Biohacking refers to hacking human biology. The term “hacking” implies rogue, off-road, off-label, do-it-yourself activities. It stems from computer terminology, referring to illicitly defeating security protocols. However, the term has evolved to mean solving problems by undermining the established methods.
Regarding vision health, we have identified three types of biohacks: Nutrition Biohacks (Nutrigenomics), Quantified Self Biohacking (personal tracking devices), and Grinders (cyborgs devices).
Nutrition Biohacks: Nutrigenomics
Nutrigenomics refers to hacking the human body with nutrition. This can be based on how the whole body responds to nutrients. It can also include how specific nutrients influence specific genes.
Eating right is the most important “biohack” for your eyes. A significant body of research has shown the impact of good nutrition on vision health. Scientists have tied a lack of certain nutrients to specific types of eye diseases. For example, the macula at the center of the retina is a yellow color. This area has a large concentration of lutein. Lutein is found in marigold flowers, corn, egg yolks, and certain green vegetables. People who eat plenty of vegetables are less likely to develop macular degeneration.
Hundreds of studies have linked the Mediterranean Diet to better health outcomes, including less eye disease. The word “diet” does not mean it was specifically designed for weight reduction. Indeed, this nutrition plan has been traditionally enjoyed by people living near the Mediterranean Ocean. The program includes fruits and vegetables, olive oil, legumes/nuts/seeds, grains and potatoes, seafood, some dairy and poultry, and occasional meats and sweets.
At Natural Eye Care, we have modified the Mediterranean Diet and called it the “Vision Diet”. This biohack includes more salmon (preferably wild-caught high in omega-3 fatty acids and astaxanthin) and no white sugar. Sardines are excellent as well.
Biohacks for the Mediterranean/Vision Diet:
- Start off gradually. Plan meals in advance.
- Look on the web for Mediterranean Diet recipes.
- At a fast-food burger joint, order a salad with grilled chicken. Bring your own healthy salad dressing, or use only half of the dressing provided. If you order a burger, don’t eat the bun. Totally avoid fries — they are fried in unhealthy oil that may be rancid. Vegetable oil has a low cooking temperature threshold before turning unhealthy.
- At the donut shop chain, order egg whites on a flatbread and green tea, hot or cold. Or, avoid donut shops completely.
You can only get so many nutrients through your diet. A huge biohack is supplements. Supplements are vitamin pills, special oils and syrups, and herbal remedies. Certain supplements are important for vision health.
The AREDS (Age Related Eye Disease Study – 2001) followed 4,700 seniors for about 6 years. This highly controlled, ground-breaking, large study found significantly less age-related macular degeneration when subjects supplemented with:
- vitamin C – a powerful antioxidant
- vitamin E
- zinc (zinc oxide)
- copper (cupric oxide)
- a 2006 AREDS follow-up added beta-carotene, except for people who smoke
Note that this study missed other highly regarded studies on essential nutrients for retinal health such as mesozeaxanthin, taurine, gingko biloba, bilberry, and much more discussed in our latest book “Natural Eye Care: Your Guide to Healthy Vision and Healing.”
At Natural Eye Care, our own Dr. Grossman developed his “Advanced Eye & Vision Support Formula.” This supplement is a whole food, organic, GMO-free formula with a wide range vision antioxidants. Some of the antioxidants include lutein, zeaxanthin, bilberry, carrot root, tomato, spinach, broccoli, and chlorella. This formula was based on current research essential nutrients for eye health. This “biohack” is intended as one way to help reduce the risk of eye disease.
Another biohack on our website are the Support Packages. Dr. Grossman combined “Advanced Eye & Vision Support Formula” with additional bottles of supplements to support specific conditions and parts of the eye. For example, the Optic Nerve Support Package adds Krill Oil, Viteyes Optic Nerve Support drops, Pure Focus mouth spray (glutathione), and Revision Formula for optic nerve support. We also have a range of package for example for macula and vitreous support. See more in our online store.
Quantified Self Biohacking
To quantify means to measure something. Quantified Self biohacking involves logging measurements of your food, water intake, air quality, heart rate, and mood, for example. Also called “lifelogging,” this method might also measure sleep, physical performance, and mental achievements. In the past, we could track some of these measurements on paper. Today, modern technology such as the Fitbit, Apple Watch, and mobile phone apps make lifelogging almost automatic. Most electric fitness equipment has built-in heart rate sensors, stopwatches, and an estimate of calories burned. Food trackers contain nearly every food on the market. Some food trackers can even read food package barcodes!
Quantified Self biohacking creates a feedback loop. Closely monitoring inputs and outputs helps people make healthy choices. For example, they may conclude that caffeine after 4 PM means one fewer hour of quality sleep. Is that calorie estimate accurate? What’s the difference between working out twice a week versus four times a week?
In terms of vision health, quantified self- biohacking might include:
- A smartwatch that measures activity, sleep quality, heart rate, calorie burn, cardo fitness, and more. Fitbit, for example, can send data to up to 200 phone apps.
- Food tracker on a phone app. Measure your intake of crucial vision nutrients like lutein, zeaxanthin, and omega-3 fatty acids. Monitor calories. Ensure you get the right balance of fat, carbohydrates, and protein.
- Step tracker on your phone. Aim for 10,000 steps per day.
- Heart rate monitor on your phone’s sensor or exercise equipment. Are you exercising hard enough? Too hard?
- Blood pressure cuff with Bluetooth. Track blood pressure at various times of the day using an app.
- Phone apps can help you quit smoking. Smoking dramatically increases your risk of developing eye disease.
- If you don’t want a smartphone, choose devices that can synchronize data with your computer.
A grinder makes chemical or cybernetic modifications to their bodies to enhance it. Implanting RFID or NFC chips under the skin to open secure doors are an example. Grinding on oneself is inherently dangerous unless you are a trained scientist. However, qualified researchers are testing cybernetics on people to restore their vision. Far safer than DIY-devices, doctors have installed microchips, tiny implantable telescopes, and retinal implants. Additionally, people with eye disease have benefited from the Trabecular Micro-Bypass Stent for slowing the progress of cataracts and glaucoma, and Encapsulated Cell Therapy to deliver glaucoma medication directly and steadily to the eye.
Cautions and Conclusions
Before delving into the world of biohacking, consult your physician and eye doctor. Few doctors would object to regular exercise, stopping smoking, and eating right. On the other hand, experimenting with home-made ocular implants and eye drops is asking for trouble! Wearing a special watch to track heart rate, calories, and exercise can only enhance your health.