Over the last 10 – 15 years there has been a marked increase in the number of people who wear glasses and contact lenses. This can be put down to drastically increased computer usage both at home and at work, and increased television watching. Good news for opticians around the world – bad news for us, but it needn’t be!
Our eyes need regular exercise in order to keep them healthy, just like any other muscle in the body. The thing is, we take it for granted that our eyes will eventually give up on us and we will eventually need glasses or contact lenses. This doesn’t have to be the case if you regularly exercise your eyes. Also, if you start wearing glasses or contact lenses your eyesight will only get worse over time rather than get better as your eyes will get used to the new lenses and need even stronger lenses to function properly. Everybody who wears glasses and contacts will tell you their eyes have gradually got worse over time but they have put it down to their eyesight getting worse which is not necessarily the case.
This may sound quite controversial to some people and a lot of people are opposed to this advice when I have given it. Opticians are people of some authority so why would someone listen to me rather than someone who has had years of training and years of experience and have big fancy machines to test your eyes. Simple answer is that 90% of opticians would not be required if everybody done some sort eye exercise on a daily basis.
Of course there are exceptions and a lot of people might need glasses or contacts due to congenital problems or some kind of trauma however I believe most people who wear glasses do not need them or did not need them in the first place.
Exercises to strengthen your eye muscles and improve your vision
Blinking is an often overlooked yet simple way to keep your eyes fresh and being able to focus longer. Computer users and television watchers tend to blink less, especially when they are intently focused on something. Try it just now as a simple exercise. For the next two minutes blink every 3 – 4 seconds. After you have done this for two minutes, mentally take note of how your eyes feel, are they strained, relaxed, tired. Now try and not blink for 30 seconds at a time for two minutes. Do you feel any difference?
Whenever you blink your eyes are going into a brief period of darkness which helps to keep your eyes fresh and discharges previous information ready for new information, this helps to reduce eye strain.
Your blink rate can also help with your communication skills. Think about someone who looked at you intently and you possibly felt threatened by them. What you may have missed is the fact that they had stopped blinking. When someone stops blinking and stares at you when you are talking it’s a sign of aggression. However whenever you are talking to someone and they are blinking at a 3 -4 second interval it’s a sign of a relaxed and friendly listener. Check out people’s blink rates the next time you are talking.
This is done to relieve stress around the eyes and as a way to relax your eyes whilst taking a computer break.
Instructions for palming
- Take a few deep breathes before you begin.
- Make yourself comfortable whilst leaning forward on a desk or with your elbows resting on your knees. Close your eyes.
- 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. Make sure you can blink freely and you are not putting too much pressure on your eyes.
That’s it. Palming gives you the opportunity to rest your mind and your eyes for a few minutes at a time. It may not sound 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.
3. Figure of eight
This is to exercise your eye muscles and increase their flexibility. This is quite a simple exercise but a good one.
Imagine a giant figure of eight in front of you about 10 feet in front of you. Now turn the 8 on its side. Now trace the figure of eight with your eyes, slowly. Do it one way for a few minutes and then do it the other way for a few minutes. It may seem very alien at first but it’s worth persevering with it.
4. Near and far focusing
This is one of my favorite exercises as you can do it almost anywhere, I say almost as I couldn’t imagine doing it on the underground without getting strange looks from those around me.
Instructions for Near and far focusing.
- Sit in a comfortable position, or stand, this will only take 2-3 minutes at a time.
- Put your thumb about 10 inches in front of you and focus on it.
- Now focus on something else about 10 – 20 feet in front of you.
- On each deep breath switch between focussing on your thumb and the 10-20 feet object in front of you.
This will strengthen the muscles in your eyes over time and improve your vision overall.
This is another one of my favorites as it is very easy and quick to do.
Instructions for zooming
- Sit in a comfortable position
- Stretch out your arm with your thumb in the hitchhike position
- Focus on your thumb as your arm is outstretched.
- Now bring your thumb closer to you, focusing all the time, until your thumb is about 3 inches in front of your face.
- Now move your thumb away again until your arm is fully outstretched.
- Do this for a few minutes at a time throughout the day.
This exercise will strengthen your focusing skills and your eye muscles in general.
The Habit for Better Eyesight
If you smoke, here’s another good reason to quit tobacco. Smoking has been linked to an increased risk of cataracts, optic nerve damage, and macular degeneration. If you’ve tried to quit smoking before and relapsed, give it another shot. Studies show that the more times you try to quit smoking, the more likely you are to succeed.