How To Be WellnStrong

41: Natural Ways to Improve Eye Health | Dr. Joseph Allen, OD, FAAO

February 20, 2024 Jacqueline Genova Episode 41
41: Natural Ways to Improve Eye Health | Dr. Joseph Allen, OD, FAAO
How To Be WellnStrong
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How To Be WellnStrong
41: Natural Ways to Improve Eye Health | Dr. Joseph Allen, OD, FAAO
Feb 20, 2024 Episode 41
Jacqueline Genova

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When we think about our health, it’s easy to forget our eyes. My eye health knowledge was almost nonexistent prior to today’s episode, and I learned a ton, like the fact that routine eye exams can actually reveal underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Join me in today's episode as I speak with Dr. Joseph Allen, OD, FAAO, Dipl ABO.  We discuss some of the root causes behind common eye conditions and eyesight deterioration, foods that can improve your vision, how to deal with digital eye strain, eye myths, and so much more. 

Suggested Resources:

This episode is proudly sponsored by Carolina Elegance

Are you looking for a dream summer vacation? Check out CarolinaElegance.com today! Let Karen know you're a WellnStrong follower for a special discount off the golf cart :). 

This episode is proudly sponsored by:
Nature Restore, organic superfood powders & extracts sourced directly from nature to restore your body. Head to naturerestore.com and use code WELLNSTRONG20 for 20% off.

This episode is proudly sponsored by Purity Woods.

Purity Woods is on a mission to provide people with the cleanest and most effective healthy aging and longevity products available. All of their products are USDA certified organic, non-GMO, and free of toxic preservatives and synthetic additives. Go to puritywoods.com/WELLNSTRONG or enter the code WELLNSTRONG at checkout for an additional 10% off your first order.

Join the WellnStrong mailing list for exclusive content here!

Want more of The How To Be WellnStrong Podcast? Subscribe to the YouTube channel.


Follow Jacqueline:


Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Send me a text!

When we think about our health, it’s easy to forget our eyes. My eye health knowledge was almost nonexistent prior to today’s episode, and I learned a ton, like the fact that routine eye exams can actually reveal underlying medical conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes. Join me in today's episode as I speak with Dr. Joseph Allen, OD, FAAO, Dipl ABO.  We discuss some of the root causes behind common eye conditions and eyesight deterioration, foods that can improve your vision, how to deal with digital eye strain, eye myths, and so much more. 

Suggested Resources:

This episode is proudly sponsored by Carolina Elegance

Are you looking for a dream summer vacation? Check out CarolinaElegance.com today! Let Karen know you're a WellnStrong follower for a special discount off the golf cart :). 

This episode is proudly sponsored by:
Nature Restore, organic superfood powders & extracts sourced directly from nature to restore your body. Head to naturerestore.com and use code WELLNSTRONG20 for 20% off.

This episode is proudly sponsored by Purity Woods.

Purity Woods is on a mission to provide people with the cleanest and most effective healthy aging and longevity products available. All of their products are USDA certified organic, non-GMO, and free of toxic preservatives and synthetic additives. Go to puritywoods.com/WELLNSTRONG or enter the code WELLNSTRONG at checkout for an additional 10% off your first order.

Join the WellnStrong mailing list for exclusive content here!

Want more of The How To Be WellnStrong Podcast? Subscribe to the YouTube channel.


Follow Jacqueline:


*Unedited Transcript*

Jacqueline: [00:00:00] First of all, I'm so excited to meet you.

Thank you so much for for taking some time It's morning for you, right? You're about an hour behind me.

Dr. Joseph Allen: I think so. Yeah. I don't, uh, where, where are you located,

Jacqueline? 

Jacqueline: Greenville, South Carolina

Dr. Joseph Allen: Okay. So yeah, you're about an hour. Um, yeah, you're hour ahead of me. So, um, I'm in Minnesota, so not too far.

Jacqueline: yeah, like what 20 hour drive or so

Dr. Joseph Allen: I have no idea.

Jacqueline: Not too far

Dr. Joseph Allen: The only time I've gone to the East Coast has been flying. So

Jacqueline: Yeah, I moved here about a year and a half ago from Boston. So it's funny It's about an hour and a half home for me from New Jersey, which is where my family lives And then a 13 hour drive, which I will not ever really make. 

Dr. Joseph Allen: Very cool. Well, thank you for just inviting me onto your podcast. I've spent some time listening to other guests that you've had. And, um, I, I enjoy the content that you, you've been putting out. Um, I think it's valuable and, uh, fascinating, interesting to hear other professionals talk about you know, how to just improve people's lives and what the research says and [00:01:00] all that sort of stuff.

Jacqueline: thank you so much. I really appreciate that. And certainly, you've done some incredible work. I first heard about you from Chris Wark. I've been a long time follower and fan of his work, but heard your interview with him and realized, I don't have much content on Eye health.

And I'm a big fan. I love your Instagram. I love all of the video content you create. So, super excited to have you on and chat with you today, again, on a topic that I don't really cover.

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah, yeah, it's it's sadly eye care is something that Most people don't think about until there's a problem and it's too late to do anything about it

Jacqueline: I hear you. Well, I am 28 years old and I'm starting to realize that digital eye strain is a very real condition. Right? So I'd love to speak with you on that topic, but just to start so you have a very interesting background. I'd love for you to share with listeners. How your approach to eye care differs from the more conventional, standard approach.

Dr. Joseph Allen: so, um, you know, I think a lot of doctors are share a similar approach that I have I think just Historically, [00:02:00] we're, we're very much trained in the traditional kind of Western philosophy of medicine that it's very, you know, there's a disease and we treat the disease that, uh, surgery is a very, it's easy to jump to surgery to correct something rather than, uh, finding either a kind of functional version to, to reduce symptoms, to get things better.

And so, um, I think my, myself, I, I was trained, uh, you know, with my residency and everything to follow the evidence, the guidelines, the, you know, and we do still reach for a lot of medications when appropriate when necessary, but I try to, really encourage my patients and I try to spend time talking with them about, uh, how the rest of the body is definitely connected to the eyes and their lifestyle will affect their eyes and what they do today can hopefully prevent, uh, diseases, as well.

And complications down the road, uh, starting even at young age of, of being children. So [00:03:00] it's, it's an important topic. And I like to think just like you and all of your guests that, uh, the world is sort of turning a little bit away from just like this very cookie cutter, uh, you know, emergency medicine approach. that, you know, if you break your leg, this is how you treat it. Well, it's like, no, we have a lot more of these chronic diseases, these things that are in our lifestyle that we can start to fine tune and optimize. And it ends up having this repercussion effect that can echo your lifetime. So I like to think that.

Jacqueline: I love that. No, I couldn't agree more. Well, within that umbrella of things that you recommend to patients, I'd love to start with nutrition. What are some of the best foods for eye health?

And do you have a general dietary approach that you advocate for?

Dr. Joseph Allen: so, uh, first, I guess I'll take The second part first. I'll do It backwards. Uh, I generally still, the evidence largely agrees that a Mediterranean diet, um, is by far the best for the eyes with, I think I [00:04:00] hyper focus on the fruits and vegetable component that Um, and in and I should say whole foods as number one, because so many and I think almost everybody who talks about nutrition or studies it finds that that least common denominator most of us, especially in Western civilizations here in the U.

S. We're eating so much processed food, and that isn't necessarily equaling great health outcomes. The. Component of eating more fruits and veggies good for the eyes that that has been well studied and well known the the retina in the back of the eye. These are your photoreceptors. Uh, all the cells that send the signals to the back of your brain to help you see.

Uh, this is the most highly metabolic tissue in your body. It's constantly being bombarded by light energy from the moment you open your eyes in the morning. It's constantly receiving this light energy. It's going through oxidative stress and [00:05:00] inflammation and has to constantly fight that to keep itself healthy.

And so, uh, to do that, you need a lot of antioxidants and you get most of those from fruits and veggies. The most important, you know, everybody thinks, you know, oh, what's the best food for the eyes? And you'd probably say, what would you say, Jacqueline? 

Jacqueline: Carrots.

right? But it's actually not.

Dr. Joseph Allen: it's actually not. Uh, I think carrots do have an important role and are healthy for the eyes.

Uh, for people listening in who haven't heard the story, the reason everybody thinks that myth about carrots came from World War II. Uh. Great Britain, uh, at that time had invented a new type of, uh, a new type of radar that would help them detect German warplanes at nighttime, but they didn't want the Germans to know that they had this technology.

And so they started a propaganda, uh, of basically kind of reverse propaganda, like, Hey, let's put out these posters, getting people to eat more veggies [00:06:00] because it's better for the economy at that time during wartime. But then also to kind of confuse the Germans and not let them know that they have this new technology that their scouts had supervision because they eat their carrots.

Jacqueline: That is so interesting. I never knew that.

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah, it is really kind of, it's fascinating to look into that and see the different propaganda posters that they made. The, uh, but vitamin, you know, carrots have beta carotene, which your body can convert to vitamin A, which is an important essential nutrient for eyesight. However, most people are not deficient in vitamin A by far, unless they're malnourished.

And the few people out there who have, um, maybe a disease that prevents them from absorbing, uh, or holding vitamin A appropriately. Uh, But carrots do still have antioxidants which are still very healthy for for the eyes and the body Uh, but by far right now still green leafy vegetables are Basically the the best thing and the darker the green usually the better so, uh, [00:07:00] kale spinach Uh arugula anything that's bitter with the dirt taste

Jacqueline: I 

Dr. Joseph Allen: uh, the the reasons why that is and so I like I like to emphasize that to my patients that Um, it's don't just do what I say.

I want you to understand why, because if you understand why it's healthy, you're more motivated to go ahead with it. Uh, In, in green leafy vegetables, there are, there's something called lutein and zeaxanthin. And have you ever heard of, of those, Jacqueline?

So at least you have, but I'd say nine out of 10 patients that I ever see have no idea.

They've never heard of those two things. 

Jacqueline: Not surprised. 

Dr. Joseph Allen: uh, you know, if it was vitamin L and vitamin Z or something like that, maybe people would. Who have heard about it, uh, for again, listeners who've never heard of these, uh, these are called carotenoid pigments and over 600 different carotenoid pigments exist in nature.

And only these two, these two pigments go to the eye and specifically the eye and the brain. Uh, they're [00:08:00] stored in fat cells, but they, they primarily get shunted to the eye and over a thousand times more concentrated in the eye than anywhere else. So they function. They have three functions inside the eye.

Uh, so there's lutein and zeaxanthin that you get from food, and then your body will take lutein in the eye and convert it to another carotenoid called mesozeaxanthin.

Jacqueline: That one I've not heard of.

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah, uh, and some supplements have mesozeaxanthin in them, but it's not naturally found in nature, so it's synthetically made. But these three work by one, they filter out high energy light.

So, uh, of all the light that can enter the eye and hit the retina, this yellow pigment absorbs that harsh, high energy blue light that you hear so much about. And so it shields that and protects the delicate retina. But then it has two other effects. It reduces oxidative stress, which again, the retina is constantly under fighting for.

And [00:09:00] then, uh, it has an anti inflammatory component to it as well. Protect the retinal structures, and this is why it's one of the key ingredients for all eye or retinal vitamins that be that are either available over the market people can purchase or that doctors will prescribe for certain retinal health conditions like macular degeneration, for example. So that that's huge. And that's found in green leafy vegetables. You can get lutein and zeaxanthin in some red peppers. You can find it in avocado, pistachios, um, and an egg yolk is actually supplement lutein in chicken feed to help egg yolks look brighter, more yellow.

Jacqueline: So interesting.

Dr. Joseph Allen: Uh, the other great reason why green leafy vegetables are, are healthy for the eyes has to do with nitric oxide.

Um, if again, for listeners who haven't heard too much on nitric oxide, uh, it's. It, it comes from fruits and veggies and a lot of other food stuffs, but, [00:10:00] uh, when it comes from like green leafy vegetables, for example, that helps with the dilation of blood vessels in the back of your eye is. Just a huge network of blood vessels, actually multiple layers of blood vessels.

And, uh, that came very clear to me when I was in my residency, uh, and I'm at the VA, I was at the VA medical center here in Minneapolis, and so many of my patients, they're all diabetic. They all have high blood pressure. They have cholesterol issues. They've had multiple strokes, erectile dysfunction. Uh, it's just, the list goes on and on, and they're on 200 medications.

And so I started recognizing the importance of systemic blood flow and arteries, your veins and how they affect the eyeball. And so, um, not only does nitric oxide help with these conditions, again, like diabetes, high blood pressure, and there's a lot of documented science on this, but it also helps with glaucoma.

Uh, specifically, uh, an eye disease, uh, that can [00:11:00] lead, it's a silent eye disease. A lot of people who go blind from glaucoma have no idea it's going on. Um, but yeah, the, the ingestion of nitric oxide, uh, and the use of nitric oxide helps relax, uh, a certain fiber inside the eye called the trabecular meshwork.

And it's basically the drainage canal for, uh, eye pressure. And so it helps with the fluid outflow of the eye and reducing eye pressure. And one of our medications now for glaucoma is, uh, basically a nitric oxide eye drop.

Jacqueline: Wow. That's fascinating. I feel like the eye is like one of the most complex. organs in the body, right? Like, there's just, you're just going on. I'm like, this is just such a complex network. I can't even imagine how you studied all this in school. But you know how they say the eyes are the window to the soul?

Would you say that it's also accurate to say that the eyes are the window into someone's health?

Dr. Joseph Allen: Oh, absolutely. 100%. It 

is. 

Jacqueline: so with that, like, are there certain conditions that you can detect that someone may have just by an eye exam? Interesting.

Dr. Joseph Allen: [00:12:00] So what's, what's beautiful about the eye is that it's optically clear. So, um, we can view just by looking into the eye, we can see your blood vessels in action. Like if you see your primary care provider and you're being assessed for diabetes, they can't just look at your arm through your skin and tell you're diabetic.

They have to do blood tests first, right? We can look into your eye without. Drawing blood without cutting you open and we can see if somebody is starting to become diabetic. We can see effects of high blood pressure on the arteries and veins. I've caught patients with not only these diseases, but anemia.

I've caught multiple sclerosis. Caught many autoimmune conditions, uh, because of a lot of these autoimmune conditions. It's it's kind of Fascinating but a lot of autoimmune conditions somehow cause inflammation in the eye Even if it's on a different part of your body somehow it communicates to the eye Uh, especially your gut and they're now starting to understand a lot more of the [00:13:00] what they call the gut retinal or the gut eye axis And so, uh, yeah, we we catch a lot of different conditions in the eye.

And I even had a patient, uh, not too long ago. He, he's actually a, he works for a major health insurance company and he came in even though he has no vision problems. And that's, that's really a key thing. I would love more people to understand is that even though you feel you see fine, your vision's great.

You'd maybe don't need glasses, but They never go in for an eye exam, you know, yeah, yeah There's a lot of people who do that and uh this gentleman he came in and he had no complaints He's like he told me he's like no the reason i'm coming in and I brought my son in too is because i'm the one Doing the research for this insurance company I'm not going to say who it was but he even said the data shows the eye exam is the least invasive And most affordable, like medical evaluation that results in the most like beneficial health outcomes for just [00:14:00] screening for all these other diseases.

And so, like, I wish I could have recorded him on tape saying that because I would have echoed it, you know, a thousand times over. Um, but that's why a lot of health insurances now include some form of eye or vision care. component.

Jacqueline: I feel convicted. The last time I went in for, an eye doctor exam was probably three years ago, two, three years ago. So would you recommend that everyone, despite age, go in for an annual eye exam?

Dr. Joseph Allen: I do. And it's reflected in some recent studies. Uh, they did a multidisciplinary look. The American Optometric Association basically spent money to hire a multidisciplinary approach to looking at like, when should I exams be done? It is it every year, every two years. And between all these different healthcare professionals looking at the data, the research, they all said, yes, an annual eye exam is the recommended, um, what's recommended, even for people who don't have eyesight revision problems.

Jacqueline: Interesting. Okay, so I've always had 20 20 [00:15:00] vision again. I'm also at a point in my life where I feel like I spend most of my time sadly on a screen, which I am trying to change. But certainly with that, despite my using my blue light glasses and whatnot, I still have noticed times or I will just be experiencing blurry vision.

And of course, other symptoms of digital eyestrain. So just for me, and I'm sure so many other listeners out there who are dealing with the same issue. How can we mitigate the effects of digital eyestrain while also recognizing that many of us, sadly, do have to rely on screens for work?

Dr. Joseph Allen: Right. So digital eye strain is complex, uh, or what previously was known as computer vision syndrome. Uh, you know, it's more complex than just blue light. In fact, um, a lot of research is still inconclusive about how much blue light really plays a role in digital eye strain and eye fatigue. But we know with the eye, when you are staring at a screen, first understand [00:16:00] you're having to focus at something much closer.

Mm hmm. Than just looking in the distance like if you're driving you're looking off into the infinity as we say past 20 feet And so you have to engage an eye muscle inside of the eye called the ciliary body This helps flex the lens inside your eye to focus But when you when you use that muscle to focus up close, it's Neurologically tethered to the muscles on the outside of your eye which have to turn your eyes inward toward your nose On top of that, it's also tethered to the pupil muscles, the two muscles that control your pupils to make them smaller.

So when you look up close at your phone, for example, your pupils even get tiny and you, it's really hard to control them independently from each other. So when you're trying to focus on a computer screen for, let's say eight hours at minimum, most people are on the computer for at least eight hours a day.

Um, and then you go home and [00:17:00] people are still on their phone. You know, if they're. Yeah, if you're going to break from work, you're doing what you're still looking at your phone. 

It's it's tough, uh, even for myself Uh, so understand you have a lot of eye muscles that are trying to hold, you know, it's not much weight, but it's holding a weight.

Dr. Joseph Allen: I like to compare it to people going to the gym You know, you can pick up a five pound weight and probably lift that with your bicep 300 times, you know Oh, maybe not. I don't know. Um, i've never done 300. I've never tried five pounds 300 times, but You know, most people could probably pick up that five pounds, hold it halfway and hold it there for a long time.

But if you hold it there long enough, eventually the muscle gets tired. And so that that's what your eyes are battling. They're trying to hold one set of weight really close for a long set of time. And so it's important to take breaks. And, you know, they have what's called the 20, 20, 20 rule. It's not super scientific.

In fact, they did a scientific study trying to validate if there's any. Benefit to that and they found it really doesn't but it's still an [00:18:00] important reminder to take more frequent breaks Um, I I encourage people to get outside more Um just to get away from being indoors So it's not just staring at a screen but getting outdoors and there's a lot of benefits that for young children for anybody That's college age or younger definitely try to get two hours a day outside That has to do with more nearsightedness or myopia development, which we can talk about if you if we have time, but the The other kind of good tips

I like to share for people when you're on a computer realize your posture, you know, if you're hunched forward that's affecting your spine, it's affecting your shoulders your neck All of these sort of things can be influencing to your systemic health, your body health, your mood, uh, your focus, uh, tilting your computer screen just enough where you're, you know, you don't, you don't want to be like looking down on your screen.

You don't want to be looking up on your screen. You want to be basically looking straight ahead. And this is a challenge for people who, uh, for a lot of [00:19:00] people who are over the age of 40, their ability to focus up close becomes a challenge. And we call that press biopia. I. And so they end up having to get glasses or some form of optical correction called either bifocals.

No one likes the B word in eye care. Uh, Or progressives. Uh, and those often have a magnification component at the bottom of the frame. Uh, and so what they end up doing is they're sitting on the computer and they're tilting their head up and they're looking through the bottom portion of the glasses to see the computer.

Well, that hurts the back of your neck and it makes, and then they're trying to find the sweet spot for the magnification. So they're constantly moving and adjusting and, uh, it's really frustrating. So for people who are in that scenario. Who do maybe need reading glasses or bifocals. Uh, I do often write a separate glasses prescription that we measure for the computer, uh, because then it's the [00:20:00] whole frame of the lenses for the glasses.

They have the whole. Lens to focus on that one spot of where the computer is that one distance. They don't have to use their eye muscles as much. Um, so that that's another thing for people to consider is getting and going to an eye doctor and saying specifically, I spend this much time on a screen. I would love to be fitted for.

Computer specific glasses and be tested for that. Um, and if you do go in for that, do yourself a favor. It helps me out. I'm always impressed when a patient does this and it's usually engineers. Uh, I can't say it's always, but it's usually engineers, uh, cause they've already thought about it. But, uh.

Measure the distance from where you normally sit in front of the computer and measure that in centimeters from your eye to the computer screen. Uh, and using a tape measure just to have that general idea, because if you tell me that, then I know exactly how far to measure that, uh, in the clinic for, for like a pair of dedicated computer glasses.

Jacqueline: Wow. That's so [00:21:00] interesting. You're going to laugh. I have my mom here with me. She's visiting for a few weeks, just spending some time 

and currently she's, she's reading right now, but she also is, has been struggling with her eyesight and I'm always correcting her with her posture because she does exactly the same thing that you illustrated before.

I'm like, mom, posture. She's like, Oh, sorry, sorry. So yeah, I feel like, I mean, when we're more self aware of things like that, it definitely can help improve over time. Um, and also too, just curious, is it possible to actually improve it? Our vision once it started to decline

Dr. Joseph Allen: Uh, well, the question is, I have to follow up with like, like, how do you mean to improve your vision? Do you mean to reverse your need for glasses? Do you

Jacqueline: so let's let's say let's say first Let's let's do two parts part one would be to prevent further decline So let's say someone's already experienced a decline in their vision. We want to stop it from getting worse Outside of glasses. Are there any things that we could implement?

Dr. Joseph Allen: so right now, uh, what's a [00:22:00] good, a good rule of thumb again, so Let's say myopia, nearsightedness. 'cause a lot of people say, my vision's getting bad, and then they go and see us and then suddenly they're nearsighted. Uh, again, there is a myopia epidemic that's been going on, uh, worldwide, especially, uh, in parts like in China, but uh, certainly it's affecting the United States.

About 25, 30% of people are nearsighted, but it's in increasing and it's projected to about 50% of, of the world's population will be nearsighted with by like 2050. 

Uh. 

Jacqueline: Is that just from the use of like computers and screens or

Dr. Joseph Allen: It's it's a complicated question. Uh, right now they know that more time indoors plays a significant factor in that. So, uh, especially young Children. This isn't like adults. This is happening in young Children. How the eye elongates due to being indoors. Uh, increased demand for near work, mainly through education, um, whether it be, whether it be reading or computers.

So the, the [00:23:00] research shows it's not anything magical about the computer screen. Um, at least not, not that we understand yet, but, uh, whether it be books, whether it be, um, a computer, a tablet. It's just being indoors and being in front of something up close. The more time you spend doing that at a young age, the more likely they are to become myopic or nearsighted. Uh, and so they did find, at least in one study with college students, that students who spent at least two hours a day outside had a mitigating effect on their myopia advancement. So that's one of the reasons why a lot of doctors suggest For young kids, spend at least two hours a day outside.

Jacqueline: Wow

Dr. Joseph Allen: Um, but thankfully we live in a world now where there's a lot of, um, interesting research going on to prevent or reduce the advancement of myopia, whether it be specialized contact lenses, uh, special glasses that are now being invented.

Um, there's atropine eyedrops, uh, that can have an effect and then [00:24:00] quite fascinating. And more recent research, uh, is the use of red light therapy. And there's some research that shows that children being treated with red light therapy can have a slowing effect to the development of nearsightedness.

Still very early research. So I don't want people out there like shining red lights on their kids. Uh, we still have to understand more of, you know, what wavelength, how long, uh, if there's a rebound effect, if they stop, we're still investigating that. But

it's, it's fascinating. 

Jacqueline: I'm so glad you touched on that because I did want to ask you that I've read a lot of conflicting research on the benefits of red light Um, specifically when you're looking directly at it, right? And some have said it's really beneficial for your eyes, while others have said it could potentially damage your vision.

And I know there's a handful of companies that, you know, with their red light devices, they give you those glasses to wear where you literally just like blackout, can't see anything. But overall, what are your thoughts on that? 

Dr. Joseph Allen: So I, [00:25:00] I. Love this whole red light research stuff. I'm I'm I basically I have a ce lecture where I educate doctors on this Uh to bring them up to speed because it's something that I did not learn about when I was in school this is such new information uh That we're that we're kind of learning with the discovery of red light therapies So when it comes to the eye the short answer is it's too early to say I hate I don't like that answer, but it's true uh It's a lot more than just what wavelength of red light.

It has to do with the amount of energy of that red light, the way it's delivered. Where it's delivered, uh, and for what conditions. So some of the best research on benefits of red light are all in aging eye diseases, mainly in macular degeneration. So these are for people over the age of 40, uh, and the condition like macular degeneration, but also some really cool research in, uh, and actually.

Slowing [00:26:00] down and reversing some forms of diabetic eye disease, uh, mainly in macular, uh, edema, which is swelling of the retinal tissue due to bleeding or leakage of fluid inside the eye from diabetes. Uh, so right now, I don't advise anybody to go out and buy any form of red light therapy and shine it in their eyes.

Just yet, especially with all the devices that you find just over the counter, because there's very little regulation and very little testing. And honestly, quite and right now. Not enough science to say it's safe. Uh, we just don't know enough yet.

Jacqueline: hmm.

Dr. Joseph Allen: But I know it's coming and I think it is going to somewhat revolutionize a lot of even the eye care industry. Because right now they do have one, they have two devices that are being investigated by the US FDA right now as a treatment for macular degeneration and then potentially diabetic retinopathy down the line. [00:27:00] But they are currently approved in both Europe and South America.

Jacqueline: Wow.

Dr. Joseph Allen: And so There are trials and they're ongoing and they are very promising and then they show quite a high level of safety Uh, so so right now that's kind of that's kind of like a brewing thing in the eye care industry is, you know I would say of all the industries out there Eye care is one of the probably the most cautious when it comes to adopting a new technology Um, like something will come out and it really won't like new research will come out but the eye care industry won't adopt it to like 15 years later because they're very just They don't want to cause blind, you know, one of the worst things, you know, even from a legal standpoint in the United States, if a doctor tries a new therapy of some kind and what happens, something goes blind.

It's like you instantly lost like every legal battle ever. Um,

Jacqueline: Yeah.

Dr. Joseph Allen: so, but, but right now, red light therapy is fascinating. And, um, at least right now we know a lot of benefits for the skin. Right. [00:28:00] It's been used in dermatology for a long time and there's a few good research studies on its benefit for dry eye and even Chalazian, uh, kind of like a cyst that forms on the, in the eye lid.

Jacqueline: Well, we'll have to have a whole other episode just dedicated to red light therapy in about, I don't know, what, three to five years where we can accurately say 

Dr. Joseph Allen: Well, yeah, right now it's just, you know, it's, it's just fascinating things in the research, but, um, we can't really, I don't feel comfortable making recommendations to my patients even right now on it, other than just like, 

stay tuned. 

Jacqueline: No, that makes sense. So, switching from red light, what about direct sunlight? So obviously we hear one of the best things to do in the morning just to help regulate your circadian system is to go out and get that morning sun exposure. And I've heard conflicting things about whether or not you should look directly into the sun. What is your take on that?

Dr. Joseph Allen: I don't recommend directly staring into the sun. Uh, the energy levels are so powerful and there is, uh, what's called a solar retinopathy. And I have a [00:29:00] patient who recently had this because, you know, they, they're a sun gazer. There's some people and some, some religions and, um, just there, there's some methodology where people recommend gazing at the sun.

Uh, but like this patient of mine, she's been a sun gazer and she came in because she's got this. Spot in her vision this permanent blank spot. She can't read 2020 anymore Uh, no matter what pair of glasses we prescribe her and that's because she has a burnt There's an area of her retina that is burnt and gone because she stared at the sun too long? 

Jacqueline: What do you consider too long?

Dr. Joseph Allen: Well, it depends a little bit on you know, again, the the horizon, you know where the sun is in the horizon but even just a matter of seconds to minutes is, is too long of direct staring at the sun. Uh, think of, uh, you know, when you burn, you know, when you see kids with magnifying glasses and they're burning ants,

you know, uh, I don't know if you, did you ever do that as a

kid? 

Jacqueline: but I've seen it happen.

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah. Uh, so it doesn't take long to set a leaf on fire from a magnifying glass or burn ants with a magnifying [00:30:00] glass. That is literally what's happening inside of your eye when you stare at the sun.

Jacqueline: Wow. 

Dr. Joseph Allen: It's the light, that energy, the sun is so powerful. That energy gets focused. And will burn a hole in the back of your eye.

And so, um, that's why doctors don't recommend it. Uh, I think there is that benefit of getting up in the morning, going for a walk, um, getting that natural sunlight into your eyes. We know that that triggers a whole cascade of signals in the brain to wake up, shut down melatonin production. Um, but, As far as, uh, like sun gazing, I, I don't, I don't recommend staring directly at the sun.

Jacqueline: All right. Noted. But going back to sun exposure, so I've also read conflicting research on sunglasses, and I'm sure you've heard a whole lot about this, but I've heard that it can actually impact your body's ability, wearing sunglasses that is, can impact your body's ability to produce vitamin D. 

Dr. Joseph Allen: My question is always like, what, what evidence, [00:31:00] uh, is, where is that? What is evidence is that? And what is it suggesting? Right. Uh, originally I think it all stemmed from a publication in 2014 that found that some cells inside of the eye have the capacity to produce vitamin D. Uh, That doesn't really mean much, because other cells in your body, like your internal organs, that never see sunlight, still have the capacity to make vitamin D. The, the other component to it that kind of, honestly, the one, the publications that completely diminish the argument that sunglasses are bad for your health, uh, is the fact that sun tanning beds that give you UVB radiation that triggers your body's production of vitamin D. You wear eye care protection that blacks out everything during that procedure.

And so you still produce vitamin D from it. So unfortunately, you know, the vitamin D plays a huge role in so many immune complexes in our body and the [00:32:00] eye. So I have no doubt that vitamin D plays a role in the eye, but, uh, whether or not sunlight activates that, uh, right now, it just doesn't seem. that the, the science points in that direction.

Jacqueline: Interesting.

Dr. Joseph Allen: The real benefit of wearing sunglasses for the eye, the, the biggest benefit is prevention of skin cancer on the eyelid. Your lower eyelid is one of the highest place, most, most likely places to develop a skin cancer, like basal cell carcinoma. Uh, and that's because, you know, the sunlight overhead hits the lower eyelid, not the top eyelid, because you've got the brow that covers it. And so, um, and your eyelids are the thinnest skin on your body. And so this UV light, for example, sunglasses primarily prevent UV light exposure. Uh, UV light will cause kind of like a sunburn to the eye just as it will any other part of the skin. And so people will develop what's called photokeratitis and [00:33:00] welders, people who weld for a living, they know this firsthand because if they ever lift up that visor and don't have the shield in front of their eyes, the welding flash will cause that same photokeratitis sunburn to the eye.

Jacqueline: Wow. That's crazy. Things you don't even think about, right? And yeah, like when, when would we ever put sunscreen on our, on our lower eyelids?

Dr. Joseph Allen: and UV light slows down the healing of the eye too. That's why after you have LASIK surgery It's recommended to wear sunglasses like all the time until at least three months Afterward just because the UV light slows down the healing process

Jacqueline: Is there a particular, I don't like to drop brand names, but I guess when someone's looking for like a certain type of sunglasses that's most protective, what should they be looking for?

Dr. Joseph Allen: So most sunglasses will have a hundred percent UV light protection or pretty close to it It's important to look for some sort of a stamp or something or at least a sticker that says UV [00:34:00] 400 or full UV light protection just because some especially really like dollar store sunglasses will have They'll be made of just some cheap plastic that maybe protects, you know UV C or UVB, but it doesn't have the full protection of the entire UV spectrum.

Uh, and the concern, if you get those really cheap ones, then your pupil will dilate more behind the sunglasses. And then you're letting more UV light in. That's the theory. Uh, but no, I, as far as it comes to brands. Anything you find, uh, at a sunglasses store that's specifically selling sunglasses or like an optical, and most things I find today will have you full UV light protection.

But just one caveat thing, you don't always have to wear sunglasses, but it is recommended, you know, at the high peak UV light exposure times, um, 10 to 4 PM in the afternoon. But in the morning, like you said, if you wake up and the sun is low on the [00:35:00] horizon, you maybe don't need to wear, um, sunglasses during that time or maybe late in the yeah, evening.

Jacqueline: makes sense. Um, one other question I did have for you when you were just talking about the whole sunburn on our lower eyelids sometimes I'll notice that, particularly in the summertime, if I'm on the beach, right, and I take my sunglasses off, I'll see, I don't know if, if you'd call them floaters, but yeah, essentially just like everywhere right in front of me.

And for a moment I'll stop and be like, what is going on? Is that from the sun?

Dr. Joseph Allen: You know, um, not necessarily. Uh, so there are different. Kind of things that happen in the eye that result in symptoms of eye floaters, or these little spots in your vision. The most classical cause of what a floater is really happening, um, is the gel inside the eye starts to break down as we get older.

And the gel is mostly water, but it has some collagen in it. And the [00:36:00] collagen clumps together and forms these little clumps of collagen proteins. And they sit suspended in this gel. This fluid, and when you lift, look left, look right, it floats back and forth. And then the light will cast a shadow in the back of your eye, and then you see it more.

On a bright, sunny day, like you pointed out, if it's bright and sunny, you seem to notice them more. And that's believed to be because your pupil on a bright, sunny day gets really small.

Jacqueline: Hmm.

Dr. Joseph Allen: And on bright sunny day with the people get smaller, it casts a more robust, darker shadow of these floating collagen deposits on the retina, the back of the eyes.

So you see them more. And so that's why people see it a lot more if they stare at the sky, or if they look like if it's here in Minnesota, where it's like a blanket of snow, uh, you, you see it a lot more. Uh, and so that, that's why a lot of people are probably more aware. Of their floaters if they stare at a white computer screen if they look at the blue [00:37:00] sky or if again It's it's snowed out or it's a bright sunny day

Jacqueline: So how do we get rid of them?

Dr. Joseph Allen: Gosh, I wish I wish there was like a snap of the finger answer for this one uh most people's eye floaters do develop just due to age and they usually you Neuroadapt to them meaning you learn that once they're not like something to worry about you kind of learn to ignore them Sometimes a lot of patients will report floaters just get better within six months after they start noticing them.

That's most cases. But truly we don't have like an easy fix to get rid of them. There are some surgical procedures. Uh, one of which is using a laser, uh, which quite literally your surgeon plays like the Asteroids video game

shooting. Well, thankfully that it's quite safe. Um, but if there's really large floaters.

That they can vaporize this floater and it does break it into really tiny sections So [00:38:00] it doesn't a hundred percent eliminate floaters But it can if you have a large one that's floating in the middle of the eye and it's bothering your vision They can make it smaller and less noticeable The, uh, I guess if there was an ultimate cure, it would be called a vitrectomy.

This is a surgery where the surgeon, a retina specialist, will siphon out the gel inside the eye and replace it with an alternate fluid.

Jacqueline: Oh my goodness.

Dr. Joseph Allen: And I'll tell you this though, for anybody listening, if you go see a retina specialist and ask them to do this procedure, most of the time they're gonna say no. Because not only does it carry its own risks, um, of potential, like retinal detachment or retinal hemorrhaging.

Um, you know, they don't want anything negative. They don't want to cause your vision vision loss. That's again a legal issue. And it goes against their oath, you know, of not doing no harm. But if you. It basically will guarantee you that you will get cataracts, uh, very quickly [00:39:00] because the gel inside the eye harbors a lot of vitamin C and that prevents oxidation of the lens inside the eye.

And so if you remove that gel, uh, then oxidative stress increases and the cataract will form very quickly.

Jacqueline: Wow, that's crazy. There's just, it's so complex. What's like the scariest surgery that you've done?

Dr. Joseph Allen: Uh, well myself personally, uh, I'm, I'm a doctor of optometry. So I don't get trained on invasive surgical procedures. Uh, I honestly knew I, I, when I knew I wanted to be an eye care physician, uh, I had to choose which path do I want to go to? I want to be a clinician and be a doctor of optometry, or do I want to be a surgeon and go into ophthalmology?

And I shadowed ophthalmology. And as soon as I saw blood and thankfully cat like cataract surgery, there's not much blood, but then they brought in a young kid and they did strabismus surgery, which they cut the eye muscles.

Jacqueline: Ooh.

Dr. Joseph Allen: And as soon as I saw blood, I near passed out in the operating room. So, I'm happy I [00:40:00] did that.

For anybody who's thinking of going into healthcare of any field, I, I suggest strongly shadow. Shadow surgeons, shadow different doctors, see what the life is like. Cause, um, I, I'm just somebody who can't handle blood guts. Uh, my body has like a visceral reaction or I'm going to pass out. Uh, so I'm like I still want to do eyes.

So I'm going to stick in the clinic and do everything else related to medicine. I'm going to treat the eye, diagnose, manage, but I'm not going to do the surgery component. Um, and so I'm, I'm always, I love working with the surgeons cause there's amazing at what they do. Uh, with that being said, I do some surgical procedures in the clinic, but they're all clinic based.

So I don't go into the operating room. So, probably, um, the surgical procedures that I do are, like, I'll debride the cornea after somebody has a cornea, like an injury to the eye, this is removing the epithelial layer on the surface of the eye, uh, we'll place like an amniotic membrane, so this is a transplanted amniotic tissue that gets placed on the eye, uh, and this helps healing, it has a lot of antibodies that prevent scarring, [00:41:00] uh, helps It basically helps heal the tissue very quickly and, uh, we'll use this for many different treatments, but, uh, we'll put that on the eye.

Uh, so we'll do a lot of those surgical sort of surgical procedures that can be done in office. 

but, but but again, if you need to have your eye cut open, do cataract surgery, you need to have a retinal surgery. I'm not going to touch that. I'm going to hand that to the specialist who's been doing that nonstop every day,

Jacqueline: I would definitely have chosen the same path that you did. Um, question for you though. So you mentioned strabismus. Are there any eye exercises that folks could do? I mean, that obviously is more of a, you know, more on the severe side of the spectrum, but I don't know. Are there just like general, like, just like we work out our muscles in the gym, like, are there eye exercises that we could be doing every day?

Dr. Joseph Allen: You know, uh, there are some you can do, uh, and I think they may have utility for helping some people with eye flexibility and some of their eye strain to some [00:42:00] degree. The most historical one, which, uh, is just called pencil pushups. So, uh, this is one where you just matter of taking a pen or a pencil and you hold it out about arm's length away and you focus it so you see one pen, uh, or one pencil.

And then you slowly bring that inward toward your nose until the point where you can just see it go fuzzy. Like you can't clear it up, no matter how hard you try to focus, you can't clear it up. And sometimes you eventually can clear it up and then you try to push a little further. You try to get it to your nose or when you start to see it break into two pens or two pencils, and then you kind of slowly push it back and you do that multiple times.

And there's, there's varying versions of this. Uh, one of my favorites is using what's called a Brock string. It's basically a string with three marbles on it. Uh, it can have up to like five or six different marbles on it, but you space those marbles out across a different, uh, a certain amount and, and then you train your eye muscles to jump between these marbles and then slowly [00:43:00] control it.

Uh, and this is used mainly for eye muscle conditions like convergence insufficiency for, these are for like young kids or adults who can't bring, bring their eyes together to cross. Otherwise they see double all the time. Uh, And we use this also for traumatic brain injury patients. It helps them rehabilitate faster. Uh, the, the use in, like somebody who has a normal eyes and doesn't have one of these conditions, again, it may improve their eye teaming and flexibility. And it may ward off the development of presbyopia a little bit, but ultimately presbyopia will Eventually set in uh, but I think it's something that if people are having trouble with eye strain eye teaming doing some of those exercises may Kind of train the neurological connections between the eye the brain the focus and that can help in that regard.

Jacqueline: Interesting. Yeah, so you mentioned [00:44:00] TBI. I have had a history of some pretty severe concussions, all not, not sports related. That's the irony. I played sports, but none of them happened from a, from a sports incident, but I suffered from blurry vision I want to say for up to almost three months after my head injury, so in addition to some of those exercises that you just outlined for people who are recovering from concussions and are experiencing eye issues, what else could they start to include into their routine?

Dr. Joseph Allen: so, uh the very Earliest thing I would say is certainly have an eye exam Let them know that you've had a concussion or some sort of head injury Uh, there is research showing that even small amounts of refractive error Uh are beneficial to correct when you've had traumatic brain injury so they can bring bring some Um comfort to the eyes and balancing out how your eye muscles are working because You may have one stronger eye than the other and so if you're using your muscles more in one eye To compensate for the other it can lead to things like not only eye strain [00:45:00] but headaches Light sensitivity is a big one after brain injury. So, uh, you know sunglasses one component there There is some fascinating new newer research since 2016 on different colors of light and how that stimulates our neuroanatomy. So when I was doing my residency that had a TBI rehabilitative component, we would often prescribe, uh, glasses that are quite literally rose tinted glasses using a filter called FL 41.

Um, ever heard of those or seen those?

Jacqueline: I've heard of rose glasses, but not in the context of like concussion recovery. That's

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah. Uh, and so we would prescribe those glasses because they would help, um, reduce levels of light sensitivity related to migraines and. More recent research, since I finished my residency, uh, they found green light, certain wavelengths of green light, much more beneficial for photosensitivity related to [00:46:00] migraine, uh, and so, uh, there are some companies now coming out with green tinted Glasses that filter to that specific wavelength of light to, uh, reduce this kind of this neurological trigger component to wavelengths of light.

So, So, there is, there is some information about that, and I think it's worthwhile for anybody who's had head injury to at least ask their doctor if they heard of this, uh, usually. Usually it's a very sub specialty of I care that does vision rehabilitation or what's called Nora. This is neuro optometric rehabilitative association.

These are eye doctors who specialize in traumatic brain injury that specialize in vision rehabilitation But there's there's a lot of eye muscle exercises And certain certain kind of tips and tools that they may be able to provide

Jacqueline: That's so interesting. Yeah, I mean, I [00:47:00] was just told to stay in the dark for months on end and don't really do anything,

Dr. Joseph Allen: it does take time. You know, the brain has to heal I've got a One of my gym buddies he fights MMA and he took a strong blow to the head and he had to sit out He had to quit for like three months just to let everything You Because he noticed like memory problems and he concentration problems, sleep problems.

Um, you know, we have to be, I think we have to be a little bit more aware and cautious about like the, the, the health of our brain.

Jacqueline: Yeah, and just going back to those exercises though and even like the rose colored glasses Is there a certain time like once someone? sustains a head injury That I guess like they'd receive the most benefit from those treatments or can it be like even past a year

Dr. Joseph Allen: Certainly the earlier, the better, uh, usually six months. That first six months is the most critical period. Um, I still think after a year, uh, for people who are suffering, it's, uh, you know, [00:48:00] whether it be headaches, whether it be focus issues, uh, it's, I think it's still worthwhile to have an evaluation and see if there's anything that could help.

You know, the neuroplasticity of the brain, we used to think after the, you know, the age of. Eight to eleven years old that it was shut off, but we've we've learned that no, there's some it might be less But there's still neuroplasticity of the brain to relearn new things to make new connections And after any sort of head injury, it's I think it's really important to get that To kind of go back to go back to reforming connections and heal

Jacqueline: Yeah, absolutely. It's funny. I mean, we learn from our experiences, right? And I certainly learned a lot about concussion recovery through mine, such that whenever my friends sustained head injuries, right away. I'm like, take your fish oil, take your Arnica, like load up on lion's mane mushroom, like all these proven supplements that we know like stimulate BDNF and help your brain heal.

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah lions manes fascinating. Uh, there's not a whole [00:49:00] lot of research on that for the eyes but uh, I do think it's it's it's fascinating the um, the omega 3 though, that's that that I have uh another kind of interest down that path in nutrition because the retina photoreceptor is about 60 percent of the The phospholipids in the retina are DHA omega 3.

Jacqueline: interesting.

Dr. Joseph Allen: And there's a lot of epidemiological studies showing that people who consume more oily fish, like with a Mediterranean diet, they are less likely to develop macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy. Uh, however, people who take omega 3 supplements, even DHA supplements, don't have the same exact evidence in the research.

Um, until this last year, a few years, this last few years, they've, uh, been doing studies on Alzheimer's because they're trying to understand how omega 3 could be beneficial for Alzheimer's. And they [00:50:00] found that not all omega 3s or forms of omega 3 cross the blood brain barrier. And the blood brain barrier is very similar to the blood retinal barrier, because the retinas is an extension of the brain.

Uh, and so now that they have, um, it's called a lysophospholipid form of DHA. And they've been able to synthesize that and feed it to rats and find that that greatly reduces their development of retinal disease. So I think again, in the next few years, as more research comes out, we're going to see this like hyper focus on this different form of.

Of dha and omega 3 Uh that may be beneficial not just for the eyes, but very much so for the brain.

Jacqueline: Interesting. So with that, I mean, would you say that it's necessary, it's like, beneficial for folks to supplement with a regular oil right now, or?

Dr. Joseph Allen: Um, Right now it's not quite as clear when it comes to retinal disease. There are some studies that show some support for it. Um, but [00:51:00] the exact dosage It's a little bit unclear. So right now I still see The most evidence for eating, uh, oily fish, uh, you know, once or twice a week does provide more of that specific lysophospholipid DHA versus, um, because the process of, of breaking down and making fish oils doesn't have that, uh, doesn't have as much of that lysophospholipid DHA component.

Um, and even fish don't have a whole lot, but they have more than what's in the supplements.

Jacqueline: Right

Dr. Joseph Allen: um, so I do point toward the evidence that, you know, the evidence shows that people who eat fish are less likely to have these things. Um, uh, I think omega 3 supplements are beneficial for other things in the body.

So I still do take them and I'll recommend them for some patients with dry eye.

But um, I think we're, we're still kind of. It's like red light. We're waiting for more research.

Jacqueline: Yeah. I'm curious for you. What's your daily supplement [00:52:00] regimen?

Dr. Joseph Allen: Hmm. So, uh, I do take a lutein and zeaxanthin eye supplement. Um, uh, even though I eat largely vegetarian, um, you know, I, I guess I, I eat Mediterranean diet. I do eat fish occasionally. Um, but, uh, I eat lutein, uh, I take a lutein and zeaxanthin supplement. What else do I take? Uh, so right now I am taking an algae based omega 3, um, because I'm doing a self study trying to see how algae omega 3s affect my dry eye.

I actually weaned myself off of fish oil omega 3s for about four or five months, uh, to let myself go back to baseline of what I was getting with just food, uh, and now I'm testing my blood levels and my dry eye, uh, levels, um, for at least three, four months to see what kind of an effect I get off of algae based. 

Jacqueline: Are you going to publish your results?

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah, yeah. Um, well, I did like a YouTube video on it last year when I did, uh, using it, the fish based oil. Um, [00:53:00] and so I'm going to kind of do a second, like a part two of it, testing algae based because there's really no published research using algae based omega 3 on dry eye. So, uh, I'm kind of just You know, only an N of one.

It's not that significant. It's

anecdotal. But, 

Jacqueline: I experiment on myself all the time.

Dr. Joseph Allen: right. Uh, I do take creatine, um, not just for weightlifting, but also for neurological benefits. Um, there's a lot of interesting research on that. Um, and I actually, and again, it's anecdotal, but it's also published in research that, um, people who take creatine sometimes have less problems with mental health issues.

And I've struggled with depression at times in my life and with taking creatine, um, I've, I've found that life is, I just don't seem to have as, as low of lows as I've had in the past.

Jacqueline: Interesting. I recently started supplementing with that too.

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah. So, um, for any, for any reason, under any guidance or.

Jacqueline: I heard, I heard muscle recovery. I started to get more interested in weight lifting, [00:54:00] so I'm like, hmm, how can I optimize my muscle health? 

Dr. Joseph Allen: Right. Uh, 

Jacqueline: it regularly. I'm more, 

Dr. Joseph Allen: okay. I'm I'm not a specialist in the exercise physiology, but it's in my free time and I'm not studying. I care. I study a lot of nutrition and lifestyle medicine sort of things. So, uh, at least, you know, they say 5 milligrams of the creatine creatine monohydrate per day better for muscle mass building, but even just as low as three milligrams per day is effective for more of mental benefits.

Um, but again, I think if anybody's looking into that, definitely consult other other professionals in that space. Um, but it's something that I found I found has helped me. 

Jacqueline: I try to derive most of my nutrients from food. I think that's obviously like the best route, and I too eat pretty 

Dr. Joseph Allen: hundred percent. 

Jacqueline: based, but yeah, there are a few things that I supplement with occasionally.

Dr. Joseph Allen: The vitamin D is one that here in Minnesota, you know, I'm indoors a lot of the time, have been my whole life. [00:55:00] Uh, you know, I'm, I'm super pale, uh, when I am outside in the summer, I'm wearing sunscreen. Um. But in the wintertime, even if I do go outside, I don't get that much sunlight exposure because I'm wearing a jacket, you know, I'm completely covered.

So, uh, during the winter months, I do try to take like maybe a thousand milligrams of vitamin D. Um, but, uh, I also try to be cautious of that. I tried, I'd rather have it from a natural sources. You also, most people also drink, uh, get vitamin D supplemented in forms of fortified foods anyway.

Jacqueline: Yeah. Interesting. If you weren't doing optometry right now, what would you be doing?

Dr. Joseph Allen: Uh, it's, it's tough. I've considered going back to school and getting like a second degree in nutrition or something like that. I would probably be a physiology professor at like a university just because I, I just, I can read textbooks on like neuroanatomy and physiology and electron potentials.

And, and it's just, it's, it is beautiful, right? That's, um, [00:56:00] that's one of the best things about life is like when you just have that sense of wonder of how. Amazing the science and like how things work in your body. Um, I think that was when I realized I really wanted to go into health care, was studying physiology in college.

And we started studying of all things, um, like cocaine addiction and understanding how the receptors change in the synaptic cleft due to dope. Like it just blew my mind. And I was like, this is so cool.

Jacqueline: It's crazy. I don't know. I'm, I'm the same way. If I could just be reading health books all day and just studies, I, that would be my, my happy place right there. But this is fun too, to have conversations with, 

again, people like you. And I, I learn so much from these podcast episodes. That's why I enjoy doing it.

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah, it absolutely is amazing. Um, I'm fortunate enough uh, you know, I started my YouTube channel, the Dr. Eye Health channel in 2018 and, uh, when I started it, I just had, I just wanted to share my knowledge to make it available [00:57:00] for people to learn about the eyes and vision, um, help people understand what to buy better when it comes to things like glasses and contacts.

And it took off. And now I live this crazy life where I get to still help patients out in the clinic, but I get to, research these things that I'm interested in and make cool videos, um, and make lectures where I teach other doctors. Um, I'm very fortunate. 

Um, 

yeah, Are you accepting new patients? Can I come see you?

you're more than welcome to. Absolutely.

We do have several. Uh, I have, I've been fortunate enough. I've had people travel around the world to come see me. Um, Which is, it always puts you on the spot a little bit. You're like, Oh, you know, like this is like a, 

they traveled. Yeah. Yeah. This person's a VIP. We better make sure we, we put on our best show here.

Um,

Jacqueline: an incredible job balancing everything. So you mentioned your YouTube channel, but where else can listeners find you?

Dr. Joseph Allen: certainly, uh, you know, the, the big ones like Instagram, I even have a TikTok channel. Um, those are the big [00:58:00] places. Trying to think we do have a we do have a podcast, but it's more for eye doctors

Jacqueline: That's exciting. I didn't know that.

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah, yeah, it's you know, we're kind of it's it's in its infancy. It's only but about a year and right now we're mostly just Um, uh, it's called I give a damn,

Jacqueline: I love that.

Dr. Joseph Allen: uh, but it's, it's interviewing other big names in my industry who are big researchers, they're leaders, they're, um, entrepreneurs, people who are starting new businesses, um, developing new software technologies that they're all big leaders in the eye care profession who clearly give a damn about what they do.

And so it's, it's. Maybe less of a deep dive into the research and science of it, unless they're like a researcher. Um, like we had Lisa Ostrin She's a PhD researcher at one of the optometry schools here in the US and she does a lot on blue light So we did like a deeper dive into blue light therapy with her Or not blue light therapy, but blue light research that she does but a lot of [00:59:00] it's just interviewing these entrepreneurs These very bright mind individuals and getting to understand like what motivates them What, what, what bothers them, what they're passionate about, um, and kind of learning from them.

Jacqueline: That's incredible. 

Dr. Joseph Allen: yeah, it's, it's been a fun journey and we'll see where it goes.

Jacqueline: I love that. Well, I mean, you could say my podcast is technically still in its infancy too. It's not even a year old. I started it last May have about 40 episodes so far. So. 

I'm still quite the novice, but it's, it's been fun.

Dr. Joseph Allen: I think it's impressive. I started listening to a bunch of your episodes and I loved it. Um, they're very good, you know, um, and good questions. Good. Just, um, conversation back and forth.

Jacqueline: I appreciate it. Well, this has been so fun, Dr. Allen. I'd love to have you on again, but I do want to be conscious of your time. My very last question for you though is what does being well and strong mean to you?

Dr. Joseph Allen: So well, and strong, uh, You know, for me, well, is, you know, the opposite of being [01:00:00] sick. It's, you know, taking care of yourself, you know, um, operating in kind of your higher capacity to stay healthy. Um, I think that's what wellness means to me, but then, uh, the strong component is not as much of just like strong, like fit strong to me

it's honestly being more resilient, you know, life life is going to have its ups and downs. You're going to have some hard times, whether that be from physical ailments from the environment, mental challenges, loss of friends, loved ones, um, economic hard times. And so, uh, you know, Hopefully if you're well, if you're taking good care of yourself physically, mentally, spiritually, emotionally, you're going to be more resilient against those harder times in life. 

Jacqueline: love that. And just when you said that, that reminded me the olive branch, which is my, my symbol is one of the most resilient plants. So resiliency is definitely a [01:01:00] core, a core value of, of my brand. So I love that you mentioned that.

Dr. Joseph Allen: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Jacqueline. This has been fantastic. 

Jacqueline: Thank you. Yeah. No, I can't wait to share this with listeners.


Dr. Allen's approach to eyecare
The myth behind carrots being the best food for eye health
The best foods for eye health
Why green leafy vegetables are so powerful for eye health
How an eye exam can detect underlying medical conditions
Is an annual eye exam necessary?
Hot to deal with digital eye strain
The importance of posture
How to prevent vision decline
Red light therapy for eyes: good or bad
Why you should avoid staring into direct sunlight
Sunglasses: are they bad for your health?
What to look for when shopping for sunglasses
What time of day you should be wearing sunglasses
Eye floaters: what are they?
Eye exercises?
Concussions & eye issues
Supplements for eye health?