What's Blinding The World?
by: H. J. Roberts, M.D.

The following is a report just completed by H. J. Roberts, M.D. on the damaging effects of aspartame on the eye. The corporate mascot for the NutraSweet Company is blind Mr. Magoo: amazingly appropriate in view of the following:

Dr. Roberts "EYE PROBLEMS"

It is my opinion that individuals who consume products containing aspartame, including drugs and supplements, should avoid them when no specific cause can be found for the eye problems:

* Decreased vision -- including blindness in one or both eyes
* Blurring, "bright-flashes", tunnel vision, "black spots"
* Double vision
* Pain in one or both eyes
* Decreased tears
* Difficulty wearing contact lens
* Unexplained retinal detachment and bleeding

The same precaution is reasonable for persons in whom these complaints are due to other disorders because they could be aggravated by aspartame, even in minimal amounts.

* Surgery of immature cataracts should be deferred in patients who consume aspartame until after abstaining from it for 1-2 months to determine if spontaneous improvement of vision occurs.
* Impaired vision of diabetic patients should not be assumed to be due to diabetic retinopathy without such a "no aspartame test" trial.
* A similar trial is warranted in persons diagnosed as having "macular degeneration".
* The diagnosis of "early multiple sclerosis" - based on concomitantin eye and neurologic features - should be deferred pending a "no aspartame test".

These corporate neutral suggestions are based on considerable observation, research and correspondence published in more than a score of articles and two books.

* ASPARTAME (NUTRASWEET@) IS IT SAFE? (Philadelphia, Charles Press)
(NUTRASWEET@) (Sun Sentinel Press, P. O. Box 17799, West Palm
Beach, Florida 33416, Telephone 1-800-814-9800: Fax 1 407-832-

These represent hard - won insights in the trenches of a medical
practice. Patients and consumers should not be misled by the "negative"
conclusions of flawed studies sponsored by vested interests.

There is no bias or malice intended against any company, distributor,
researcher or professional who may hold contrary views.


Each of the components of aspartame - phenylalanine (50%); aspartic acid (40%); the methyl ester, which promptly becomes methyl alcohol or methanol (10%) - and their multiple breakdown products after exposure to heat or during prolonged storage is potentially toxic to the retina and optic nerves. These organs are highly vulnerable to metabolic disturbances and neurotoxins because of their unique metabolic requirements. Methanol
causes swelling of the optic nerve and degeneration of ganglion cells in the retina.

Particular attention is directed in this regard to (1) the formaldehyde and formate (formic acid) that result from the breakdown of methyl alcohol, a severe metabolic poison, and (2) the D-aspartic acid stereoisomer.


In my publications and in testimony to Congress and FDA advisory group, I have expressed the belief that the current wholesale ingestion of aspartame products by over half the adult population constitutes a probable "imminent public health hazard." My concern is bolstered by (1) evidence that these products may play a causative or aggravating role in many other medical disorders (including headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory loss, impaired hearing, ringing in the ears, convulsions, and probably brain tumors), (2) the flawed nature of most "scientific" studies being used to prove the alleged safety of these products, and (3) reports of serious reactions volunteered to the FDA by over 7,300 irate consumers.

In the present context, these statistics are pertinent.

* In my earlier report on 551 aspartame reactors (the data base is now 833), decreased vision was a major problem in 140 {25.4%), severe pain in 51 (8.3%), and "dry eyes" or trouble wearing contact lens in 48 (8.3%). Sixteen patients have lost vision in one or both eyes.

* The FDA (as of August 1995) had received complaints about a change in vision from 384 consumers, and "eye irritation" from 30.

These complications tend to be magnified in persons with diabetes, hypertension, unrecognized hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hypoglycemia (low blood sugar reactions). reaction to MSG, treatment with aspirin and other drugs that can irritate the optic and auditory nerves, persons who smoke or drink alcohol, and problems associated with aging. They become compounded by the threat of falls and driving accidents.


Associated Insights Concerning the Sjogren Syndrome

The Townsend Letter for Doctors, Jan. 1994, by H. J. Roberts, M.D., FCCP, FACA,

"It is of use from time to time to take stock, so to speak of our knowledge of a particular disease, to see exactly where we stand in regard to it, to inquire what conclusions the accumulated facts seem to point to, and to ascertain in what direction we may look for
fruitful investigations in the future." Sir William Osler


"Dry eyes" and associated difficulty in wearing contact lenses were prominent complaints offered by 56 (8.3%) of 551 aspartame reactors. Xerostomia (dry mouth) was a frequent concomitant. The symptoms promptly improved after they stopped aspartame-containing products, and predictably recurred on aspartame rechallenge. The concomitant
joint pains, severe confusion, memory loss and depression also have clinical significance, with special reference to the Sjogren syndrome.

The cause and management of "dry eyes" challenge ophthalmologists and primary care physicians. This symptom was unexpectedly and repeatedly encountered among patients manifesting other reactions to products containing aspartame, a sweetener currently being consumed by 54% of adults in the United States. This complaint was encountered in both the routine questioning of apparent aspartame reactors and a computerized, 9-page survey of such individuals. Many also volunteered difficulty in wearing contact lenses due to decreased tears, dry mouth (xerostomia), joint pains, confusion and memory loss - all
specifically attributed to the use of aspartame products.


Data were obtained from 551 persons who appeared to have systemic reactions to aspartame. They consisted of 160 private patients or aspartame reactors who were personally interviewed, and 391 individuals who described their adverse side effects in the survey questionnaire...including observations after rechallenge. The names of the latter group were supplied by Aspartame Victims and Their Friends (courtesy of Mrs. Shannon Wroth), the Community Nutrition Institute (courtesy of Mr. Rod Leonard), and Dr. Woodrow Monte of Arizona State University.

The completed questionnaires were analyzed with the assistance of the Management Information System staff at the Good Samaritan Hospital, West Palm Beach, Florida.


Dry eyes, ocular irritation from contact lens, or both, occurred in 46 (8.3%) aspartame reactors, In addition to the sensation of local discomfort and "sand" in the eyes, the eyelids of such patients tend to become swollen and infected, at times with loss of eyelashes.

The causative or contributory role of aspartame was indicated by these clear-cut clinical correlates: (1) prompt and gratifying improvement of ocular and other symptoms following the cessation of aspartame, generally within several days; and (2) their recurrence shortly after resuming such products. This sequence predictably recurred after rechallenge with aspartame, known or inadvertent.

These observations have been duplicated by more than a score of patients complaining of dry eyes in subsequent aspartame reactors. There were related problems. For example, a physician who consumed considerable diet sodas developed a type of corneal dystrophy
generally associated with the chronic use of certain drugs (e.g., indomethacin).

Computerized correlations between aspartame-associated dry eyes, and "marked memory loss," "severe depression" and "severe mental confusion" were done on the first 362 aspartame reactors who completed the questionnaire. (There was a 30.8% response to the initial mailing of 1,177 forms.) The correlates were as follows:

* Recent aspartame-associated dry eyes and severe depression - 18 (4.9%)
* Recent aspartame-associated dry eyes and marked memory loss - 20 (5.5%)
* Recent aspartame-associated dry eyes and severe mental confusion - 9 (2.4%)

Other complaints offered by the larger cohort had considerable significance, with particular reference to the Sjogren syndrome. They included excessive thirst due to dry mouth (xerostomia) in 65 (12%), and severe joint pains in 58 (11%). It is noteworthy that three-fourths of patients in this and the large series of aspartame reactors were women averaging 50 years, a phenomenon also encountered
in the Sjogren syndrome.

Representative Case Reports

Case 1 - A 47 year-old woman complained of severe dryness of the eyes that required one bottle of artificial tears a week. Her consumption of aspartame included 10-12 glasses or cups of aspartame-sweetened beverages, the addition of a tabletop sweetener to 3 cups of coffee in the morning, and considerable aspartame pudding. She also suffered confusion, significant memory loss, intense headaches (never previously a problem), impaired hearing, lightheadedness, severe "nervousness," muscle cramps, and depressions with suicidal thoughts.
These symptoms markedly improved after stopping aspartame, and disappeared within several weeks. She no longer required artificial tears. Such dramatic improvement enabled her to travel abroad several weeks later with her church group for relief work.

Case 2 - A 36 year-old businesswoman complained of recent difficulty wearing contact lenses. She had been consuming considerable amounts of soft drinks and gum containing aspartame. These and other symptoms - including lightheadedness, headache and leg cramps - abated within two weeks after all aspartame products were avoided.

Case 3 - a 61 year-old female court reporter developed dry eyes and bilateral blurring of vision. Other recent complaints included marked memory loss, severe headache, dizziness, extreme irritability, and atypical facial and joint pains. As a result, she had been making many errors at work. The patient improved "immediately" when she ran out of
aspartame-containing beverages, and resumed regular sodas. She therefore deduced that aspartame products had been causing her problems. Her previous daily consumption included 4 cans of aspartame soft drinks, 2 glasses of aspartame hot chocolate, and 6 packets of an aspartame tabletop sweetener.


The unexpected associated of aspartame use and dry eyes offers clues concerning this symptom and the Sjogren syndrome. Other problems encountered in aspartame reactors, especially dry mouth and joint pains provide related insights.

Two reactors who complained of "thick saliva" developed enlargement and tenderness of the parotid glands. The secretory structures of the salivary glands presumably had been affected by aspartame, as well as the lacrimal glands. The affinity of aspartame for salivary glands were demonstrated experimentally by the prompt uptake of isotopically-labelled aspartame.

The Sjogren or sicca syndrome affects an estimated 2% of the adult population. The reduction or absence of lacrimal and salivary secretions results in dry eyes and dryness of the mouth. (The diagnostic lipstick-on-teeth sign consists of lipstick adhering to the upper front teeth). This disorder is presently regarding as a chronic autoimmune disorder resulting from lymphocyte-mediated destruction of these glands and changes in the points.

A vicious cycle is likely to ensue if considerable aspartame-containing beverages are consumed because of the intense thirst created by severe dryness of the mouth. Weiffenbach et al. demonstrated that taste impairment is not a necessary consequence of
salivary gland dysfunction among patients with "dry mouth" caused by the chronic absence of saliva. Accordingly, such individuals may come to prefer the taste of aspartame in satisfying their chronic thirst, with perpetuation of the sicca syndrome.

The systemic and central nervous system sequelae of the Sjogren syndrome underscore the potential importance of these findings. Cognitive impairment and lamenting features have been reported by one-fourth of Sjogren patients. Severe confusion and memory loss also
were noted in 157 (28.5%) aspartame reactors in the present series. Indeed, many reactors in their third and fourth decades asked, "Could I be developing early Alzheimer's disease?" The prompt and impressive regression of their confusion and memory impairment after abstinence from aspartame proved reassuring.

Several phenomenon may explain cerebral dysfunction associated with aspartame use. They include flooding of the brain with large amounts of phenylalanine (50% of the aspartame molecule), disturbances of neurotransmitters (especially dopamine), other effects of its three
chemical components (phenylalanine, aspartic acid, methanol), methanol-induced cerebral edema, and glucopenia due to increased insulin release and concomitant decreased food intake in an attempt to lose weight.

***************** U.S. Senate on NutraSweet ******************

The following is a letter presented before the U.S. Senate
hearings on NutraSweet. It was written by Dr. Morgan B.
Raiford, M.D., Ps, Msc Med. Ophthalmology (Raiford 1987):

"I had the opportunity, in Atlanta, Ga., to see the effects of methyl alcohol toxicity in 1952-1953 which resulted in visual damage to the optic nerves and retina in over 300 cases and the deaths of over 30 persons.

"I examined Shannon Roth on July 7, 1986, along with several other patients [65 cases as of July 10, 1986 (Roberts 1990, page 136)]. I observed evidence of effects in her eye and the eyes of the other patients that were comparable to the effects observed in the patients who suffered methyl alcohol toxicity in 1952-1953.

"There was damage in the central fibers, 225,000 of the total 137,000,000 optic nerve fibers (resulting in optic nerve atrophy) in her case, which would be comparable to that observed from patients suffering methyl alcohol toxicity. The extent of damage to these fibers would explain partial to total blindness.

"But in the kind of chronic low dose exposure to methyl alcohol experienced by Shannon Roth (in NutraSweet consumption) and other NutraSweet consumers, it is likely that they would experience the impact on the optic nerve differently in each eye.

"The important point is that the damage observed in Shannon Roth's eye was identical to the damage I observed repeatedly in the eyes of individuals whose eyes have been damaged by methyl alcohol toxicity."

Raiford, Morgan B., 1987. Letter from Dr. Morgan B. Raiford to the Office of Senator Howard Metzenbaum. The statement was put in the record before the U.S. Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, November 3, 1987 regarding "NutraSweet Health and Safety Concerns." Document # Y 4.L 11/4:S.HR6.100, page 517-518.

Roberts, H.J. 1990. "Aspartame (NutraSweetĘ):Is It Safe?" by
H.J. Roberts, M.D. The Charles Press Publishers,
Philadelphia, PA, c1990. Excerpt from page 91.

********************* Dr. James Bowen ***********************

In a statement to the FDA by Dr. James Bowen he said:

"Every known metabolite of aspartame is of marked or questionable toxicity and patently unsafe for human use. Methyl alcohol is metabolized to nascent formaldehyde in the eye, nervous system and other metabolically active organs. It immediately attacks and denatures the tissue structure proteins in which it is metabolized to nascent formaldehyde. This stimulates specific organ and subcellular autoimmunity which seems to be a preponderant source of the bad experiences reported by NutraSweet victims. Aspartic acid is a neuroexcitotoxin present in damaging amounts in its own right, at the ADI for aspartame.
Simple logic tells one that it will vastly increase the metabolism of methyl alcohol to formaldehyde in the desinosomes of the periventricular cells of the central nervous system, thus focusing the nascent formaldehyde attack there. This corresponds well with the
symptomatologies often experienced, such as Lou Gehrig's Disease (ALS), bulbar palsies, neurohormonal disorders, etc. Also visual disturbances, heart palpitations, infertility and fetal loss may be traced to aspartame ingestion. The diketopiperazine issue remains totally unresolved and dangerous. The amino acids that are released by hydrolysis, from eimers
and isomers that are either not sufficiently studied, or which are known substrates in undesirable pathological states such as Alzheimer's disease."...

************************ Merck Index ************************

Merck Index: Tenth Edition: 5816: Methanol: Methyl alcohol..wood alcohol...
"Poisoning may occur from ingestion, inhalation or percutaneous absorption. Acute Effects: Headache, fatigue, nausea, visual impairment or complete blindness (may be permanently), acidosis, convulsions..respiratory failure, death. Death from ingestion of less
than 30 ml. has been reported. .."

That's very interesting since this is what we see with aspartame, and I for one don't want methanol in my food and drink or body. Yes, it is a solvent, and thats what it should be used for not added for food.

The Merck goes on: "Industrial solvent: Raw material for making
formaldehyde and methyl esters of organic and inorganic acids ..

This is what happens in your body. Methanol converts to formaldehyde
and formic acid (ant sting poison) and causes metabolic acidosis.

In the book FUNDAMENTALS OF CHEMISTRY BY Jean Bogert, eighth edition, on page 286 it says:

"Methyl Alcohol or "wood alcohol" taken internally is a dangerous poison. It paralyzes the optic nerve and as little as 10 cc may cause blindness. Its use as a solvent in industries causes a hazard for workmen unless forced ventilation is installed, since continual breathing
of the vapors, may result in blindness. A similar hazard exists when it is used as an antifreeze agent in automobile radiators, since it is vaporized by engine heat and the toxic vapor may be swept back into the car. Methyl (wood) alcohol is sometimes present in improperly prepared distilled liquors and is added to ethyl alcohol to render it unfit for
beverage purposes. ("denatured alcohol")."

The problems coming from this in aspartame are very serious, especially so much vision loss and blindness. Even the Government says they are going to redo the currency in 1996 because people are having problems reading it and they think its coming from diabetes. Well aspartame triggers diabetes (Dr. Russell Blaylock, neurosurgeon says that in his book
EXCITOTOXINS; THE TASTE THAT KILLS) and it triggers blindness.

People begin to slur their words when they get a good deal of aspartame and lost their equilibrium. We have so many case histories where they are diagnosed as multiple sclerosis when in reality its a methanol toxicity which mimics MS. If you will read my post in nutrition
newsgroup under Coca Cola/Health-Attitude you'll see a case history of exactly that. We see these cases over and over again.

There is so much blindness from aspartame that in October, l986 the Community Nutrition Institute in Washington, D.C. filed a petition with the FDA to have it banned because of its link to blindness. (CHICAGO SUN TIMES, Friday, October 17, 1986 titled: CONSUMER GROUP LINKS NUTRASWEET TO BLINDNESS) The methanol converts to formaldehyde in the retina.

This is especially serious in diabetics because sometimes physicians think its just diabetic retinopathy when their patients are going blind. There are so many diabetics going blind because of aspartame and its just criminal. As a man told me just this last Saturday: "My mother was doing so well as a diabetic. She had been using saccharin but decided to
switch to NutraSweet. She went completely blind." I hear that so much its like a broken record. And this is just one of the reasons we are trying so desperately to get this poison off the market.

In the article in the Chicago Sun Times they quote Dr. H. J. Roberts who said: "Of 360 patients he has diagnosed as having aspartame-related problems, Roberts said, about one-fourth had decreased vision or blindness, nearly half had severe headaches and substantial numbers had epileptic seizures, confusion or memory loss, extreme depression and marked personality change." Keep in mind this was in l986 when was in about 600 products - now the patent has expired and its in 5000 products and climbing!

Here's more info about methanol from an article by Dr. Ron Austin of Norwalk, California in his newsletter BACK ISSUES TITLED: NutraSweet Friend or Foe!

"One man's (Nutra) Sweet is another man's poison! ...Methanol (methyl alcohol, wood alcohol), a poisonous substance, is added as a component during the manufacture of aspartame (NutraSweet). This methanol is subsequently released within hours of consumption in the small intestine. However, in humans this process is sped up tremendously if the methanol is ingested as a free methanol such as occurs in soft drinks after storage or in other foods after being heated. Regardless as to whether this happens or not 10% of the weight of aspartame intake of an individual will be absorbed by the bloodstream as methanol within hours after consumption. Important note: Up until date there has been no
therapeutic (healing) properties of this substance (methanol) and it has been considered to be a poison. The ingestion of two (2) teaspoons is considered to be deadly in humans."

..."Methyl alcohol has a selective action on the optic nerve and can cause blindness, the consumption of as little as 30 ml (two teaspoons) has caused death. Methyl alcohol is used as a polar solvent for plastics, paints, and varnishes, as an antifreeze, and in the manufacture of formaldehyde and other methyl compounds such as methyl amine, methyl
chloride, and methyl methacrylate. Patients may complain of lethargy (extreme tiredness), confusion, and impairment of speech, all signs of nervous system involvement. The individual may suffer leg cramps, back pain, severe headache, abdominal pain, labored breathing, vertigo and visual loss, the latter being a very important clue to making a diagnosis
of this type (methanol) poisoning. In severe cases the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs show dangerous signs of degeneration."

These symptoms are what we are seeing in the population on a grand scale, the reason for the warning flyers we distribute worldwide. People see the symptoms and realize what the culprit, and hopefully get off of it before it takes their life.

Dr. Austin goes on about CHRONIC OR PROLONGED EXPOSURE IN HUMANS: "Many of the signs and symptoms of intoxication due to methanol ingestion are not specific to methyl (wood) alcohol. For example, headache, ear buzzing, dizziness, nausea and unsteady gait (intoxicated or drunk type of walking), gastrointestinal disturbances, weakness, vertigo, chills, memory lapses, numbness and shooting pains in the lower extremities, hands and forearms, behavioral disturbances and neuritis. The most distinctive signs and symptoms of this type of poisoning in humans are the various visual disturbances such as: misty vision, progressive contraction of the visual fields (tunnel vision) mist before the eyes, blurring of vision and indistinct vision."

We are having a lot of problems with pilots having vision problems from aspartame. They are reporting to the Worldwide Pilot Hotline (214 352-4268) and keeping them quite busy. You may remember that the American Airliner that fell out of the sky in December was reported as "pilot error - tunnel vision"! Many of them are having grand mal seizures in the cockpits of commercial airliners full of passengers. In fact, I asked Mary Stoddard of the Worldwide Pilot Hotline just yesterday could she give a number of how many seizures there had been. She said: "They are still putting them in the database and haven't come to a total count as yet." They come in quite frequently. The United States Air Force warned all pilots off this neurotoxin in their journal FLYING SAFETY in May 1992.
We quote it on our flyer:

"...Some people have suffered aspartame related disorders with doses as small as that carried in a single stick of chewing gum. This could mean a pilot who drinks diet sodas is more susceptible to flicker vertigo, or to flicker-induced epileptic activity. It also means that all pilots are potential victims of sudden memory loss, dizziness during instrument
flight and gradual loss of vision." Thank you, United States Air Force! The Navy said the same thing in Navy Physiology!

And they are having a great deal of problems with methanol even in the plants. Dr. Austin quotes one case: "A 21 year old non-drinking male who had been exposed daily to the fine dust of aspartame (NutraSweet) at the packaging plant he had been working at for over one year, was complaining of blurred vision, headaches, dizziness, and depression
before his sudden death. An autopsy revealed liver, kidneys, heart and lungs degeneration (disease). The damage to the heart was as if the man had been an alcoholic between the ages of 30 and 50 and up to 50% of his food intake for over a 10 to 15 year period was alcohol. Mind you, he was a 21 year old non-drinker!! But I only have one soft drink daily
with NutraSweet, surly that can't kill me, right? "

Incidently, the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network keeps the autopsy reports on file of those who die from NutraSweet, and they have this one.

A good deal of Dr. Austin's newsletter is quoted from Dr. Woodrow Monte's report: ASPARTAME; METHANOL AND THE PUBLIC HEALTH (JOURNAL OF APPLIED NUTRITION, VOLUME 36, NUMBER 1, 1984). Dr. Monte said back then that the public use of this toxin might constitute the test of its safety! It has - we have seen all the things he said would happen on a large scale worldwide. He pleaded with Congress and the FDA to stop the insanity of marketing this poison. His eloquent concluding remarks should never be forgotten:

"I am sure you have been pressured by the petitioner's attorneys. You must remember you are the American's public last defense; you must be strong to this mandate, for once you allow usage there is literally nothing I or my colleagues can do to reverse the course."

It fell on deaf ears, and the prophecy continues to be fulfilled as aspartame continues to insult the human constitution causing disease and death -- and three worldwide organizations - Mission Possible - the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network and Worldwide Pilot Hotline send worldwide alerts warning all we can get to, to get off this toxin and
escape the horrors we see daily from this poison!



The International Society for the Enhancement of Eyesight, (founded 16 Jan 1995) is a home page and a mailing list dedicated to promoting better natural eyesight for everyone! Simple, safe, and easy techniques have been known for at least a century that you can employ to prevent, lessen, and possibly completely eliminate blurry vision.
These techniques of the "Art of Seeing" have been simply ignored by mainstream optometry and ophthalmology. It's time to change all that! You have nothing to lose but your glasses! Browse this page and subscribe to our mailing list!

Documents on the Enhancement of Eyesight

    * I SEE mailing list archive
    * Natural Vision FAQ (140K), maintained by Vic Cinc
    * Bates Method in a Nutshell
    * Eye Chart in RTF (Macintosh) or PostScript format
    * Finding Help
    * How to Eliminate Hyperopia by Dr. Merrill Allen -- if your child
    has a crossed or wandering eye, take this document to your eye
    * NutraSweet (aspartame) -- poison for the eye!
    + Aspartame and Blindness etc.
    + Aspartame and Dry Eye (and worse) -- a clinical report
    * Bibliographies
    + Vision Improvement Self-Help Books
    + Research on Myopia Control
    + Alternative Eye Science
    + The Incredible Changing Cornea
    * Scientific Reports
    + Bilberry for better vision
    + Schachar's theory of accomodation (courtesy of Erol Basturk)
    + Everard Home's lectures on human corneal accommodation
    o Proof of corneal accomodation through action of
    extraocular muscles: anatomical and experimental
    o Demonstration of accommodation in various lensless eyes
    * Dialogues on eyecare
    + How effective is surgery for cross-eye (strabismus,
    esotropia)? Will we ever get an answer from the
    * Figures in Unorthodox Eyecare
    + William Horatio Bates, MD
    o Obituary from New York Times
    o Biography from National Cyclopedia of American Biography
    + Article on Harry Sirota "Awareness Through Vision"



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