Eyeballs, reticular activating system, and Jake's observation about saccadic eye movements

The optic nerve has a direct synapse on the reticular activating system, which in turn regulates arousal and consciousness. Dr. Huberman explains that this connection results in a unique relationship between visual habits and states of mind: visual focus on a single object produces a distinct psychophysiological state as opposed to letting the eyes rest on landscape. Allowing the eyes to saccade over a landscape allows the nervous system to tone down arousal.

Jake Steiner shared an observation in a recent youtube post that people who wear glasses change the position of the head, rather than move the eyes around, to visually take in an environment.

I hypothesize the following interaction - wearing glasses causes a longterm shift towards perpetual low-grade arousal, and deprives us of the psychophysiological release that vision would otherwise cue. A simple piece of curved glass causing profound and persistent changes in our mental and cognitive habits.

All my life, I assumed so much of my personality was due to some genetic innate thing… (and yes, my DNA reveals some pretty weird mental and psychological predispositions; like anybody else, I have to assume) this realization separates me from something I thought was PART of me, a certain cognitive-mental-psychophysiological profile / default state, giving me distance from it.

So besides improving my myopia, I’m playing more with saccadic eye movements, and they feel… so unnatural. For now. How beautiful though that a journey to improve my myopia ties into the toughest nut to crack - how to change WHO you are…


this is why I came to say that there’s no substitute for out door distance vision. one thing that helps is to expand my awareness to include the temples of the glasses on each side when outdoors

when I’m doing eye tracking exercises I’m definitely limited by how much my glasses cover.

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Interesting hypothesis, but of course there are still saccadic movements even with glasses, as we move over the images, and especially the text on our screens or books. But there would be little of it in the periphery, and this might be as crucial as simply a wider range of saccadic movements. Contact lens wearers have much less of a problem with this.

I do not think my personality has been affected in any way by being myopic, but then I have always worn my glasses as little as I could get away with, and effectively ditched them 31 years ago other than for a little driving. I would be a little more reluctant to make such a big connection between who I am and myopia. I have known myopes who could not function without glasses but who were highly social, energetic extroverts. My brother is one of them, but for the sake of being able to play golf without glasses he had LASIK and ended up having to wear reading glasses.


I think it the saccadic movements do need to be larger - EMDR is using bigger movements than the ones you are engaging while reading. That is the same type of vision behavior Dr. Huberman is invoking when speaking to the effect of visual focus and mental state.

I imagine even the size of the lens would play a role - I have always worn very narrow frames.

The relationship I suggest isn’t directly between myopia and who I am - it is really, in a somewhat serial fashiom between myopia, correction, visual habits, arousal (in the physiological sense), gradual changes in how we identify with our states of mind. (not necessarily anything about being extroverted or introverted - moreso about having chronic elevated arousal, or even just chronically engaging one such input)

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Good point about EMDR, although a similar effect can be induced with walking or jogging, as the head movements engage the vestibular-ocular reflex. Large frames also make a difference, except that the lenses distort peripheral vision and make it likely that one engages in less of it.

The concept of permanent low level arousal with wearing glasses which restrict one to tunnel vision is an interesting one, and this could possibly lead to long-term changes in the physiology. When I think of who I am I think of my personality and my character, unless I am doing Buddhist meditation and come to the conclusion that I am nothing. :open_mouth: (A temptation too difficult to resist :wink:)
I don’t want to turn this into a joke, and will give your suggestions some serious thought. It might be interesting to start a thread asking forum members to give some examples of how they have been influenced/changed by being myopes.

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“I don’t want to turn this into a joke” - Any idea you can’t laugh at just isn’t a strong idea :stuck_out_tongue:

This will probably always have to be speculation because of the subtle nature of the suggested effects. But Huberman’s research is pretty unequivocal - panoramic vision has immediate effects on the state of the nervous system. (I used to think EMDR was woowoo until I saw what his lab has been doing). Actually, maybe not impossible to test… it might be revealing to see if there are differences in the relaxation responses induced by panoramic vision between people with glasses and people without.


for me i definitely do relax more when i go into panoramic vision as much as possible w glasses

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I developed very bad anxiety around the time I got glasses, though I had a fairly stressful childhood so whether the two are related is anyone’s guess. But it did make me self-conscious, worse at sports, and prone to ground focusing. Small frames, plus I was a kid so it was very easy to internalize the stress from the environment and make it part of my personality. Overall, I’d say the social and psychological factors play a big role and might be the difference between those who developed anxiety with glasses and those who didn’t.
High alertness and inability to relax outside though, I definitely experienced that. Now, not so much because I’m aware of it and I wear only big clear frames or nothing at all, and look around me instead of at the ground.

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Ah yes, I also was shoe gazing! I wonder also if that correlates with wearing correctives…

for me it’s more like I eventually was prescribed glasses that benefited my physical and mental health but that’s after I got a full functional visual evaluation and shopped around for a frame that fit my face, met the definition of a good frame for therapeutic lenses, was flattering, and I asked the employees of the local optic shop to adjust the frame til it was very comfortable.

My main issue is can’t see clearly? in most cases no real troubleshooting, just here ya go a pair of glasses (that didn’t address my eye teaming issues)

having a prism put in as needed actually improved my mental and physical health in a lot of ways. so I’m all for therapeutic lenses but not the garden variety overcorrection that we often get


I am pretty impressed by Huberman’s research. I like your attitude to having a sense of humour. It has been a saving grace for me in many a stressful moment, but I doubt if any of these were caused by myopia, other than once. I swam out on a lake in the dark and when I turned around to swim back, I couldn’t see the deck I had swum out from. At some point I had swum back far enoough to hear voices from our party, which guided me back to land.


A bird’s eyes have different placements in the head, and function differently, for very good reasons. One eye for pecking at food, and another for keeping an eye out for enemies.
But now we are going on flights of fancy, rather than down rabbit holes. :smile:

Glasses can cause anxiety, of course, but whether you feel less anxious and constrained without them depends on the degree of your myopia. As my binocular vision has never been worse than -3 (possibly less) I was always definitely happier without them.