Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Eye Exercises can you believe it?

It is perhaps the very essence of irony when someone rolls his eyes at the suggestion that he can improve his vision by doing a regular program of eye exercises.

It is likely that the person perpetrating the eye roll will be of somewhat advanced age since the entire concept of ocular therapy through “eye exercise” is relatively new.

In keeping with other evolutions of thought regarding the rehabilitation and regeneration of human muscles and organs through exercise, such as the heart and lungs—and even the birth canal—it is no wonder that eye exercises are becoming increasingly more popular.

It’s Not Your Father’s Eye Strain AnymoreIt’s no accident that the issue is somewhat contemporary.

Our modern culture involves the use of eyes in ways and in volumes that our grandparents didn’t experience.

It’s not just television, either.

The computer is a primary culprit in the gradual degradation of our vision, and for our children the emergence of video gaming is just as concerning.
More people than ever before spend entire days in front of a computer screen, and if they don’t, chances are it consumes a good portion of their evening and weekend.

Kids bury their heads in books all day at school, then run to their X-Boxes for a few hours before dinner and between homework assignments.

Before long, everyone is squinting at the screen.

This is where eye exercises can come in handy!

There are ways around this problem besides corrective lenses.

Glasses and contacts are like diets and addictions – they meet an immediate need, but unless the underlying cause of the need is addressed, the prescription required to make things right will slowly grow in magnitude.

There are two realms of therapy – a two dollar word for exercise – both of which are accessible and effective: preventative, and curative.
The former can be addressed with readily available principles and simple exercises, while the latter is an issue that should involve your doctor’s counsel.

The likely outcome will still be eye exercise in some form.

What You See Is What You GetEyes in need of exercise announce themselves through symptoms.

A noticeable deterioration of vision, both near and far, is cause for concern and something that a sustained program of eye exercise can help remedy.

It’s also a signal that you see your optometrist as soon as possible, because vision problems only accelerate if they go unaddressed.

Headaches are the most common immediate system, often accompanied by a sore neck and lower back.
Ergonomics – the positioning of your body in front of the computer – might be the cause of the neck and back problems, which can lead to headaches, but temporal and frontal headaches in particular are usually the result of eye strain.

Behind The EyesThe principle behind the validity of eye exercise is the physiological fact that the eyes move.

Every time we shift our focus from near to far, or far to near, the eye either contracts or expands its shape to change the ocular physics of how they filter light.

These movements are, like any other movement in the body, a function of muscle activity, which means they can be affected by regular and proper exercise targeting the muscles involved.

This is all complicated by the fact that our eyes operate independently of each other, with brain functions responsible for keeping them in unison.

But they can move separately, and if they are of different visual acuity – meaning, one eye is stronger at either end of the visual spectrum than the other – the muscles are strained even more.
This can result not only in headaches, but in vision impairment that is usually corrected with glasses or contacts.

But even this can be partially or completely remedied with a proper program of eye exercise.

And finally there is a variable called eidetics, or the images we see before us when our eyes are closed.

These, too, can cause the eye to change shape, and thus manifest issues of comfort and acuity when they are attempting to function normally.

Some eye exercises actually involve closed-eye routines that focus on specific aspects of improvement.

And if what you see there in the dark is terribly alarming, perhaps call a psychologist along with an optometrist.

Basic Eye ExercisesThe exercises themselves come with a wide variety of theories and practices.
At the most basic level, computer fatigue can be alleviated by what’s called the 20/20/20 rule: every 20 minutes get up from your computer and focus on something that is 20 feet away, and hold that focus for 20 seconds or more.

This brings muscles that have been idle during your computer work back into play, which prevents atrophy and allows the other muscles to relax.

The more blood you get pumping into your ocular system, the better you will feel.

Another focus exercise it to hold reading material as close to your face as possible, then quickly look up and focus on something at least 10 feet away, then back again. Shift back and forth, like a camera lens, to increase muscle strength.

Gradually increase the length of time you do this, much increasing weight resistance in the gym as you grow stronger.

Some people experience convergence problems, where their eyes fail to work together when viewing a close object.

For this, hold your finger 10 inches from your face and bring it slowly closer to your eyes as you try to maintain focus.

Stop at the point where the image doubles, then slowly move your finger away.
Repetition should allow you to bring your finger almost to your nose before the image blurs.

It’s helpful to shift the starting point of your finger – up and down, left and right – so the six muscles that control each eyeball are worked from slightly different angles.

Another move is to try to inspect the length of your own eyebrows.

Look up, as if trying to see your eyebrows – if you can actually see them, congratulations, most people can’t – and run your line of sight slowly from left to right, and then back.

Do this several times and you may actually feel the blood rushing into the muscles that control your eyes, which is precisely the point.

These basic exercises are just a few that can be found in books an on-line – including entire programs and software – to help prevent fatigue and stop vision issues from escalating.
Over time they can even begin to improve visual acuity through the strengthening of the ocular muscles.

For more complex therapies that address structural or medical issues, doctors employ more sophisticated methods that call the muscles of the eyes into play in ways that optimize specific issues.

Sometimes these therapies are conducted in conjunction with lens to achieve the desired outcome, and in severe cases they can even call for the use of a patch.

Keep an Eye OutCare should be taken when searching out eye exercises, especially if there’s a price tag to what might otherwise be found without using a credit card.

Some program developers have been taken to task by authorities for making bold claims that aren’t true, so use caution when considering these claims.

As always, check with your optometrist before you buy.

The best way to care for your eyes is through regular check-ups with a qualified optometrist.
Ask about eye exercises while you’re there, and chances are you’ll walk out the door with a pamphlet or at least an earful of advice on how to ease the discomfort of eye fatigue.

By Larry Brooks
Published September 10, 2016

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