Did you know that as many as half of all Americans have at least one problem with their eyesight?
According to the Vision Council of America, 177 million Americans will need some kind of vision correction.
If you’re one of these people, you’ve probably wondered if there is any way to ditch your glasses and contacts and improve your vision naturally.
The journey towards vision correction often leads people to programs featuring eye exercises. Eye exercises are like tai chi for your eyes. They often involve training your eye to focus or concentrate to flex your vision muscles.
But with so many programs available from more than a few sources, many people looking for help also ask the same question: “Do eye exercises work?”
There is a place and time for eye exercises. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about improving your vision naturally.
Why Would You Exercise Your Eyes?
Eye exercises have been around for hundreds of years. But many people still wonder, why would you exercise your eyes?
Did you know that you have muscles in your eyes?
Your extraocular muscles are made of six skeletal muscles that surround your eyeball. These muscles are what control your eye movement, and when they’re weak or damaged, you’ll find it more difficult to see properly.
Extraocular muscles are like any other muscle in your body. If you don’t exercise them, they won’t perform their best. More importantly, if they’re injured, they’ll limit your performance.
Eye exercises are not a new method of improving vision. They’ve been around for centuries. In 1944, a scientist argued in an article in the Archives of Ophthalmology that there’s no greater principle than the idea of repetition and practice for improving vision.
Even today, eye exercises are often touted as a way to protect your eyes and improve your vision.
Your ophthalmologist may even prescribe a series of exercises if you struggle with one or more of the following vision issues:
- Difficulties focusing
- Double vision
- One eye drifts to the side
- Binocular vision
- Injury or weakness following eye surgery
- Lazy eye
- Crossed eyes
If these problems cause eye strain, blurry vision or increased sensitivity to light, then an eye exercise program is often recommended by a medical professional.
How Do You Perform Eye Exercises?
While there’s a wide variety of eye exercises promoted by various companies, there are some tried and true exercises prescribed by doctors and ophthalmologists.
For example, you might train your muscles by purposefully shifting your focus from an object nearby to an object far away.
You might also exercise a weak eye by covering your dominant eye and using the weaker eye to look at different objects or concentrate on one object.
Additionally, there are patterns designed to train your extraocular muscles.
Do Eye Exercises Work?
Eye exercises do help some people with weak extraocular muscles. They can strengthen their eyes and improve their vision. In most cases, a doctor can tell you if you would benefit from a regimen of exercises and pass on a list of tools to try.
But eye exercises don’t work for everyone. For example, they won’t improve your vision if you have astigmatism or severe near- or farsightedness.
While the exercises strengthen your muscles, some vision problems are more related to the anatomy of your eye and how it refracts light.
How Your Eyes Work
When most people visit an eye doctor, they do so because their vision is blurry.
Blurriness is related to what is called a refractive error, and it’s related to the way light moves through your eye. Light travels differently based on the surface in encounters: it can be absorbed, bent, deflected, or reflected.
When light meets your eye, the rays of light travel through the surface of your eye, which bends the light ray. Seeing, or vision, is a process that begins when a ray of light is reflected off an object and then travels through your eye to be refracted and focused.
The focal point in your eye is actually at the back of your eye in what’s called the retina and the retina’s photoreceptors, which are light-sensitive cells. Images are then transferred from the retina through your optic system and to the brain.
Exercises Won’t Help Anatomical Problems
So, the cause of your blurry vision might be the result of an issue with your extraocular muscles.
But it’s more likely the result of an issue in your vision system or in the way your eye refracts light, which is more closely related to the anatomy of your eye.
For example, if you are farsighted and struggle with focus, it might be because your eyeball is too short and the light rays extend beyond your retina. Because your retina plays a crucial role in refracting and refocusing, your vision might then be limited or blurry.
Nearsightedness is another excellent example of anatomical issues and blurry vision. Many people who are nearsighted have eyeballs that are too long, causing the rays of light to fall short of your retina.
Do Eye Exercises Work for Anatomical Vision Issues?
For eye exercises to work for vision issues related to your eye’s anatomy, the exercise would need to do the following:
- Make your eyeball shorter
- Make your eyeball longer
- Reshape the surface of your eyeball
- Restore elasticity of the lens
Common sense suggests that exercising the surrounding muscles or practicing vision techniques won’t make your eyeball shorter.
In this case, common sense is also supported by science. In a review of the published data on the efficacy of eye exercises, an article in the American Journal of Ophthalmology concluded that there’s no evidence of these exercises making a difference in anyone’s vision.
How to Improve Your Vision
Do eye exercises work?
Yes – for a select few people who have issues with their extraocular muscles. But because vision issues are often related to the anatomy of the eye itself, they’re unlikely to work for everyone.
The road to improving your vision doesn’t begin with DIY exercises. It starts at your ophthalmologist’s office to determine the cause of your vision issues.
Are you ready to improve your vision? Contact us today.