Do Eye Exercises Really Work?

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

That's what people ask when I tell them I'm a teacher of Natural Vision Improvement... and that I coach others to improve their eyesight.

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 your overstressed visual system.

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 you into trouble.

Now a Case For Eye Exercises

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

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

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

You want to practice proper use of your eyes all day long so that relaxation is maintained regardless of what you are doing.

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

In this vain, here are activities, or exercises, you can use to cultivate the habits of good vision so that you can use relaxed eyesight all day long.

Remember to Try Easy

You 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 you cultivate the skills necessary to maintain clear and easy vision.

  • Shifting-When your eyesight is relaxed and clear, your 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-Your vision seeks out the contrasts of light and dark and searches for the edges of objects.  The practice of edging traces objects in your field of view and keeps your eyes and attention moving.
  • Near to Far-This exercise helps you remain relaxed when transitioning from near objects to far objects and back again.  This skill helps your eyes adjust quickly to what your mind 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 your rather large visual field. Intentionally practicing the awareness of this fact can go a long way towards restoring clear eyesight. 
  • Seeing Shapes and Colors-Your mind constantly makes sense of the visual input it receives, and this exercise creates the space for your mind to do its job better.
  • Swinging Faces and Things-This one gives you something to do all day long regardless of what you are doing.

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