What if someone told you that you could repair vision loss? Or that you could heal the damage in your eyes from injury? It’s possible, and now you may be able to do that from the comfort of your own home, to some extent.
Degenerative ocular diseases affect huge portions of the population – over 24 million Americans suffer from cataracts; over 2.1 million with macular-degeneration; and 2.7 million with glaucoma. These diseases are slowly stealing the vision of people all over the world.
Trauma also plays a big part in vision loss and impairment. Through work accidents and injuries, irreparable damage can be done to the eyes.
Here’s how you can potentially restore your vision at the doctor’s office and at home.
Trauma and Degenerative Diseases
Ocular trauma is a common reason to visit the ER. Doctors often see patients come in from work accidents because they didn’t wear their safety glasses. They also see patients with eye injuries from fights or other abuses. Trauma from both situations is a threat to your eye health.
Embedded foreign bodies in the eye often occur when someone has been drilling or grinding metal and didn’t wear glasses. The metal particles can land in the eye and damage the cornea. Particles from the metal can begin to rust and stay lodged in the eye long after the metal body is removed. Another common trauma is from a contusion – accidental or intentional. A hit to the face can cause bruising, knock the retina loose, and cause bleeding under the retina. These examples of trauma can seriously affect your vision long-term.
Degenerative diseases, on the other hand, are sometimes out of your control. Many people inherit them from their familial genes. Others develop these diseases because of their nutrient-lacking diet, lifestyle, or from ignoring symptoms.
Macular degeneration is among the most common degenerative diseases. It’s caused by a lack of nutrients stimulating and protecting the eyes’ cells. Epithelium cells in the macula begin to break down, causing a slow diminishing of vision. Cataract and glaucoma are also common eye diseases that cause partial or complete vision loss. Glaucoma is caused by damage to the optic nerve. Cataracts develop when the internal lens begins clouding.
What Are Regeneration Therapies?
Through studies on the brain and central nervous system, science has shown how similar the eye tissues are to brain tissues. We know that neurogenesis (cell regrowth) can occur in the hippocampus, thus improving the mental state of Alzheimer and dementia patients. Similarly, neurogenesis can occur in the eyes to regrow the cells responsible for communicating with the brain, called retinal ganglion cells (RGC).
Vision loss and damage due to injured or diseased eye cells can be reversed if new RGCs are grown.
Regenerative therapies promote the growth of RGCs through a few different methods. First, doctors can grow stem cells in the lab and then transplant them into the retina of a patient. The stem cells will then replace the unhealthy and damaged cells and eventually restore the patient’s vision.
Other types of regenerative therapies include reprogramming and preservation techniques. Preservation therapy focuses on maintaining the integrity and existing structure of the retina. This helps the eye accept and support the implant. Reprogramming consists of using other retinal cells and turning them into RGCs. Scientists are exploring and researching both of these treatments.
These, as well as stem cell therapy, must be done by a medical team.
How to Regenerate Eye Tissue from Home
If you don’t have access to eye doctors who can perform the therapies above, you’re in luck. There are now ways you can regenerate your own eye tissue from home. Improving your eyesight is finally possible without medical guidance.
Researchers have found that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) plays a role in increasing cell growth in the central nervous system. Higher levels of BDNF means your eyes are able to produce new healthy cells more efficiently and without medical treatment. Boosting BDNF levels could allow your ocular injuries to heal without lifelong damage. So, it is possible to stop degenerative ocular diseases in their tracks or even reverse them. That’s a big deal!
How do you boost BDNF levels? There are lots of ways to do this. Here are the most notable and effective:
The brain produces different proteins, including BDNF, during and after exercise. Doing a minimum of 30 minutes of cardio or high-intensity interval training (HIIT) can spike your BDNF production. Some examples of exercises that are great for this purpose are lifting heavy weights, interval sprinting and walking as much as you can. Doing a mixture of these types of workouts each week is optimal for BDNF production.
BDNF levels typically raise in the summer and decline in the winter. This is no coincidence as we spend more time in the sun during the summer months. To reap the benefits of sunlight exposure all year, try to spend at least 10 minutes a day outside, even when it’s overcast. Sunlight gives us our very important vitamin D. So, if you’re unable to go outside each day, consider buying a Vitamin D lamp or taking a daily supplement for eye health.
People who are sleep deprived have low levels of BDNF. You don’t necessarily need to sleep more hours to boost your BDNF production; the quality of your sleep is more important. Take steps to ensure you fall into a deep sleep every night by limiting the screen time before bed, ensuring the room is pitch black, and exercising daily.
Here are some other BDNF boosting methods:
- intermittent fasting
- reducing processed foods in your diet
- increase intake of antioxidants through foods or supplements
- reduce your daily stress.
The activities mentioned above are all possible without the guidance of a doctor or medical team. You can boost your BDNF, increase the growth of RGCs, and improve your vision all from home. While it’s smart to check in with a doctor regularly to track your progress and monitor your overall health, your vision can improve without medical intervention.