Contents

The lowdown on eye exercises

Published: September, 2003

If you wear glasses or contacts, chances are you’ve been at least a little bit tempted to investigate the infomercials and books promoting eye exercises to improve your eyesight without surgery. Some programs even claim that faithful adherents may be able to give up their glasses. If this sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.

Purveyors of self-directed eye exercise programs have not conducted randomized trials to verify the effectiveness of their programs, and there is no medical evidence for their oft-stated claim that wearing lenses weakens the eyes and necessitates ever-stronger prescription eyewear. Furthermore, some programs are based on ideas that don’t quite square with the anatomy and physiology of vision.

Practiced faithfully, eye exercises may actually help delay the need for glasses or contacts in some people. But you don’t need to buy a special program of exercises or follow prescribed visual gymnastics to accomplish these things. If your eyes are tired from excessive close-up work — such as staring at the computer — visual breaks to focus on objects at longer distances are a good idea. And it’s important to encourage your visual system to do its best.

Exercising eye muscles will not eliminate the most common maladies that necessitate corrective lenses — namely, nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia (age-related lens stiffening). Above all, eye exercises will do nothing for glaucoma and macular degeneration.

What of the claim that glasses make eyes weaker and more dependent on wearing them? It’s largely a matter of perception. People often tolerate a lot of blur before they start wearing corrective lenses, Dr. Steinert says, but “once they get used to the correction, the same level of blur is no longer acceptable to them. So they perceive that their eyes have been weakened.” Also, the natural progression to stronger and stronger lenses that accompanies nearsightedness early in life may create the impression that corrective lenses make eyes weaker. Presbyopia (age-related lens stiffening) likewise progresses with time, so a farsighted person will find it increasingly difficult to see well without corrective eyewear. In none of these cases have glasses or contacts weakened the eyes.

Will getting a weaker prescription than you’re used to somehow train your eyes to see better, as some eye exercise programs advise? It’s certainly possible that some people wear stronger glasses than they need, so they may be able to back off their prescription a bit. You need to use your accommodative system to keep it flexible, and you can facilitate this by wearing lenses no stronger than you need. Also, don’t be in a hurry to start wearing reading glasses. But wearing weaker lenses than you need won’t help, especially once presbyopia kicks in.

Until evidence-based research proves otherwise, it’s safe to assume that nonmedical self-help eye exercise programs won’t keep you out of glasses if you need them and won’t change the ultimate course of your nearsightedness, farsightedness, presbyopia, or astigmatism. As we age, eye exercises do absolutely nothing for glaucoma or macular degeneration — serious diseases that require professional medical help.

September 2003 Update

Disclaimer:
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Most adults start developing vision issues between their mid-40s and early 50s, particularly when reading and working on computers. Poor vision at close distances is one of the most common vision challenges between the ages of 40 and 60. However, this is a normal change with the eye’s ability to focus and may progress with time.

At first, you may have to hold reading materials far away to see them. With time, you may have to remove your glasses to see reading materials up close. Under dim lighting, print newspapers and restaurant menus may appear blurred.

Your vision may improve if you wear prescription glasses or contact lenses. But, if you want to do more to improve your vision, there are other ways to do so. In this article, we explore eight ways to improve your vision over 50.

1. Eat for your eyes

Eating carrots is good for your vision. Although it may sound cliché, it’s not entirely wrong. Carrots are rich in vitamin A, an essential nutrient for vision. However, vitamin A isn’t the only vitamin that promotes healthy eye function. Make sure that you include foods rich in vitamin C, vitamin E, copper, and zinc to your diet.

As you get older, macular degeneration can become your biggest challenge. Antioxidants can help reduce macular degeneration. As such, eat foods such as eggs, pumpkins, carrots, dark leafy greens, and sweet potatoes.

Fish is also great for your eyes. Coldwater fish such as mackerel, wild salmon, and cod are rich in DHA, a fatty acid that strengthens cell membranes, including those in your eyes.

2. Exercise for your eyes

Since eyes have muscles, they could use some exercises to remain in good shape. Eye exercises are great when done in the morning, when your eyes feel tired and before retiring to bed. If you’re consistent for a month, you may start noticing a difference.

Begin by warming your eyes for five seconds with warm palms. Do it three times. Rolling your eyes isn’t just an expression of annoyance, it can help your eye muscles too. Look up and circle your eyes about ten times in both directions.

To sharpen your focus, hold a pen at arm’s length and focus on it. Move the pen closer slowly until it’s about six inches from your nose. Redo this process ten times.

3. Full body exercise for vision

Exercising for at least twenty minutes a day is healthy for your entire body, including your eyes. Improved blood circulation is beneficial to the small blood vessels in the eyes as it removes harmful substances that may have been deposited. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense. In fact, a brisk walk is enough.

4. Rest for your eyes

Closing your eyes for just a few minutes is helpful. You can do this once an hour or many times when you’re hard at work. And if your job involves sitting in front of a computer or reading, closing your eyes can be refreshing. As simple as it sounds, this exercise can protect your eyes from over exertion or fatigue.

5. Get enough sleep

Resting your eyes for a couple of minutes isn’t enough. Your body requires regular, restful sleep. Any doctor will inform you about the importance of sleep for your health and wellbeing. When your body gets enough rest, your eyes become renewed. If you engage in intense visual activity such as working on a computer or reading a book, short breaks go a long way in helping your eyes, as it gives them a chance to rest.

6. Create eye-friendly surroundings

Plenty of things that surround us everyday can be bad for the eyes. For instance, sitting for long periods of time in front of a computer, getting swimming pool chlorine water in your eyes, using dim lighting when reading, and fluorescent lights can degrade your vision. Look out for these conditions and do all you can to reduce exposing your eyes to them.

7. Avoid smoking

Apart from being unhealthy for many reasons, smoking can contribute to blindness. Smoking can increase your chances of developing cataracts and can cause age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Additionally, smoking can reduce the number of antioxidants that are beneficial to your eyes.

8. Have regular eye exams

Most people wait until they experience vision problems to get eye exams. Sometimes, that can be too late. Getting eye exams early can help diagnose problems before they become severe. In fact, most vision defects can be corrected when detected early.

Regular vision exams can help by:

  • Adjusting prescriptions for corrective lenses: Vision changes with time and the eyeglasses that were once the best diopter might be damaging your eyes now.
  • Check alignment: Sometimes turned or crossed eyes can cause strain on eye muscles. Your eye doctor can help diagnose this issue early to avoid causing further damage to your eyes.
  • Eye tone: Eye tone changes with age and a corrective lens can bridge any defects.
  • Retina exam: Blood vessels present in the retina can be signs of diabetes. Eye exams can reveal more health issues beyond vision.

Conclusion

Beyond 50, vision can be challenging. However, it can be improved with a good lifestyle, healthy nutrition, and regular eye checkups.

Sources

More than ever, we are using our eyes to stare at small type and images on computer screens, televisions, and cell phones – which leads to eye fatigue and an increase in age-related eye problems. But diminished eyesight does not have to be an inevitable part of living long. Follow these three tips to sharpen your own vision so you can see your way to a future of longevity.

Eat for Bright Eyesight
Protect your peepers with a vision-ary diet! Our eyes require multiple nutrients to function optimally. Start with these:

  • Vitamins A, C, E, and minerals like copper and zinc are essential to eyesight.
  • Antioxidants, including beta-carotene, lutein, and zeaxanthin, protect the macula from sun damage. Get these antioxidants from dark leafy greens, egg yolks, yellow peppers, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Notice any color patterns here? Current research shows that consuming yellow and green vegetables can help prevent age-related macular generation, a leading cause of blindness.
  • Foods rich in sulfur, cysteine, and lecithin help protect the lens of your eye from cataract formation. Excellent choices include garlic, onions, shallots, and capers.
  • Anthocyanin-rich blueberries, grapes, and goji berries have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can help improve your vision.
  • DHA is a fatty acid found in coldwater fish like wild salmon, sardines, mackerel, and cod. DHA provides structural support to cell membranes to boost eye health.

Exercise Your Eyes

These simple exercises will help you maintain optimal vision and may also keep those annoying eye floaters at bay. Perform these exercises first thing in the morning, before bedtime, or any time your eyes feel fatigued. Make sure that your hands are clean and that your mood is relaxed. Commit to daily practice and you may just see better results within one month.

  • Warm your eyes. Rub your palms together to create heat, and then place them against your eyes for five seconds. Repeat this three times.
  • Roll your eyes. Start by looking up and then slowly circle 10 times clockwise and 10 times counterclockwise.
  • Focus. Hold a pen at arm’s length, focus your eyes on it, and slowly bring the pen closer until it’s about 6 inches away from your nose. Then slowly move it back, keeping your eyes focused on the pen, 10 times in all.
  • Massage your temples. Using your thumb knuckles, massage your temples in small circles, 20 times in one direction and 20 in the other. Repeat the same actions above the mid-point of the eyebrows at the forehead, then below the eyes on both sides of the bridge of the nose.
  • Take a mini-nap. Put your head back, close your eyes, and relax for 3 minutes.

Give Your Eyes Some R&R

  • Getting enough sleep is essential for eye health. Sleep allows your eyes to fully rest, repair, and recover. Insufficient sleep may weaken your vision, so shoot for 8 hours of sound sleep a night.
  • Give your eyes a break once an hour during your workday: Rest your eyes 10 minutes for every 50 minutes spent reading or in front of the computer. If your eyes feel overly tired, lie down and place cooling cucumber slices over your eyelids.

Do eye exercises improve vision?

Eyes & Vision

Reviewed by Gary Heiting, OD

Self-help programs of eye exercises to improve vision come and go, and you can always find someone offering them (usually for a fee) online.

Typically, these programs — which claim to reduce or eliminate your need for glasses and contacts — produce no significant or lasting improvement in your vision, and some could be potentially harmful to your eyes and your safety.

History of eye exercises to improve vision

Eye exercises to improve vision have been around since the 1920s, when maverick ophthalmologist William Horatio Bates, MD, created a program of eye exercises that became known as the Bates Method.

The Bates Method has never been proven effective in providing significant or lasting vision improvement. Also, some activities recommended by Bates — including “sunning” (exposing the eyes to direct sunlight) and “palming” (covering the closed eyes with the palms of the hands) could potentially be damaging to the eyes.

Most modern programs of eye exercises to improve vision are based (at least in part) on the Bates Method.

Some programs of eye exercises also recommend personal affirmations to make you feel your vision is improving. For example, you might repeatedly say to yourself, “I’m seeing better each day,” or, “I can see without my glasses.”

Self-help eye exercise programs usually claim they can reduce refractive errors such as nearsightedness and astigmatism, as well as presbyopia.

Before you spend time and money on anything that promises you will be able to “throw away your glasses,” be aware that these programs are highly controversial and often there is little or no scientific evidence that shows they work.

In fact, several popular eye exercise programs — including one recent popular eye exercises program called the See Clearly Method (which in some ways resembled parts of the Bates Method) — have been removed from the marketplace for making false claims about their effectiveness.

Can eye exercises change your eyes?

To better understand if eye exercises that promise “natural vision improvement” can actually reduce

, you need to consider eye anatomy and how the eye refracts light.

Problems with how the eye is shaped typically contribute to focusing errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness (hyperopia) and astigmatism. For example:

  • When the eyeball is too short, you are farsighted and can’t focus on near objects because light rays entering your eye achieve a point of focus somewhere beyond your retina.
  • When you are nearsighted and your eyeball is too long, light rays have too far to go and “fall short” of achieving a point of focus on your retina.
  • When you have astigmatism, usually your cornea has an irregular shape, causing light rays entering your eye to split into different points of focus, creating blurry vision.
  • Another common vision problem, presbyopia, occurs with aging when your eye’s natural lens starts to lose elasticity and no longer can move properly to focus on close-up objects. This condition typically causes your near vision to start blurring, beginning at around age 40.

Eye exercises typically make you move your eye muscles to create up-and-down, side-to-side or circular motions and make you change your point of focus to different distances.

So if you are considering an eye exercise program to improve your vision, ask yourself these questions:

  • Will exercising your eyes change the basic shape of your eyeball, by making it longer or shorter?
  • Will eye exercises alter the basic shape of your cornea, and change the angle of how light rays enter your eye to achieve focus?
  • If you have astigmatism, will exercising your eyes somehow reshape your eye’s irregular surface?
  • If you have presbyopia, will eye exercises restore your eye’s lens to its once youthful elasticity that has declined due to natural aging processes?

Also, it’s very important to consider this: Are you putting yourself and others at risk (especially when driving) because you’re not seeing as well as you think you are?

Do eye exercises work?

A recent review of research published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals conducted by AllAboutVision.com failed to uncover any studies showing that eye exercises can alter the eye’s basic anatomy significantly or eliminate presbyopia — which no one escapes after a certain age.

Eye exercise programs occupy a nebulous space somewhere between medical science and folk remedy. Most optometrists and ophthalmologists are dismissive of eye exercise programs that promise you can “throw away your glasses” due to lack of scientific proof of their effectiveness.

Still, these unproven programs of “miracle” eye exercises can be found on the Internet — along with conspiracy theories alleging that optometrists and ophthalmologists know the “truth” about benefits of eye exercises but won’t tell their patients because they then wouldn’t be able to sell eyeglasses, contact lenses and eye surgery.

(Claims like these illustrate the importance of considering the credibility of sources when seeking reliable health information online.)

Before investing time and money in self-help vision improvement schemes, visit an eye doctor near you for professional advice you can trust regarding the effectiveness and safety of any eye exercise program you are considering.

Eye exercises versus vision therapy

A final note: Self-help programs of eye exercises to improve vision are not the same thing as supervised programs of vision therapy prescribed by eye doctors (usually optometrists) to correct certain eye alignment and other binocular vision problems.

Though vision therapy is sometimes (incorrectly) referred to as “eye exercises,” doctor-prescribed vision therapy includes specific activities to help correct vision problems such as amblyopia and strabismus or to enhance dynamic visual skills for sports vision.

Many types of doctor-prescribed and supervised vision therapy have been proven safe and effective by published research. But the purpose of vision therapy is not to reduce or eliminate your need for vision correction.

Page updated May 2019

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Do Eye Exercises Really Improve Vision?

Eye Fitness or Fallacy?

“Throw away your glasses! Improve vision naturally!”

“Do eye exercises really improve vision?”

There are two camps regarding eye exercises: why aren’t you doing them and why are you doing them? The kind of health blog you follow will determine which stance you’re familiar with.

Aid or Crutch?

The first group says visual aids, like prescription glasses and contact lenses, are a crutch for your eyes. They claim you can reduce or even eliminate your need for vision correction by following a regimen of eye exercises.

The idea behind this is that most people are born with good eyesight but around 70 percent of Americans have vision problems. Therefore, most of these issues are acquired through regular life events. If you did something to create them, they can also be undone through training the eye muscles. For this reason, eye exercises tend to focus on reversing myopia, or nearsightedness.

Does it Make Sense?

That kind of makes sense though, right? If your arms are weak, you get a gym membership and some barbells, and gradually increase the weights until your muscles are strong.

The problem here is that, yes, you can make muscles stronger through working out, but your eyes aren’t muscles; they are controlled by them. Each eye has six muscles on the outside which control your line of sight and one inside which moves your focus in or out. This last one, called the ciliary muscle, is what eye exercises for myopia are usually targeting. The exercises suggested are really getting you to relax this muscle. This is based on the idea that if myopia is acquired through strain and tension of the ciliary muscle, relaxing will undo it.

But vision problems like nearsightedness are refractive errors. These happen when light doesn’t reach the correct part on the inside of the eye (the retina) due to the eyeball itself being the wrong shape. Exercising the muscles in and around the eye can’t really do anything for these problems. In myopia, the eye shape is too long for the focusing muscle, regardless of how relaxed it is.

Are Eye Exercises Safe?

Depending if your stance on eye exercises is favorable or not, you might be surprised to learn these workouts are safe to do. (Just don’t drive or do anything important with your glasses off to test out any of these exercise theories!) The upside of not having a positive effect on vision is that they also don’t cause negative ones. It doesn’t hurt at all to sit on the floor with your hands over your eyes imagining being enveloped in pure darkness. Relaxation is good; just don’t expect better vision when you finally open your eyes.

Do keep in mind what you’re “learning” though. Picturing darkness just relaxes yourself, which actually might show you temporary improvement if you are suffering from eye strain, but not myopia. Rolling your eyes (like you might be doing right now at this article?) doesn’t use the interior focusing muscle at all. Reading numbers off a calendar without your glasses or contacts is just teaching you to read through your blurry vision, not to improve it.

Oh, there’s also no scientific studies or evidence to support these claims.

It might be a good idea to keep your glasses a little while longer and to have regular vision exams. They actually work, which is more that can be said for some of these eye workouts.

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Eye Exercises for Improved Vision

Not only does your body need exercise but your eyes need a workout too!

Eye health is just as important as anything else, so taking the time to exercise your eyes for people who may have myopia, or nearsightedness, and/or astigmatism are essential.

Check out these 6 easy eye exercises that have been known to improve vision and help relax your eyes.

1. Blinking

Blinking is a simple way to keep your eyes fresh and helps them to focus longer. Computer users and television watchers tend to blink less, especially when they are intently focused on something. Whenever you blink, your eyes are going into a brief period of darkness which helps to keep your eyes fresh and discharges previous information to make them ready for new information, which reduces eye strain.

2. The Figure Eight / Infinity Loop

This a great exercise for your eye muscles. This exercise helps you increase your eyes’ flexibility.

How to practice “The Figure Eight”:

1. Imagine a giant figure of eight (8) in front of you about 10 feet in front of you.
2. Now turn the figure eight on it’s side.
3. Trace the figure of eight with your eyes, slowly.
4. Do it one way for a few minutes and then do it the other way for a few minutes.

3. Near and Far Focusing

This exercise will strengthen the muscles in your eyes over time and improve your vision overall.

How to practice “Near and Far Focusing”:

1. Sitting or standing, place your thumb about 10 inches in front of you and focus on it.
2. Now focus on something else about 10–20 feet in front of you.
3. Take deep breaths between focusing on your thumb and the object 10-20 feet away from you.

4. Zooming

This exercise is a very effective eye focusing exercise, in which you have to constantly adjust the length of your focus. This helps strengthen your eye muscles as well.

How to practice “Zooming”:

1. Sit in a comfortable position.
2. Stretch out your arm with your thumb in the hitchhiking position.
3. Focus on your thumb as your arm is outstretched.
4. Now bring your thumb closer to you, focusing until your thumb is about 3 inches in front of your face.
5. Now move your thumb away again until your arm is fully outstretched.
6. Do this for a few minutes at a time throughout the day.

5. Around the World

It’s important to stretch your eye muscles to help prevent presbyopia, which may happen where the elasticity in your eye deteriorates due to the lack of eye movement, making it harder to focus on objects at varying distances.

How to practice “Around the World”:

1. Sit in a comfortable position or stand in a traffic-free area.
2. Closed both eyes or leave them open, making sure that your head does not move when conducting the following eye movements.
3. Look up and hold for 3 seconds and then look down and hold for another 3 seconds. If your eyes are opened, wait till your eyes focus on an object before moving onto the next eye exercise.
4. Look to the right as far as you can and hold for 3 seconds and then look to the left as far as you can and hold for 3 seconds.
5. Look to the top left and hold for 3 seconds and then look to the top right and hold for 3 seconds.
6. Rotate your eyeball clockwise 2 times and then counterclockwise 2 times.

6. Palming

This exercise helps relieve stress around the eyes and gives your eyes a much needed break.

How to practice “Palming”:

1. Make yourself comfortable while leaning forward on a desk or with your elbows resting on your knees.
2. Place your two hands over your eyes with the cup of your palm covering your eyes, your fingers on your forehead and the heel of your hand will rest on your cheekbone.
3. Make sure you can blink freely and are not putting too much pressure on your eyes.

Palming gives you the opportunity to rest your mind and your eyes for a few minutes at a time. It may not sound like much of an exercise but it can make a big difference in your working day if you stop for a few minutes and do this exercise.

For more eye exercises visit: http://www.wikihow.com/Exercise-Your-Eyes

15 Eye Exercises To Relax And Strengthen Your Eye Muscles Maanasi Radhakrishnan Hyderabd040-395603080 January 14, 2020

Do your eyes often feel strained? Do you constantly look at an LED screen at work, during breaks or at home? Beware! This can cause eye strain, vision problems, dry eyes, and even anxiety and headache (1), (2). Since you can’t say goodbye to your job or social media (the job of millions now), you must take out 10 minutes every day to do eye exercises. These exercises will help relieve strain, strengthen the eye muscles, enhance cognitive performance, and improve visual reaction time and the shape of your eyes (3), (4), (5). Note that there is no solid scientific evidence that eye exercises can improve vision. So, do you still require eye exercises? Yes! Swipe up to know why.

Need For Eye Exercises

More and more people today are suffering from eye fatigue and strain because of their lifestyle and career choices. Both adults and kids spend a lot of time staring at their computer screen or mobile phone. Other factors like pollution, overuse of contact lenses, and incorrect eyeglasses also strain the eyes. So, you need to do some strain-relieving exercises – after all, we only have these two precious windows to the world. Though eye exercises cannot correct short-sightedness, excessive blinking, and dyslexia, they can be of great help in aiding recovery in the following cases:

  • Poor focus due to weak eye muscles
  • Lazy eye or amblyopia
  • Crossed eyes or strabismus
  • Double vision
  • Astigmatism
  • Poor 3D vision
  • History of eye surgery
  • History of eye injury

Here are 15 eye exercises that you can do anytime, anywhere.

Top 15 Eye Exercises You Can Do Anywhere

1. The Eye Roll

The eye roll exercise is very effective, and when done regularly, it can help strengthen the eye muscles and enhance the shape of your eyes. So, the next time you hear something and roll your eyes, feel good about it and roll your eyes in the other direction to complete one rep. But since it’s an exercise, you must know the correct way to do it. Here’s how.

How To Do Eye Roll Exercise

  1. Sit or stand straight. Keep your shoulders relaxed, and neck straight, and look ahead.
  2. Look to your right and then slowly roll your eyes up towards the ceiling.
  3. Roll your eyes down to your left and from there, down towards the floor.
  4. Do this in the clockwise and anti-clockwise directions.

Time – 2 minutes

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 10 reps

2. The Rub Down

This is a personal favorite. You can do this exercise even while wearing contact lenses. This means that it can be done whenever you feel eye strain and need a quick, refreshing exercise. Here’s how to do it.

How To Do Rub Down Eye Exercise

  1. Sit or stand comfortably and briskly rub your palms together until they feel warm.
  2. Close your eyes and place a palm over each eyelid. Imagine the warmth seeping into your eyes.
  3. Remember not to press down with the palms on your eyeballs.

Time – 3 minutes

Sets And Reps – 1 set of 7 reps

3. The Moving Finger

This exercise is prescribed by doctors for people who have poor eye muscles. Here’s how to do it correctly.

How To Do The Moving Finger Eye Exercise

  1. Sit on a chair. Relax your shoulders, keep your neck straight, and look ahead.
  2. Take a pencil in your right hand and hold it in front of your nose. Focus on its tip.
  3. Extend your arm fully.
  4. Bring it back to the starting position.

Time – 2 minutes

Sets And Reps – 1 set of 10 reps

4. The Eye Press

Having a bad, stressful day at work? Here’s one exercise that will soothe your eyes and relieve stress – all in a jiffy! Here’s how to do it.

How To Do Eye Press Exercise

  1. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take a deep breath.
  2. Place a finger on each eyelid and press very lightly for about 10 seconds.
  3. Release the pressure for about 2 seconds and press slightly again.

Time – 1 minute

Sets And Reps – 1 set of 10 reps

5. Eye Massage

This exercise reduces eye strain and dryness. Follow the steps mentioned below to do it correctly.

How To Do Eye Massage

  1. Sit straight with your shoulders relaxed.
  2. Tilt your head back a little and close your eyes.
  3. Place your index and middle fingers gently on each eyelid.
  4. Move the right fingers in the anti-clockwise direction and left fingers in the clockwise direction.
  5. Repeat 10 times before changing the direction of the circular motion.

Time – 2 minutes

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 10 reps

6. Blink

Constantly staring at the computer or mobile screen can lead to both eye and mental fatigue. In fact, it happens because we often forget to blink. Here’s an easy eye exercise to solve this problem.

How To Do Eye Blink Exercise

  1. Sit comfortably on a chair, keep your shoulders relaxed, and neck straight, and look at a blank wall.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Hold for half a second and then open your eyes.
  4. Do it 10 times to complete one set.

Time – 2 minutes

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 10 reps

7. Flexing

Just like you need to flex your biceps to strengthen them, you must flex your eyes to strengthen the eye muscles. Here’s how to do it.

How To Do Eye Flexing Exercise

  1. Sit comfortably on a chair and look straight ahead.
  2. Look up without moving your neck and then look down.
  3. Do it 10 times. Then, look to your extreme right. Keep your neck straight.
  4. Look to your extreme left.
  5. Do it 10 times.

Time – 3 minutes

Sets And Reps – 4 sets of 10 reps

8. Focusing

This is an excellent exercise for your eyes and has the potential to resolve focusing issues. Follow these steps to do it.

How To Do Focusing Eye Exercise

  1. Sit 5 feet away from a window, look straight, and keep your shoulders relaxed.
  2. Extend your right arm in front of you, stick your thumb out, and focus on the tip for 1-2 seconds.
  3. Without moving your hand, focus on the window for 2 seconds.
  4. Focus on a distant object out of the window for 2 seconds.
  5. Focus back on the thumb.

Time – 1 minute

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 10 reps

9. The Eye Bounce

This is a fun exercise you can do at work, home, and even in bed. Here’s how to do it.

How To Do Eye Bounce Exercise

  1. Sit, stand, or lie down. Look straight ahead.
  2. You can keep your eyes open or closed.
  3. Move your eyes up and down quickly.
  4. Do it 10 times before stopping and resting for 5 seconds.

Time – 1 minute

Sets And Reps – 2 sets of 10 reps

10. Palming

This is a really nice relaxing and calming exercise. Here’s how to go about it.

How To Do Palming Eye Exercise

  1. Sit on a chair and keep your elbows on a table in front you.
  2. Cup an eye in each palm.
  3. Breathe in and breathe out. Feel the tension release. Relax.
  4. Do it for 30 seconds straight before releasing the pose.

Time – 2 minutes

Sets And Reps – 4 sets

11. Trace-An-Eight

All you need are a blank wall and a chair (optional), and you are all set to do this fun and effective exercise. Here’s how to do it.

How To Do Trace-An-Eight Exercise

  1. Imagine a giant lateral (rotated sideways) number ‘8’ on a blank wall or ceiling.
  2. Trace a path along this figure with just your eyes, without moving your head.
  3. Do it 5 times.

Time – 2 minutes

Sets And Reps – 4 sets of 5 reps

12. The Sidelong Glance

This is simply an exercise for healthy eyes. Just don’t creep people out by doing it in a public place. Here’s how to do it.

How To Do Sidelong Glance Exercise

  1. Sit, lie, or stand comfortably and take a few deep breaths.
  2. Keeping your head still, try to look left as much as you can, using only your eyes.
  3. Hold your vision for about 3 seconds and look in front.
  4. Look right as much as you can and hold your vision there.

Time – 2 minutes

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 10 reps

13. Writing Messages

No, I don’t mean Post-it notes or DMs. This is an exercise that soothes the eyes and tones the eye muscles. Initially, this might seem impossible, but when you do it regularly for a few days, you will experience a great difference in the agility of your eye muscles. Here’s how to do it.

How To Do Writing Messages Eye Exercise

  1. Look at a blank wall at least 8 feet away and imagine you are writing on it with your eyes.
  2. This makes the eye muscles move rapidly in different directions and exercises the weak ones.
  3. Do it for about 15-20 seconds.

Time – 2 minutes

Sets And Reps – 2 sets

14. The Double Thumbs Up

Yeah, for you! And for this eye exercise that’s so easy and effective that it will almost feel like you are doing nothing. But let me tell you, its impact on the eye muscles is like no other exercise on this list.

How To Do Double Thumbs Up Exercise

  1. Sit comfortably, keep your shoulders relaxed, and neck straight, and look ahead.
  2. Hold both your thumbs at arm’s length, directly in front of your eyes. Focus your vision on the right thumb for about 5 seconds.
  3. Shift your focus to the space between the two thumbs, preferably at a distant object, for another 5 seconds.
  4. Finally, shift your gaze to the left thumb and focus on it for 5 more seconds,
  5. back to the space between the two thumbs, and then the right thumb.

Time – 2 minutes

Sets And Reps – 3 sets of 5 reps

15. Treat The Eyelids

This exercise is based on yoga. It is extremely relaxing and stress-relieving. It also helps get rid of headache that is caused due to eye strain. Here’s how you should do it.

How To Do Treat The Eyelids Exercise

  1. Sit comfortably and massage the lower eyelids very gently with your ring fingers.
  2. Start with the inner edge of the lower eyelid and gradually move outwards.
  3. You can go on to massage the eyebrows in a similar fashion after finishing with the lower lids.

Time – 5 minutes

Sets And Reps – 5 sets of 10 reps

These are the 15 best effective exercises that will help strengthen and relax the eye muscles. Apart from these exercises, here are a few tricks to get relief from eye strain.

Other Effective Eye Strain Relievers

  • Hot and Cold Compresses

This can be a great end to a hard day at work. Take a bowl of hot water and another of cold water. Dip and lightly squeeze one hand towel or washcloth in each bowl. First, place the hot compress on your eyes and eyebrows. Feel the warmth and savor it for about 5 seconds and then switch to the cold compress for 5 seconds. Repeat at least 5 times.

  • Take A Nap

Sleeping or taking a short nap is the best way to relax and rejuvenate your eyes. In fact, taking power naps can improve your productivity and enhance brain function. So, give your eyes some true rest. Also, do not sleep or wake up to laptops or mobile phones. Keep them away, close your eyes, relax, and fall asleep.

Doing all this helps, but you must also eat healthy and follow good hygiene to enhance your eye health. Take a look at a few tips for good eye health.

Tips For Good Eye Health

Here’s what you must eat and avoid to keep your eyes healthy.

  • Increase your intake of beta-carotene and lycopene-rich foods or take vitamin A–rich supplements.
  • Maintain good hygiene of the eyes by washing them properly with cool water or rose water every day. Rose water is effective in reducing eye strain and itching, especially in summers.
  • Avoid touching the eyes without washing your hands.
  • Keep a check on the condition of your contact lenses.
  • Avoid too much sun exposure and try to wear UV protection sunglasses or a hat when you venture out in the sun.

There are also a few other things that you must be careful about. Take a look at the next section to keep your eyes safe and healthy.

Things To Remember

  • In case you suffer from short-sightedness or farsightedness, visit your eye doctor regularly and replace old contact lenses as directed by him/her.
  • If you contract any allergy or eye illnesses like a stye, pink eye, , do not self-medicate. Visit a doctor promptly.
  • Eye exercises cannot reverse any eyesight problem, so before subscribing to any company that promises to do so, talk to your doctor.

To conclude, these exercises for eyes are simple to do and easy to remember. They can be done at home or work during a few minutes of free time. Stop making excuses. Your eyes are Nature’s most special gift, and you need to preserve them to maintain your connection with the world. So, keep ’em rolling! Cheers!

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

If I do these exercises, will I still need to wear glasses?

Yes. Eye exercises don’t treat any eye problems. They only strengthen and relax your eye muscles and may prevent further degeneration of the problem.

Could eye exercises help fix an esotropic, half-blind right eye?

No. You must seek a doctor’s help immediately.

Is closing my eyes tightly and opening them a good exercise for my eye muscles?

Do not close your eyes too tight. It may increase the strain and might even cause headache. Do a few exercises from the list above for relief.

Can you strengthen the eye muscles?

Yes, if you train your eyes regularly, you can strengthen your eye muscles. If you have some infection or condition, you must talk to a doctor first.

How do you make your eyes look bigger?

Do the side to side, up down, and eye roll exercises to make your eyes look bigger.

Recommended Articles:

  • Yoga For Eyes – Improve Your Eyesight With These Easy Exercises
  • 3 Best Eye Exercises For Astigmatism
  • 15 Foods To Maintain And Protect Your Eyesight Naturally
  • 5 Yoga Exercises To Get Rid Of Puffy Eyes
  • 10 Best Eye Massagers

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Maanasi Radhakrishnan

I have been an ardent book lover since childhood. I have always had a penchant to writing, and enjoy simplifying the most complex of ho-hum subjects and making them interesting reads!When not writing, I also enjoy travelling, and particularly wish to trot the globe someday!

4 Powerful Eye Exercises for Rapidly Improving Your Vision

If you take care of your eye health, not only will you see better, you will also feel better, and you will positively affect your whole body’s health. In addition to the eye exercises aimed at combating specific disorders and conditions, I have developed ten important vision exercises that are perfect for incorporating into your daily life. These exercises are based on my nine principles of healthy vision:

1. Deep Relaxation
2. Adjusting to Light Frequencies
3. Looking at Details
4. Looking into the Distance
5. Expanding Your Periphery
6. Balanced Use of the Two Eyes
7. Balanced Use within Each Eye
8. Body and Eye Coordination
9. Having Adequate Blood Flow to Nourish the Eyes
10. Vision and Body

These are the essential principles of vision health, and can be attained by consistently practicing the fundamental eye exercises in this article.

Exercise 1: The Long Swing

I will never forget when I met Alan. He was a young French-Canadian banker who, while driving home after a long and tiring meeting at his bank, fell asleep at the wheel and found himself in intensive care three days later. By the time he woke up, they had replaced his forehead with platinum. He had lost all his vision. The optic nerve in his left eye was destroyed, in addition to most of the optic nerve in his right eye. But that little bit of nerve tissue remained, so Alan discovered that he still had some visual sensation.

The physicians thought that only four percent of his potentially functional nerve was not enough to regain any vision or eye health. Alan heard about my book The Handbook of Self-Healing. In it, I suggested that people who are legally blind start working with blinking lights in a dark room. Alan experimented with the techniques and eye exercises to improve vision in the book, and sure enough, the little bit of remaining optic nerve woke up. He called me in San Francisco and soon came out for a series of therapy sessions to improve his eyesight naturally. Alan’s girlfriend held his hand to walk him into the office because he couldn’t see most objects. His brain did not yet know how to use that little bit of remaining healthy nerve tissue in his right eye.

During our first session, we practiced an eye exercise called the long swing. As he did this exercise, he said, “I’m noticing twelve objects that I’ve never noticed before in the room.” Within minutes, his sense of orientation built up even more. When the series of sessions finished, he no longer needed to be led around. The long swing is what is called an integrative eye exercise to improve vision. It allowed Alan to perceive a sense of space.

The long swing vision exercise develops a sense of fluidity and flexibility that will allow you to look at details with more ease, to adapt to light more easily, and to adapt to new, livelier visual habits, as well as experience better overall eye health.

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How to Do the Long Swing

Stand with your legs slightly more than hip width apart, and your knees slightly bent. Hold your index finger about one foot in front of your face, pointing up to the ceiling. Look at your finger with a soft gaze. If you are legally blind, or even with correction have very poor vision, you can look at your index and middle fingers together to perform this eye exercise. While looking at your finger, swing your body from side to side. As you swing to the right, twist your body so that your left heel rises slightly off the ground. As you twist your body to the left, your right heel raises slightly off the ground. If your hand becomes tired, you can switch hands. Do this at least twenty times.

You will notice the sensation that everything in the background seems to be moving in the opposite direction of your finger, like scenery passing by you as you look out the window of a train. Allow yourself to feel the sense of relaxation that comes when you don’t need to place a hard focus on any one object. Move to the right, and the world moves to the left. Move the left, and the world moves to the right. Move slowly, and the world will move fast for you in this eye exercise to improve eyesight.

Now hold your finger horizontally in front of your face. Move your finger up and down in front of you, moving your head vertically along with your finger. Remember to continue to hold a soft gaze as you do this eye exercise. When you move up, everything in the background seems to be moving down. When you move down, everything seems to be moving up.

Next, hold your finger in front of you and do the long swing, pointing your finger to the ceiling as in the first explanation, but this time, as you swing to one side, bend at the waist and sweep down in a half circle—just to knee level. Don’t lower your head below your knees, but continue the swing until your arm is fully extended and you are looking up at your finger. This part of the long swing eye exercise should relax your eyes further, one of the principles of how to improve eyesight and vision health.

The next step of this eye exercise to improve vision is very important. This is where we visualize the long swing. We close our eyes and do the movement with our bodies, and visualize in our mind’s eye that the world is swinging back and forth, passing in front of our eyes. Everything you visualize is moving directly opposite. When you move to the right, the neighborhood moves to the left. When you move to the left, the neighborhood moves to the right. Remember how you saw objects this way. Now visualize the whole world moving in the opposite direction of your swing. Now you open your eyes and continue the eye exercise.

When you look in this way, you stop yourself from freezing. It becomes easier to look at details and much easier to blink. Remind yourself to blink. Blinking is vital to eye health will help you to relax.

When I started to work on improving my eyesight and vision health, my eyes had a constant nystagmus, which is an involuntary rapid movement of the eyes caused by continuous strain from trying to see the world with a total lack of success.

So, I practiced the long swing for about forty minutes a day, and it immediately eased the involuntary flutter of my eyes. I had a feeling of more light entering my eyes. Details started to appear in the background, and when I started to look at details like windows and books on shelves, they gradually became clearer and clearer to me. Long swinging helped improve my vision naturally and prepared my brain for new vision exercises.

When you practice the rest of the eye exercises to improve vision in this article followed by long swinging, you will absorb the eye exercises better because long swinging alleviates tension and stiffness in the brain, in addition to preparing us to learn and benefit from new visual techniques.

I will never forget the time when I was walking in the streets of Tel Aviv with my eye instructor, Jacob, who was then only sixteen years old. Jacob told me to look at a building full of windows. In the corner of the windows I could see tiny, fuzzy black squares, which I later realized were air conditioners. At Jacob’s instruction, I looked from window to air conditioner, back and forth for a whole summer, not understanding why I was doing this. Slowly, by looking at windows and air conditioners, looking at patterns of squares, a new habit that improved my eyesight developed in me: a habit of looking and not freezing. Long swinging helped to prepare me for this eye exercise and alleviated the rigidity that prevented me from looking at details, which allowed the program to sink in.

The reason that long swinging is referred to as an integrative vision exercise is that it takes you away from the stress you’re used to with poor eye health. When people wear thick glasses that have a very specific focal point, they often strain their eyes so much that it becomes very difficult for them to look with vitality at the world. They look without seeing details, partially from fatigue and partially from the habits they have developed by straining to see. Long swinging breaks that tension. You cannot stare with this eye exercise to improve vision, so more light enters your eyes through the movement; therefore you won’t need to strain to bring the new programming to your brain.

The long swinging eye exercise will also help you develop your peripheral vision and create a better sense of orientation. You don’t have to swing for forty minutes at a time. In fact, even two minutes of twenty swings can help you loosen up. Think of it as warming up before a workout.

Exercise 2: Looking into the Distance

It is no coincidence that our school is located near the beach. In fact, it took us almost five years to convince San Francisco authorities and neighborhood groups to allow us to operate in this residential area. The reason this location is ideal for us is that we look at the waves on a daily basis and use their sparkling beauty in our work on how to improve eyesight naturally. They shine in sunlight and have different coloration, even in the fog. You can almost always see waves here, even when the weather is gray, which is perfect for eye exercises.

Look at the waves. Look at the sky. Look at the clouds. Look at the hills and valleys. If you are not near the beach, look out your window at the many other buildings.

When you look near, as when staring at a computer screen, you unknowingly strain your eyes. The ciliary muscles contract, and this changes the shape of your lens from flat to round. When you look into the distance, however, the ciliary muscles relax and the suspensory ligaments keep the lens flat, and more flexible, which is necessary to improve eyesight and for good eye health.

Many people in our culture are used to eyestrain from looking at computers, televisions, and books so much of the time. They pay attention to the contents and not to their eye health, which causes them to strain and affects their vision health. Looking close makes you strain. Looking with boredom makes you strain. When you strain your eyes—even when you are aware of the strain—you push on with the computer project, or the television show, or the book.

Pay attention so that your face is relaxed and your jaw is not clenched. Release and rest your eyes. If it is possible, give yourself a few hours away from close work. Even if it is a deadline you are struggling to meet, do yourself a favor and take ten minutes to do one of the simplest eye exercises to improve your vision. Rest your eyes by looking into the distance. Look at the movements of the waves or the clouds. Look into the distance.

Never look closer than forty yards away, because you need to look far enough to rest the eyes from looking near. Know that when you look into the distance, you don’t have to stay focused on one point; in a soft way, you can scan or look from point to point at various details of what you see in the distance or the horizon. With this eye exercise, remember to blink and never strain to see the distance or the horizon. If it is fuzzy, let it be fuzzy. From time to time, rapidly wave your hands to the side of your face, without looking at your hands, just noticing them or their movement. Do not do this all the time. As you are practicing this eye exercise to improve vision, massage your face from the bridge of the nose to the temples over the eyebrows on the frontal bone. Massage below your eyes from the nose to the ears, over the cheekbone, while looking into the distance. Waving your hands to the side quickly to improve vision health will help you adjust to the light more easily by expanding the areas of the retina that absorb it, and create balance.

Look into the distance for at least twenty minutes a day to improve vision naturally and eye health. If you wear corrective lenses, be brave: take your contact lenses out, take your glasses off, and allow your eyes to enjoy a breath of fresh air. One student in San Francisco came to me and said that after two and a half weeks of not wearing her lenses, she had started to feel comfortable, because of “the air bouncing on her eyes.” Using this habit along with the eye exercise to improve vision will reduce your dependency on glasses or lenses, and it will gradually strengthen your visual system.

And while I prefer that you look into the distance eight to ten minutes three times a day, it may not be part of your reality. The minimum that anyone should do this eye exercise is in intervals of four to six minutes. So if you did it twenty minutes a day in four- to six-minute intervals, four times a day, it may end up preventing cataracts, and it will also relax your eyes.

Looking into the Distance Can Help Prevent Cataracts

If you can share this simple concept with other people of how to improve eyesight naturally, you will help to create a revolution in the world by helping to prevent the predictable cataract. Today, most physicians believe that, sooner or later, most people will develop cataracts. Looking into the distance can prevent the onset of cataracts because it gives the lens its full mobility and more life.

I admit that even if you practice this eye exercise every day, you will probably not look into the distance as much as life requires you to look near. Nevertheless, looking into the distance for eight to ten minutes, three times a day, will at least allow your eyes to rest, and will compensate for the strain of looking near.

Exercise 3: Exploring the Periphery

It is impossible to strain your eyes while looking centrally if you remember to simultaneously focus on your periphery, which is the next eye exercise to improve vision. In our culture, we suppress parts of the eye that help us to see well naturally. It is a subconscious suppression. The reason we suppress the periphery is because we make it irrelevant to our lives. As we focus on objects in front of us, we simply don’t pay attention to what’s around us—a habit that is detrimental to our eye health. On the other hand, our ancient fathers and mothers, our predecessors, had to pay attention to it; in the jungle, you wouldn’t last more than a week without noticing the periphery. In fact, you would be eaten or you would starve to death if you don’t notice what was around you.

But we ignore the periphery (a crucial piece of how to improve eyesight naturally) so we can focus on computers and paperwork all day without being distracted by our environment. We try to concentrate on the task at hand, not to be distracted by the commotion around us. When we don’t notice the periphery, the strain on our central vision becomes much greater, which in time makes us use it poorly and affects our vision health. This causes us to strain our central vision, decreasing its clarity and eventually losing it. The old adage that says “use it or lose it” holds true here with eye health. With time, we lose the connection between our brain, our optic nerve, and the rod cells of the periphery. Along with genetic tendencies, this can be a cause of glaucoma.

What we need to do right now is to exercise our periphery. Try the eye exercises below to get started. You will feel that there is integration of the periphery and the center, and as a result you’ll have a sense of more brightness and more light in your eyes.

Step 1: Look into the Distance

For this vision exercise, sit somewhere comfortable where you can see something in the distance that you enjoy looking at. As you look into the distance, start to wave your hands quickly to the side of your head to notify your eyes that a periphery exists. Don’t look at your hands waving, just look into the distance. Allow your eyes to recognize the movement of your hands. Wave your hands quickly in such a way that your fingers point toward you and your wrists are loose. Do this eye exercise to improve vision for a minute or two. As you do this, you should feel your eyes release their tension; this relaxation in your eyes is vitally important to vision health.

Step 2: Small Pieces of Paper

Cut out a small piece of opaque paper, about one and a half inches by two inches, and tape the paper horizontally on the bridge of your nose, so that it is centered between your eyes. This vision exercise works to improve eyesight naturally by disrupting part of your central vision.

For this eye exercise that improves vision, walk around in a familiar environment with this paper on your nose for a minute or two. Now sit down and wave your hands quickly to the side of your head like you did before. Then, rock forward toward your thighs and back up again, bending at the hips, while you wave your hands to the side quickly. Stand up and sit down several times, moving your whole body up and down, as you wave your hands quickly to the side. As you do this, it reveals to your brain the existence of a moving periphery with which it normally does not connect unless you regularly practice vision exercises like this.

In the past, people used to walk at night, sometimes in total darkness and sometimes with light from the stars and the moon. Imagine how important it was for them to notice things moving in their periphery at night! For millions of years, our ancestors used to walk this way. Now we have the city lights at night, and our peripheral cells are hardly being used, because they are mainly designed for night vision, which can obviously affect vision and eye health.

Waving our hands to our sides in this eye exercise wakes up the peripheral cells because the rods of the retina respond to movement rather than to still images; conversely, the cones respond better to a still picture. These cones are mainly in the central part of the retina—the area called the macula—and are used to look at details. An overwhelming number of the retina’s cells are the rods, which respond mostly to the impression of movement. When we exercise these rods to improve eyesight, we take away a lot of stress from the overworked cones, and we make it easier for them to function more correctly and for overall eye and vision health to improve. Instead of the brain forcing the eye to freeze and strenuously see a picture, the brain will command the eye to look gently and easily in order to see the entire landscape better.

Next, put a longer piece of paper, one inch by five inches, on the bridge of your nose, and repeat this exercise. Then, use a paper that is one inch by seven inches. By blocking so much of your central vision through this vision exercise, and even some of your peripheral vision, you will discover a periphery that you hardly ever use consciously. Now go back to the medium-size paper and repeat the eye exercise to improve vision. Then use the small piece of paper and repeat the eye exercise a final time. You may find that a small paper now seems even smaller in your perception. That is because much of your brain that had been suppressed is now engaged in peripheral vision. To finish, take the small paper off, stand, and do the long swing so your brain will absorb the exercise you have just performed.

Exercise 4: Sunning and Skying

Surrendering to the sun briefly each day can make a huge difference in terms of our overall feeling of well-being and for our vision health.

Since the 1980s, physicians have warned us against the dangers of exposure to the sun. Now they understand the benefits of sunlight, and recommend that we have some exposure to it daily. The sun is one of the best nurturers that nature has given us. It is important, however, to adapt your eyes to the strong light of the sun. Sunning, an eye exercise to improve vision and eye health is a great eye exercise for this purpose because it is relaxing to the eyes and it can also help you with your sleep.

I once had a patient who complained about terrible insomnia. She had not slept for many nights and had a tremendous amount of tension. I taught her the sunning exercise, and massaged her in the sun. After her first session, she went home and slept right through the night; after taking only three sessions at the clinic of the school, she reported that she had slept much better. That was years ago. To this day, she practices the sunning technique to improve eyesight and has no more sleep deprivation.

Today, physicians suggest that we should not expose ourselves to the sun, except before 10 a.m. and after 5 p.m. In my opinion, we should sometimes expose ourselves to the sun even at midday. If you are sensitive to sunlight, you should start by practicing the sunning vision exercise early in the morning or near dusk, or for just five minutes at a time in the middle of the day.

To begin sunning, all you need to do is close your eyes and face the sun. Now move your head from side to side, rotating it from shoulder to shoulder. As you face the sun, the iris sphincter muscles constrict the pupils. As you move your head away toward one shoulder, the radial dilator muscles dilate the pupils, even though your eyes are closed. Engaging both of these muscles on a regular basis helps improve eyesight and vision. For some people, it is easy to move their head 180 degrees from shoulder to shoulder. If you find this full range of motion difficult, simply bring your opposite shoulder forward slightly; it will help you move your head all the way toward the side, and compensate for the limited range of motion until you loosen up. The more you practice this eye exercise to improve vision, the more your range of motion and flexibility will increase.

The movements should not be fast, but they should not be slow either. Just relax, breathe deeply and slowly, and visualize that the sun, with its energy and light, is penetrating your face and nurturing your eyes as well as your mind. Your eyelids should be closed softly; don’t squeeze your eyelids shut. You want the eyelids to close as gently as if you were about to go to sleep for maximum vision enhancement. The less you squeeze your eyelids, the more relaxed your eyes will become. Remember, relaxation is one of the principles of how to improve eyesight naturally.

When I was in high school, I was doing this sunning eye exercise on a camping trip. Seeing me rotate my head back and forth, a girl asked, “Why do you keep saying no? Can’t you say yes?” So I moved my head up and down as if to nod “yes,” and I had a revelation. I noticed that this movement led to a greater variability in the angles at which light reached my eyes, thus awakening more parts of them. This additional exercise allowed for greater stimulation and increased sensation of lightness and darkness. I recommend this additional eye exercise to improve vision be included during sunning.

Whenever you experience that difference between extremes of dark and light, your pupils become stronger. The pupils of most modern people are very weak because they wear sunglasses when they’re outside, which weakens the pupils. Automatic activities, like those of the eye’s iris muscles that affect the pupils, are influenced by function and use. The more you constrict and expand your pupils, the stronger the iris muscles become. Your retina also benefits from more concentrated light, and blood flows much better to the eye as a result of the pupils contracting and expanding. There are several additional benefits to your eye health. One is that it wakes up your macula and reinforces its function, which is the most important part of the retina for clear central vision. Two, this eye exercise for improving vision boosts your optimism when sunlight meets the red blood cells: it stimulates their activity, especially of the hemoglobin in them, which leads to secretion of serotonin from the brain, which creates a good mood more effectively than any drug. Three, it boosts your immune system. It also helps boost vitamin D, which helps your bones and muscle contraction and improves blood flow.

The sunning exercise is mandatory for people who want to improve their vision naturally. Like any exercise, it doesn’t create drastic change for everyone. But quite a few of my clients have experienced huge vision health improvement and have reduced the strength of their eyeglasses prescriptions when they have diligently practiced sunning. When you have a break at work or school, I recommend sunning instead of smoking cigarettes or drinking coffee.

Skying

Skying is a simple eye exercise to improve vision. It is similar to sunning, but you do this when there is no sun. You just put one hand behind the back of your head and one hand on your forehead, applying pressure so that you massage your head as you turn it from side to side. Now move your head from side to side like you are sunning and blink rapidly at the sky.

After two minutes of skying, do one minute of the long swing. Stand with your legs slightly more than hip width apart, and your knees slightly bent. Hold your index finger about one foot in front of your face, pointing up to the ceiling. Look at your finger with a soft gaze. While looking at your finger, swing your body from side to side. As you swing to the right, twist your body so that your left heel rises slightly off the ground. As you twist your body to the left, your right heel raises slightly off the ground. Then do three minutes of skying and two minutes of swinging. Then do three more minutes of skying and two more minutes of swinging. This is an anti-squinting eye exercise to improve eyesight naturally and, as you sky and then swing, you are letting more light into your eyes and stopping the tendency to squint. You may find that the light bothers you less after doing the long swing.

This article on eye exercises for improving vision is excerpted Vision for Life, Revised Edition: Ten Steps to Natural Eyesight Improvement by Meir Schneider.

How do eye exercises work?

While there are many rumours surrounding the idea that eye exercises will make your prescription glasses redundant, such suggestions are a dangerous myth.

Eye exercises can help improve your eye health, they can also help your two eyes work better together. However they will not correct eye conditions such as short-sightedness (myopia), long-sightedness (hyperopia) or astigmatism. They will also do nothing for glaucoma or macular degeneration.If practised carefully and regularly, eye exercises may be able to help delay the onset of some conditions for some people.

Anyone can practise exercising their eyes, whether you already have an existing condition or have no vision problems at all. Each of these exercises aims to make the eye muscles more flexible and they are usually used as a way to improve focusing issues or conditions such as a lazy eye.

The ‘tromboning’ method involves holding an object, such as a pen, at arms-length in front of your face and focusing on a point of it. Then slowly move the object to your nose, always focusing on the same point, and return the object to a full length away again.Another popular exercise is known as ‘figure eight’. Imagine a sideways figure 8 in front of you and lead your eyes around the track slowly and carefully, then track back the other way. Repeat for a few minutes.

‘Near and far focusing’ can also help to improve the flexibility of your eye muscles. Place something in front of your eyes (a finger will do) and focus on it, then switch your focus to a distant object across the room.

These exercises won’t mean you don’t have to wear prescription glasses, but they can help to improve the flexibility in your eyes, and may be especially useful for those people who spend a lot of time in front of computer screens at work.

Eye Exercises: Visual Training for Eye Disorders

Effectiveness of visual training

Despite its long history, scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of visual training is limited and exists for only a few vision disorders. These are discussed below.

Strabismus/convergence disorder

Strabismus, also known as convergence disorder, is a condition in which the eyes are not properly aligned. It is the condition which visual training has most commonly been used to treat and the condition for which there is the best evidence regarding the effectiveness of eye exercises. There is evidence that eye exercises are effective in correcting convergence disorders in both children and adults and that a combination of office and home based therapy is more effective than home based therapy alone.

Amblyopia

Amblyopia is a condition in which one eye is more dominant than the other. It is commonly treated by patching the dominant eye, in order to encourage activity in the lazy or amblyopic eye. While scientific evidence regarding the effectiveness of this treatment is limited, available evidence suggests that patching the dominant eye improves vision in the amblyopic eye. Patching for six hours per day appears to be equally as effective as full time patching. There is also evidence that the risk of amblyopia recurring is minimised by gradual reduction in the length of treatment (to two hours per day) before cessation.

Brain or optic nerve injury

Available evidence shows that visual training in patients who retain some residual vision following a brain or optic nerve injury can improve their field of vision.

Conditions not affected by visual training

There is currently insufficient evidence to support the use of eye exercises for the following disorders:

  • Learning disabilities;
  • Dyslexia;
  • Age-related degenerative conditions such as macular degeneration and glaucoma;
  • Refractive Errors; and
  • Poor sports vision.

Eye exercises for the correction of visual disorders

A range of eye exercises have been used in home and office based visual training with the aim of correcting visual disorders. These are discussed further below.

Pencil push up therapy

Pencil push up therapy is the eye exercise most commonly prescribed by ophthalmologists. It is an eye exercise in which a pencil is held directly in front, at arm’s length. The pencil is then drawn slowly towards the nose. The exerciser follows the pencil with his/her eyes, trying to keep it in clear focus. When the pencil starts to appear as a double image, the pencil should be drawn away from the nose again. The exercise is repeated several times per session, for several sessions per day. The aim is to correct binocular visual disorders, in particular strabismus.

Lens fixation

Lens fixation is an eye exercise conducted with the assistance of an ophthalmologist, using a series of lenses of different strengths. The patient views an object through these lenses to train the eyes to adjust to different visual fields.

Prism fixation

Prism fixation is an eye exercise conducted with the assistance of an ophthalmologist in which the patient looks into a series of prisms with specific orientations. The orientation of the prism will depend on the condition being treated.

Shifting fixation

Shifting fixation is an eye exercise conducted with the assistance of an ophthalmologist in which the patient is required to change focus from near to distant objects. It is used to train the eyes to adjust to different fields of vision.

Patching

Patching is the practice of covering one eye with a patch to encourage the patient to use the alternate eye. In some instances the patient will be asked to carry out exercises, such as focusing on distant letters, while the dominant eye is patched. It is typically used as a treatment for amblyopia.

Eye exercises for the relief of temporary eye irritations

Eye exercises have also received increasing attention as a means of reducing temporary eye irritations induced by strain from long periods of focused vision. These eye exercises, which are discussed further below, are particularly relevant to, computer users who spend long periods of their working day focusing on a computer screen, and have a high risk of developing eye and visual disorders.

Eye movement

Performing regular exercises to ensure the eyes move to their full range of vision is important, particularly for individuals who spend lengthy periods of time looking in a particular direction (e.g. at a computer screen or reading material). Individuals can exercise the eye’s full range of motion by performing the following, simple exercise:

  • Sit upright, facing and looking forward;
  • Without moving the head, look up and down;
  • Then look left and right while continuing to face forward;
  • Repeat the exercise several times, throughout the day, as the eyes become strained.

Vision rest

Individuals who spend lengthy periods of time focusing on computer screens need to rest their eyes by focusing on distant objects periodically. Computer users should look away from the computer periodically and find an object at least three metres away to focus on. This may be a picture or something outside the window. The individual should then focus on the object for a short period of time.

Clinical optometrists often suggest the “20/20/20 rule” for visual rest, that is, after 20 minutes of computer use, look at something 20 feet (6 metres) away, for at least 20 seconds. Computer programs with an appointment reminder function can be utilised to help computer users follow this rule.

Eye exercises associated with eye damage

Despite the lack of evidence for the efficacy of eye exercises in the treatment of most visual and other disorders, practitioners agree that eye exercises are not typically associated with eye damage, with one exception. A practice called sunning, which first arose in the 1920s but gained popularity mainly in the 1960s, in which an individual looked directly into the sun to normalise their vision, is now known to be associated with an increased risk of a number of eye diseases.

Eyes are sensitive instruments which can easily become injured or diseased from exposure to sunlight, because of the ultraviolet rays of the sun. Eye diseases associated with sun exposure include the deadly condition squamous cell carcinoma of the eye, as well as a number of conditions which reduce visual acuity, including cataract, ptergyum and age-related macular degeneration.

For more information, see Protecting Your Eyes from the Sun.

Too often, pencil push-ups are assigned as an “exercise” to improve ocular convergence ability. Occupational therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, athletic trainers, ophthalmologists and even optometrists often prescribe this sort of treatment for convergence insufficiency.

Although, in theory, this method may seem like a suitable approach, it has several flaws. More so, there is a better method that is just as portable and more effective.

First, let’s discuss why pencil push-ups lack in productivity.

To be an effective form of treatment, the procedure has to have 3 inherent properties.

  • The procedure has to be directed towards the area of interest, in this case, the eyes.
  • Feedback has to be present throughout in order to facilitate learning
  • Cognitive loading applied to facilitate further development of the skill

Pencil push-ups lack solid feedback. As one is looking at the pencil while bringing it in towards the nose, if two pencils are seen, the feedback is the eyes are not pointing at the pencil, BUT it is unknown if you are looking in front or behind the pencil; the appropriate adjustment will not be known.

A better tool is the Brock Sting. This tool has all 3 properties built in, most notably feedback. Even though there is only one string, as one gazes down the string, two strings will be visible (as long as there are two eyes and no suppression). Wherever the strings cross, that is the exact point were the eyes are pointing; this allows for adequate feedback to know whether or not they eyes are looking at the intended target and also allows for learning and adjustment.

Click here if you’re interested in reading the CITT (convergence insufficiency treatment trial) that supports the information provided above.

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Exercises for the eyes

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