We know that exercising our muscles is good for our health. What about eye exercises to improve eyesight? While there are no effective eye exercises for astigmatism, myopia, or hyperopia, otherwise known as refractive errors, eye exercises can help with optimizing visual skills. Vision therapy, a type of physical therapy for the eyes, has been shown to improve certain conditions involving eye alignment and focusing. During vision therapy, a patient is prescribed a set of eye exercises for lazy eye, among other conditions. While being under an eye doctor’s care can provide more guidance on how to use eye exercises, there are some eye muscle exercises that can be done at home. While I wouldn’t expect these eye exercises to improve vision fast, with diligence, they can gradually help with focusing issues and eyestrain.
Benefits of Eye Exercises
Exercise for your eyes, traditionally in the form of vision therapy, can help to ensure that the two eyes work together effectively. There are common symptoms that may indicate that eye strengthening exercises may be useful. These include skipping lines or words while reading, closing an eye, eyestrain, and headache. Vision therapy can address problems with eye turn (strabismus), lazy eye (amblyopia), eye tracking (saccadic dysfunction), and eye teaming (convergence insufficiency). Lazy eye exercises have been shown to be particularly helpful in correcting this condition, especially when it’s caught early.
How to Exercise Your Eyes?
Palming is a yogic eye exercise, suggesting relaxing the muscles around the eyes, reducing eye fatigue.
To palm, start by rubbing your hands together to warm them up. Close your eyes and place the palm of each hand over the corresponding cheekbone. Cup your hand over each eye and breathe deeply for five minutes.
When we spend time on digital devices, our blink rate slows down. This can cause the eyes to dry out, making them feel sandy, gritty, and tired.
Taking the time to consciously blink can restore the tear film. Blinking pumps the oil glands in the eyelids, stimulating their lubricating secretions. It also helps to spread the tears over the eyes.
A blinking exercise may involve closing the eyes, pausing for two seconds, then opening them again. While the eyes are closed, the eyelids can be consciously squeezed tight for extra stimulation of the oil glands.
Pencil push-ups are commonly used to train the eyes to move in toward one another or converge when looking at a near object.
To do a pencil push-up, hold a pencil at arm’s length while wearing your best near vision correction. Focus on the tip of the eraser. If there is a letter on the eraser, get it in focus, so it’s legible. Now slowly move the pencil towards your nose, keeping the eraser or letter single and focused. Once it goes double, draw it away from the eyes again. Repeat several times.
Near and Far Focus
Alternating between near and far focus helps to train your focusing system to engage and relax appropriately.
Hold your thumb 10 inches from your face and focus on it for 15 seconds. Alternatively, you can hold a near object with a letter on it to better engage your focusing system. After fifteen seconds, shift your gaze to a target 20 feet (6 meters) away, and again, hold your focus for 15 seconds. Return to your thumb. Repeat several times.
Tracking an object with the eyes can be challenging for some. To work on this, one can practice doing figure eights.
Pick a point on the floor 10 feet away from you. With your eyes, trace an imaginary figure eight. Continue for 30 seconds, then switch directions.
When we use our eyes for near work, our focusing system can become fatigued. Our eyes can also dry out. Scheduling regular breaks can help to alleviate some of this strain.
The 20-20-20 rule is easy to remember. For every 20 minutes of near work, look at a target 20 feet away for 20 seconds. You can now return to your near activity.
The Brock String was developed by Frederick Brock of Switzerland, a pioneer in vision therapy. It can be used for a variety of exercises to train the visual system.
To set up the Brock String, tie a loop on each end of the string. Attach one loop to a doorknob. Position the three beads. To do so, you’ll want to place the distance bead closest to the doorknob. The middle bead should sit 2-5 feet from you. The near bead should be 6 inches from your nose. Hold the string taught directly under your nose.
A sequence of exercises can be performed with the Brock String to train the eyes in tracking, alignment, and focusing.
The barrel card trains the eyes to turn in together, or converge, to view a near object.
To begin, hold the barrel card parallel to your nose so the circles are aligned horizontally, and the largest circles are furthest away from the nose. Close each eye. One eye will see red circles, while the other will see green ones. Adjust as necessary to ensure that each eye sees the same amount of the card and there is no tilt. Now, focus your eyes on the circles furthest away from you. The two images should overlap, producing a single red-green circle. After 5 seconds, shift your gaze to the middle circle. Finally, move your gaze to the smallest closest circle. It is important to note that the circles which you are not focused on will appear double; this is normal. Once you have completed one cycle, relax your eyes. You should work up to completing 10 cycles, holding for 10 seconds on each of the three circles.
Other Tips to Increase Eyesight
If you’re looking for guidance when it comes to exercise for your eyes, talk to your eye doctor. Even lazy eye exercises for adults have shown success with the right therapy. Your doctor can provide tailored eye exercises for better vision or refer you to someone who can.
Do eye exercises work? They certainly can, for specific key conditions. Doing eye exercises to improve vision can be useful, keeping in mind that they can’t solve every eye problem. When it comes to how to exercise your eyes, some doctors may be able to provide guidance.
It’s also important to see an eye care professional regularly for comprehensive exams to ensure that nothing more serious is causing your vision issues. If you’d like to learn more about how to improve your eyesight, call Kraff Eye Institute today at (312) 444-1111.