I saw an article the other day talking about the rapid rise in cases of myopia, especially in children. It’s no wonder, with all of the emphasis put on reading, and with so much computer and mobile device use.
Therefore, my recent blog (7/6/16) on eye health deserves a follow-up. There are some physical means with which to aid eye health, though most of the evidence is anecdotal. I am nearsighted and have an astigmatism. I’ve tried most of these and I do think that they help. What I like about them is that they don’t cost money, only a little time.
To better understand the eye issues that may be improved with eye ‘exercises’, let’s visit the basic anatomy of the eye and how the eye refracts (how the eye bends light), courtesy of Rob Murphy, Marilyn Haddrill, and Gary Heiting, OD.
- When your eyeball is too short, you are farsighted and can’t focus on near objects because light entering your eye focus beyond your retina.
- Nearsightedness occurs when your eyeball is too long and light rays fall short of achieving focus on your retina.
- When you have an astigmatism like me, the cornea or the lens has an irregular shape. These irregularities cause light entering your eye to split into different points of focus, creating blurry vision.
- Another common vision problem, presbyopia, occurs with aging when the lens starts to lose elasticity and can no longer accommodate focus at multiple distances. This condition usually causes blurring, starting in the early 40’s.
When you exercise your eyes, you move your eye muscles up-and-down, side-to-side, diagonal, or circular. These exercises also work the muscles controlling the back-and-forth movement of your eye’s lens, to achieve focus at multiple distances. I don’t know if these exercises can change the shape of my eyeball, but I think that I may be able to train my eye to see better in different ways, such as how my eyes and brain adapt and function.
The exercises I do on most days are the following:
1). Palming. This relax the eye muscles. I rub my palms together to warm them, then place them over my eyes so that no light is visible through my fingers. I relax my shoulders and breathe deeply for about 5 minutes. I focus on my breath, not my eyes-it helps me to relax.
2). Sunning. When I am able, I sit in the early morning sun and, with eyes closed, face the sun so that it is at a 45 degree angle. This also helps to relax the eye muscles, and it feels good (plus I get some vitamin D).
3). Tromboning. Hold a small object (I use a toothbrush) at arms length, inhale, then move the object to touch the tip of my nose. Then, exhale, look at the object, and move it back out. This exercises the focusing mechanism, which improves the control of the extra ocular muscles and stimulates the flow of nutrients inside the eyes.
4). Blinking (softly). Frequent and gentle blinking is essential to maintaining healthy eyes and optimal vision because it allows your eyelids to keep your eyelids coated with three beneficial layers of tears, says Dr. Ben Kim. The first layer of tears lies up against the whites of your eyes, and provides an even coat of protein-rich moisture for the second layer to adhere to. The middle watery layer helps to wash away foreign debris. It also nourishes the cornea of your eyes with minerals, a variety of proteins, and moisture (great for those with dry eye syndrome!). The third layer of tears is somewhat oily. It serves to prevent the middle watery layer from evaporating quickly, and provides needed lubrication between your eyes and eyelids. Without these three layers of tears, the eyes will be deprived of nourishment and cleansing, and they will be unnecessarily strained.
5). Distance. I set a timer for when I’m on the computer. 20 minutes on, then I take a break and look for at least 60 seconds at an object at least 20 feet away. I use a neighbors tree. This helps to relax eye muscles.
I focus on eye health for a couple of important reasons. The sense I would least like to lose is my eyesight; and I want to stay upright as long as possible. Eyes are of the utmost importance for balance.
Stay well, John R Blilie, M. S.