Vision therapy describes a set of non-invasive techniques meant to correct vision defects or improve visual skills, including things like focus, coordination, strengthening eye muscles, and circulation, but also eye movement control. Techniques thought to improve vision have been used by optometrists since the late 19th century, but modern science has given us a better understanding of how the eye works, which has helped specialists refine many of their practices.
If you frequently experience eyestrain, headaches, hypersensitivity to light, teary eyes, and blurred vision, or if you work for many hours behind a computer screen, but are otherwise healthy, chances are that a set of simple eye exercises will help you feel a lot better.
1. Repeated blinking. This simple action, that we often take for granted, plays a vital role in eye 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.