When was the last time you exercised your eyes? What no idea? hhhmm…let’s try some easier questions. When was the last time you used your ipad or tablet? or how about your computer? How long did you spend staring into the tiny lit up phone screen? Oh, better yet how much television did you watch this week? I bet you had no problem answering those huh?
There has been a dramatic rise in the last decade in the number of people needing glasses due to the increase of use and reliance on electronic devices. And it is only going to get worse. Bookstores are going the way of the dinosaurs as electronic readers become more and more popular. Textbooks are being phased out and schools are issuing ipads. “The dog ate my homework” excuse is no longer plausible as children are now logging onto school websites to do their homework. Leaving the neck and shoulder issues aside for the moment lets literally take a look at the one thing we take for granted -our eyes.
We all assume that as we age we will need eyeglasses. A belief that is coming of age much sooner by our constant computer/TV use. The problem is not really fixed with the glasses either, as your sight will continue to worsen once you start wearing glasses. We become dependent on the eyeglasses causing stronger and stronger prescriptions to be needed.
Another issue not being recognized is how fashion is also affecting our eyes. Back in the day we wore the Elton John style, large tinted frames (mine where blue to match my eyes) . These larger frames allowed us to use our eyes normally to see up and down right and left. The fashion of today have us wearing small Annie Hall style frames. In order to stay within the small frames we are forced to limit our eye movement and move our heads to see in all directions other than straight forward. Limited movement means muscle, and therefore vision atrophy.
Our eyes like any other muscle in the body needs to be exercised. Practiced faithfully, eye exercises may actually help delay the need for glasses or contacts in some people.
If you regularly experience symptoms such as eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches, increased sensitivity to bright light, tired eyes, or difficulty sustaining attention, eye exercises could very well be the answer.
Side note-exercising eye muscles will not eliminate the most common maladies that necessitate corrective lenses — namely, nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism, and presbyopia (age-related lens stiffening).
There are some very simple exercises that take only a few minutes to do.
1. Repeated blinking. This simple action, that we often take for granted, places a vital role in health and vision– it replenishes the tear film that covers the surface of the eye (the cornea), lubricating it and protecting it against dryness, dust particles and other irritants. Some research shows that when we watch TV or use the computer, we tend to blink less, which dries and irritates the eyes, potentially causing headaches and other types of discomfort. Blinking every three or four seconds for about a minute is thought to help reduce eye strain by clearing the cornea and allowing the eyes to rest.
2. Palming the eyes. This is achieved by lightly pressing three fingers from each hand against the upper eyelids for a couple of seconds, then releasing. Repeating this process at least five times helps relieve tension accumulated in the ciliary muscles of the eye, while also replenishing the eyes’ tear film. Taking a few deep breaths before performing this exercise will improve relaxation.
3. Rolling your eyes, first clockwise, the counter-clockwise. While this may not sound much like an exercise, it is actually one of the most popular do-it-yourself vision therapies, believed to both tone the eye muscles, and improve local blood circulation. It is generally advised to start rolling your eyes slowly, then faster, and to do this about fifteen or twenty times in a row.
4. Focusing on a distant object. This exercise is recommended especially for individuals who suffer from computer vision syndrome, but it can also help relax the eyes after any other strenuous activity. Choose an object that is located six to ten meters away from you, and focus on it for about twenty seconds, without moving your head. Doing so provides rest to the ciliary muscles that we tend to put a lot of stress on when we focus intensely on the computer screen.
5. Zooming in on an object. This simple (and somewhat hilarious) exercise can be performed by holding a pencil in front of you at arm’s length, then slowly moving the arm closer to the nose, while focusing your eyes on the tip of the pencil. The goal is to bring the tip of pencil as close to the nose as possible, until your eyes can’t keep focus. Doing this exercise ten times in a row helps improve eye movement control and strengthens the eye muscles.
Here is a simple way to exercise your eyes:
The picture in these exercises was developed by Tibetan monks.
When performed as described below, the exercises are designed to stimulate muscles and optic nerves. Practicing these exercises twice daily, in the morning and evening, may improve vision problems over time. Build up to the 30 seconds twice a day to avoid eye strain.
Copy and print the snowflake. You can also get the Tibetan Eye Chart as an app. It’s at www.TibetanEyeChartApp.com.
Remove glasses or contacts.
Sit with back straight and the chart centered about one inch directly in front of your face with the center dot at nose level.
Move only the eyes, not your head.
Hold each movement for 30 seconds. It is important to hold for this length of time as this is the time required to break down the protein bridges holding your muscles locked as they are presently.
Begin by relaxing the eyes, closing them gently and cupping with the hands.
Move both eyes clockwise around the outer circle from dot to dot, beginning with 12 o’clock.
Repeat this pattern, moving counterclockwise, again beginning with 12 o’clock.
Move eyes back and forth between dots at 2 o’clock and 8 o’clock positions.
Move eyes back and forth between dots at 4 o’clock and 10 o’clock positions.
End by relaxing eyes and cupping them with your hands.
No part of the body should ever be ignored. Make sure to keep your day bight and in focus and remember to exercise your eyes!