It’s important to note that very few qualified eye care professionals have ever claimed exercises can do anything to cure or reverse vision issues that require correctional intervention in the form of glasses, contact lenses or laser surgery.
Indeed, Harvard Medical School stated way back in a 2003 paper that ‘some programs even claim faithful adherents may be able to give up their glasses…if this sounds too good to be true, that’s because it is.’
However, that same study also concluded that when ‘practised faithfully, eye exercises may actually help delay the need for glasses or contact lenses in some people.’
While you certainly won’t be able to exercise away any encroaching issues with nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism, some types of simple DIY exercises are thought to carry potential benefits for certain sorts of visual activity, such as focusing and reducing fatigue blur.
At the very least, you should be able to give tired or underperforming eyes a quick boost from time to time with some of the simple, relaxing exercises outlined below.
Treat these exercises as a meditative and relaxing process, with a particular focus on soothing the overworked muscle groups and fatigued surfaces of your eyes.
Almost anybody can give these quick vision tune-up routines a go – except, that is, for patients with partial or total blindness, cataracts, and those recovering from recent corneal injuries. Anyone with these or similar conditions should always consult a doctor first.
Eye Exercises For Improved Vision:
Treat these eye exercises as a meditative and relaxing process, with a particular focus on soothing the overworked muscle groups and fatigued surfaces of your eyes. Almost anybody can give these quick vision tune-up routines a go – except, that is, for patients with partial or total blindness, cataracts, and those recovering from recent corneal injuries. Anyone with these or similar conditions should always consult a doctor first. Practising the following once a week at home is a terrific way to get started.
1. Paming Exercises
While sitting quietly in a comfortable pose, rub the palms of your hands together until they begin to warm up. Place your warmed hands gently over your closed eyelids, hold the pose until the heat has fully dissipated, and repeat a few times. This is a soothing and relaxing preparatory exercise that helps get the eyes warmed up – quite literally! – for the following steps.
2. Massaging exercises
Again while sitting somewhere comfortable, quiet and relaxed, gently massage your eyelids with freshly washed fingers, making small circular motions over the closed lids while applying very light pressure to your eyeballs. Like the palming exercise above, this should help to stimulate blood flow around the eyes, making you feel more alert and potentially enhancing visual performance slightly – much like any other muscle warm-up exercise, in fact.
3. Focal distance exercises
Set up three objects at varying intervals across a room. Place the first at arm’s length, the next 5-10 feet away, and the last around 15-20 feet away. Sit in a fixed position where you can view all three without moving. Keeping your head still, focus first on the closest object for 10 seconds, and then – still without moving your head – focus on the middle object for 10 seconds, and finally the furthest object for 10 seconds, before working your way back. Practice five sets of repetitions.
4. Motion Zoom Exercises
A motion zoom test (sometimes called a ‘trombone test’, due to the arm movement involved) can also be done as a variant on the above exercise. Simply focus on your fingertip outstretched at arm’s length, and then – without breaking focus – bring it slowly closer, to within about three inches of your nose, before moving it steadily back away again. Try to maintain a clear image across a smooth transition at all distances. Repeat this exercise three times in a session.
5. Directional Exercises
Train your ocular muscles to feel more responsive by slowly tracing figure eight patterns on a floor or wall with your eyes. Imagine the shape is drawn nice and large on the surface you’re looking at, and follow the curves and loops of it steadily around, without moving your head or neck. Go in one direction for a couple of minutes, then switch and go the other way.
6. Shifting exercises
Sit a couple of feet away from a fairly large object (say, a sofa, a wardrobe, a bed, or a patterned wall) – anything big enough that you can’t directly focus on all of it at once. In these situations, we unconsciously rely on our peripheral vision, which is much less clear and distinct than our central focus, to ‘fill in blanks’ for us and give us a cohesive overall picture of something. This exercise is about acknowledging when our eyes are doing this, by deliberately drawing our focal attention to specific smaller areas. Focus intently on one part of the object, then switch this focal point every three seconds. While taking in as much central detail as possible, also try to be aware of how the rest of your eye treats the surrounding areas that aren’t being directly focused on – in other words, try to take as much notice of what you can’t see clearly as what you can.
This is an easy one, but it’s enormously beneficial to your overall eye health. Simply practice repetitive sets of fast, effortless blinking for 10 seconds, take a 5-second break, then blink for another 10 seconds. This helps to lubricate and clear the surface of the eye, and it’s an especially good habit to get into while working in front of screens for extended periods – during intensive work, viewing or gaming sessions, our usual blink rate of 15-20 per minute often drops as low as 5, leading to dry, irritated and strained-feeling eyes after a while.
At the end of all vision exercise routines, it’s a good idea to ‘warm down’ with a final round of palming to soothe your eyes and relax you back into the rest of your day.Once again, while these sorts of exercises can be extremely helpful in making your eyes feel refreshed, tuned-up and less easily fatigued, no conclusive scientific research of any kind has shown that they’re effective in combating vision issues such as myopia, presbyopia or astigmatism. This is because those sorts of conditions are related to the physical shape of the eyeball, and how it, therefore, refracts light.
As useful as DIY eye exercises can feel, no amount of massage, palming or focal practice can change the structural anatomy of the human eye.
Here’s the bottom line: if you’re experiencing problems with your vision, you should always get it checked out by an appropriate doctor as the first port of call. Delaying necessary medical treatment can make various conditions more difficult to correct effectively in future.