur at such low levels as to not cause anybody any problems. Of course this is not backed up by any scientific research of any kind whatsoever, as nobody in their right mind would attempt to enrol pregnant women, babies and children in long term studies which could expose them to known toxins in order to work out the levels at which you could expect to see side effects. The halogens, including fluoride and high levels of bromide and chloride, are known endocrine disrupters which are associated with abnormalities of thyroid function. High levels of fluoride are associated with skeletal fluorosis.

EMF exposures from electrical equipment probably have adverse effects on sleep, hormones, the nervous system and the immune system.


Drugs, additives, skin care products
The chemicals that we place on our skins and in our mouths often have dubious heritages, full of preservatives and probable carcinogens as well as chemicals which are known to be skin irritants. We use medications to treat symptoms without consideration of other effects that they might have. The oral contraceptive pill reduces absorption of several nutrients, including zinc, magnesium and B vitamins. It also appears to enter the water system so that it is recycled. Even if you are not on the pill it is difficult to know whether you might be ingesting significant amounts of synthetic hormones from drinking water, or from agricultural practices.

Microbiome
The microbiome is starting to be recognised as a very active metabolic organ in its own right. It appears to have synthetic, detoxification and immune regulation properties and can alter DNA expression. There is also an ocular microbiome, although less attention is being paid to it. Who knows whether it might be possible to alter the ocular microbiome by diet. Stranger things have happened! We also have no idea what affect (if any) the ocular microbiome has on eye health outside of eye infections.

Hormones
Thyroid dysregulation is associated with myopia, and is very common for the reasons mentioned above. Insulin resistance and diabetes have been dealt with by other posters. Adrenal hormonal problems are also widespread and problems with cortisol, sex hormones and steroid hormones including vitamin D interplay and have knock on effects for tissue development, healing and growth.

Sleep, exercise, social support, stress management
Lifestyle factors have been mentioned by others. Adequate sleep is not a luxury, but a necessity. Sleep allows healing, restoration and growth. Melatonin is thought to have antioxidant properties. Total body exercise can have beneficial effects on hormones, including improvements in insulin sensitivity, cortisol patterns, growth hormone, IGF 1 and interleukins. It can improve digestion and gut transit time. Eye exercise with variations in focal length can help shape eyeballs and keep muscles trim and active. Stress management has positive effects on hormones, immune system and gut health. Digestion is smoother when relaxed.

To summarise, modern life is pretty toxic. A paleo diet goes a certain way to trying to redress that. Having an ancestral approach to diet and lifestyle may go even further to improve overall health, wellness and nutrition, and it is conceivable that even people with fairly advanced degenerative changes might see at least some improvement in their symptoms. For some people this may still not be enough, and they may benefit from additional testing for specific nutritional imbalances, methylation disorders, pyroluria, zinc/copper imbalances, gut dysbiosis, heavy metal poisoning, etc. There may still be some things which might not be able to be completely corrected, eg bones fuse in adulthood, so remodelling of facial bones, hard palates and eye sockets may prove to be too great a task to accomplish. You cannot change your genes, however gene expression may be altered by changing your environment!

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-10 · August 24, 2014 at 9:45 AM

Quite interesting, but everybody who commented seems to have myopia?

I a far-sighted, with a bit of amblyopia (1 eye stronger than the other). It could have been diagnosed when I was as young as 6 months old (both my parents were far-sighted), but I only got treatment when I was about 3 years old, thanks to my nanny and my kindergarten teacher. By that time, my brain had 'switched off' my left eye (the weaker of the two) and my right eye was deteriorating rapidly. Symptoms were a bad squint, and bumping into objects, missing steps, falling down stairs, dropping objects (for example dropping glasses on to the floor when trying to put them on a table), not being able to do jigsaw puzzles, draw, and eventually recognise people from their faces only. Because it had been left too long, I had an operation. I was extremely lucky and ended up with one of the best surgeons in my country for that type of operations, a lovely elderly gentleman who explained everything to me beforehand, and stayed in touch (through my ophtalmologist, who was his niece) until his death! My mother had been very opposed to the operation (she said it was God's will I become blind) and parents don't usually leave it until their child is totally blind in one eye so he remembered me very well!

After the  operation I had 4/10 in the weaker eye and 4.5/10 in the better eye. Withough glasses, I either had double vision, or completely blurred vision. I did 'muscle training' with an orthoptist, 2-3 times a week, several months a year, from the age of 3 to the age of 18. My vision improved dramatically over the years, although 3-dimensional vision is nowhere near as good as in a normal person (so I am rubbish at catching 'flying' objects, and have to 'grope' in the area where I know the ball is). I could pass the eye test to become an officer in the Navy, but I could never pass the test to become an airplane pilot, not even a small private plane (fancy landing with limited 3-D vision).

I thought I had reached my 'peak' at 18, but it went on improving (currently 8/10  bad eye, 8.5/10 good eye), and at my last test (age 38) I had better 3-dimensional vision than ever. Since going paleo, my vision has improved and I can go without glasses at times, even for reading. My eyesight deteriorated dramatically (blurred vision only though, no squinting and double vision) when I was on Aytriptilline for 5 days for a slipped  disc but it came back, slowly, and I am lookingforward to my next eye test!

BTW the link between beta carotenes and vision was made up by the British Intelligence during WW2: they didn't want the Germans to suspect they had designed powerfull radars, which helped locate approaching Germans planes, so they claimed the secret weapon was feeding their pilots lots of carrots. 

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0 · August 21, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Fluid retention can affect eyesight significantly.  My eyes were always great until I was pregnant and I had trouble seeing far away, then it would correct itsself post pregnancy.  After my third baby, however, my eyesight did not correct itself and I had to get glasses for the first time at 26 years old and I had astigmatism in one eye.  Then two years later and after my fourth baby I had a routine exam and my astigmatism was gone and both my eyes needed a weaker prescription.  Looking forward to seeing if this new way of eating will continue to improve my eyesight.  

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279 · May 23, 2013 at 4:18 AM

I've been paleo for a year and a half, and my prescription and astigmatism improved significantly at my last appointment. However, the doc didn't seem particularly surprised. She said it's relatively common.

B2b29fd5e2790d1144e549ea7eb8a9b9
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0 · May 23, 2013 at 4:01 AM

I realize this is an old blog, but I had an eye exam today and my vision has also improved by 0.5 in both eyes. I am 50 years old and was pleasantly surprised and happy to say the least. I have been noticing that I am seeing better close up as well. I have mostly eliminated grains and sugar from my diet. I would say >75% over the past year. I wonder how much they would have improved if I had been 100% primal. I will find out 2 years from now when I have my eyes checked again.

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0 · March 09, 2013 at 1:55 PM

Not paleo but bought a vitamix 6 months ago and have been doing "raw until dinner." Have worn glasses since I was in middle school. Notice a change in my vision over the last couple of months and went to get eye exam. Was told my glasses were now too strong -- my vision has significantly improved. My eye doctor asked about diet changes. I totally credit the juicing and green smoothies. BTW: I'm not diabetic so while blood glucose could be part of the reason it would have to be improvement within what is considered normal range.

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20 · November 02, 2012 at 4:51 AM

Late to the game, but just got back from my latest eye exam and thought I'd chime in. Been going to the same optometrist for the last 6 years and my eyes were steadily getting worse the first four of those years, finally leveling off the last 2 years at -6.0 for the left eye and -5.75 for the right with mild astigmatism in both. This last exam both my eyes are at -5.25 with less pronounced astigmatism. So nothing huge, but definitely enough to make my optometrist shake his head in wonder (it was kind of funny, actually). I've been primal for about 7 months. I'll be interested to see if my eyes improve even more by next year's exam. By the way, I am a jewelry maker and spend hours a day focusing my eyes about 10" in front of my face on tiny little components. Have been for 5 years now, so if anything it seems like my eyes should just be getting worse like they had been for a while.

Aaa46843906d8f70e8068e9eeed4d991
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8 · September 20, 2012 at 7:05 PM

I'm a vegan for the last 2 years and a vegetarian for the last 32...am over 47 and have near perfect eyesight, especially close up. Distance vision diminishing slightly but not enough to need glasses while driving.

None of the close-up seeing problems everyone I know who eats meat started getting at 40. I'm now 47 1/2 and eat tons of whole grains, beans veggies, fruit, very high carb diet and not afraid to eat sugar or bread--but do so sparingly.

I also exercise a bunch--lots of cardio every day, and am on the computer for most of my work.

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20 · September 09, 2012 at 10:46 PM

I've always had perfect vision all my life. I've never liked to eat bread or sweets. But since getting married and eating my wife's food, I've noticed my vision getting fuzzier. But since starting the paleo diet 8 months ago, I've noticed my vision going back to normal again. I couldn't help but to wonder if other people have had a similar experience with the paleo diet, which led me here. It's interesting to see that a lot of other people, though not all, have improved their eye sight on the paleo diet. I can't stop telling people about the amazing affects of the paleo diet.

Other things I've noticed since switching to paleo that I wonder if other paople have experienced... No plaque on my teeth ever, I never have gas, no bad breath, never constipated

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1801 · November 16, 2011 at 10:32 PM

I was searching for some information about eyes and came across this thread...

I was reading a blog the other day about eyes and eye health and this was linked:

http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Perfect_Sight_Without_Glasses

Seems that this guy wrote a book about how to correct vision without wearing glasses. It's on my reading list, but not read any yet :-)

And, FWIW, my vision hasn't improved while eating paleo, but my very slight diabetic retinopathy disappeared.

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1994 · August 22, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Mark Sissons says in his post about eyesight:

"Eating Primal, getting sunlight, staying active, and enjoying a visual life of distant, outdoor scope all become part of a more natural, Primal kind of prescription for maintaining the best eye health we can."

http://www.marksdailyapple.com/the-modern-assault-on-eyesight-health/

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0 · May 09, 2011 at 2:39 AM

I don't even know what Paleo is . I eat what I want to, not much sugar but just because I don't like sweets too much. I have received some hormone for a problem and it is just a topical cream and the notice in the improvement of my eyesight is thrilling me. I do eat grains though, bran cereal. I am just puzzled as to why my eyesight is better. I am 60 years old and don't have to use my reading glasses unless the writing on something is real tiny like on some medicine containers.Maybe I will be able to later, who knows.

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15976 · July 08, 2010 at 1:20 PM

No improvement for me. I been wearing glasses so that i can see things far away since i was a kid. Now im thirty. I do indeed think that living paleo is prolly keeping my eyes from further deteriorating (maybe just slowing the process but...) but i have NO improvement whatsoever. Sucks.

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821 · July 08, 2010 at 12:09 PM

Sorry, probably not reversible. Preventable, quite likely.

Bebc8909d95205d0f266c839304c7d3c
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347 · July 08, 2010 at 3:21 AM

Nope, no such luck for me. My eyesight hasn't gotten worse under paleo, but it certainly hasn't gotten better!

C53665c3f012fa1ede91033b08a8a6e7
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2269 · July 08, 2010 at 3:05 AM

Paleo since January and my near vision keeps getting worse, so, for me, no, diet has not changed what is for me genetically inevitable. I can't imagine that diet can influence vision but willing to consider the opposite viewpoint.

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