Do Eye Exercises Really Work?

Let’s see.  When I tell somebody that I am a teacher of Natural Vision Improvement and that I coach and mentor others to improve their eyesight, they usually ask,

“So do you do exercises for your eyes or something?’.

And a favorite question among skeptics and inquirers is “Do eye exercises really work?”

The Bates Method and most Natural Vision Improvement approaches that have developed from the Bates’ Method are not really about exercises in the way that we typically think about exercises.

Look up and away. Breathe. Blink. Then come back!

Relaxation and Effortless Eyesight

Remember, the Bates’ Method is about relaxation and effortlessness.

What type of image do you conjure up when you think of exercises? 

Improving eyesight is not about wiping lazy and weak eyes into shape.  In fact, it is said that the muscles in and around our eyes are 200 to 350 times stronger than they need to be to perform their functions. 

If you have poor eyesight it is not because your eyes are too weak! 

It is because they are tense and strained and what we want to do is bring relaxation to our overstressed visual systems.

So often, when we think of exercises, we imagine forcing ourselves to work at something to make ourselves stronger.  That is not the approach to take with improving eyesight.  For some things that might be the right approach, but not for vision which is naturally easy and gentle.  It is the strain created by the effort or act of trying to see that gets us into trouble.

Now a Case For Eye Exercises

Improving our vision has to do with relaxation and so we employ activities that help bring relaxation to our visual systems such as palming, sunning, and swinging. 

However, we also want to develop the habits of normal eyesight so that our vision stays relaxed as we go about our day using our eyes. 

One workable definition of exercise is: to train by use; practice; to undergo training.

We want to practice proper use of our eyes all day long so that relaxation is maintained regardless of what we are doing.

So if we think of eye exercises as a way of cultivating the skills of good eyesight then the definition fits.

In this vain I want to share some activities, or exercises, that we can use to cultivate the habits of good vision so that we can use relaxed eyesight all day long.

Remember to Try Easy

We don't want to approach these activities with the mentality of trying hard.  Instead, just relax and allow.  

These exercises,when used properly, will help us cultivate the skills necessary to maintain clear and easy vision.

  • Shifting-When our eyesight is relaxed and clear our eyes and mind are constantly moving. Shifting, when practiced correctly mimics this habit of good eyesight and can be used any time you think of it to help restore clarity to your vision.
  • Edging-Our vision seeks out the contrasts of light and dark and searches for the edges of objects.  The practice of edging traces objects in our field of view and keeps our eyes and attention moving.
  • Near to Far-This exercise helps us remain relaxed when transitioning from near objects to far objects and back again.  This skill helps our eyes adjust to what our minds want to see.
  • Flashing-Learn to use the power of your mind with this exercise to sharpen both eyesight and memory.
  • Central Fixation Exercise-There is only one small clear spot in our rather large visual fields. Intentionally practicing the awareness of this fact can go a long way towards restoring clear eyesight. 
  • Seeing Shapes and Colors-Our minds are constantly making sense of the visual input it receives and this exercise creates the space for our minds to do its job.
  • Swinging Faces and Things-This one gives you something to do all day long regardless of what you are doing.

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