Now, I know most of you don’t have any extra time to put aside for doing dull eye exercises. I know I don’t. Unless you are severely visually disabled or require eagle eye vision for your career, eye exercises just seem to involve too much time and effort. What I’m going to show you today are not so much “exercises” but habits or techniques you can start using, as part of your daily “seeing” routine. They take up little or no extra time. You won’t need to set aside any time. And what seconds they consume of your busy schedule will be replaced with increased reading speed and less eyestrain. Before we begin, let me explain.
How Our Ancestors Used Their Eyes
If you compare the life most of us live today to the type of lifestyle our ancestors experienced for thousands of years…we notice some major shifts. One of the biggest being, how we use our eyes. Today, many of us have careers that involve staring at a computer screen. When we get home, we then spend even more time either looking at another computer, or reading a book or a magazine. All of this is nearsighted work. Our ancestors, on the other hand, spent most of their time outdoors busy with hunting, gathering, fighting, building, running, hiding from large animals, etc. These pursuits required them to look at a distance – oftentimes, great distances. They didn’t read. Their eyes mainly focused on objects more than an arm’s length away. So, you see, our eyes evolved for a completely different purpose than the reading and writing we enjoy today. The first technique I’ll share with you helps you get back to that farsighted way of living without becoming illiterate.
The 10–10–10 Technique
This little technique will relieve an incredible amount of eyestrain whilst keeping the muscles in your eyes strong. It goes back to the nearsighted/farsighted issue. Whenever you are looking at something up close, your eye muscles are being held in tight focus. And, based on our ancestors seeing-habits, a focus that is somewhat unnatural for us. A simple technique you can use when you are reading (whether on a computer screen or in a book) is to…
- Look 10 feet away…
- Every 10 minutes…
- For 10 seconds.
If you can, stare out a window, focusing on an object a great distance away. Try to see it as clearly as possible. If you wear reading glasses, choose the ones which allow you to look out over the top (this way you won’t even have to remove them to do this exercise). If you don’t have a window or a great scene to view, pin up a wonderful picture that you find inspiring and focus on its details.
Now, how to remember to do this? Try setting a timer every 10 minutes for 10 seconds. Another option is just to take advantage of the “natural” pauses that happen when you use a computer or read a book.
Pauses such as…
-A new chapter or scene in a novel
-Waiting for a web page to load
-Whenever you take a sip of water or feel you need a little break
Blink, Drink and Wash at the Sink
The more you can blink the better. Probably, when our ancestors were outside, exposed to elements, they naturally blinked a lot more than we do today in our protected homes and offices. Blinking is essential for keeping the eyes moist. Take two little pieces of paper or sticky notes and write “BLINK!” in big letters. Paste one
under you computer screen and one on your TV for a month. That should be enough to get you in the habit.
Also, ensuring you are drinking enough water (coffee and juice don’t count) is critical. If you’re dehydrated (and many people are) then keeping your eyes moist won’t be as high a priority for your body as keeping your brain from drying out! Homeopathic eye drops can also help. Just keep a bottle by your computer and use them if you find your eyes are tired or irritated.
Water Guidelines: Take your weight in pounds and divide in half. Drink that many ounces of water a day. In every liter of water put ¼ tsp of a good sea salt.
Another option is to rinse your eyes with water every time you go to the washroom. Since you’re washing your hands after using the toilet anyway, splash some water on your closed eyes. Preferably cold. Not only will this help refresh and stimulate you – but it will keep your eyes moist.
Sleeping in the Dark
Back to our ancestors…they were also not used to all the artificial light we see today. They, especially, weren’t accustomed to staring at radiant light sources like computer monitors, Kindle, TV screens. Plus, when the sun set, that was it. Firelight and oil lamps just don’t have the same glare as the light bulb. You have options, you can sleep in the pitch dark or wear a blindfold. Not only will this help you sleep, but it will give your eyes the break they need from light. As long as light is hitting your eyes, open or closed, they are more or less “on.” When we sleep, we are so protective of our ears – making sure there are no sounds to disturb us. You’ll probably find that showing the same courtesy to your eyes will make them stronger and sharper.
Giving your eyes some “black–out” breaks during the day is also very beneficial. And it appears
as if our palms were designed for this very job. Try this technique…
- Cup your palms slightly.
- Place them over your eye sockets, with your fingers resting on your forehead and the
heels of your hands on your cheek bones.
- Seal them shut so no light can get to your eyes.
- Now visualize a black object (like a black tablecloth or black pillow) on a black
You’ll notice when you do this technique that you’ll probably still see a little bit of light. This is a sign your retina is over–reacting and still sending signals to your brain – even when there is none – much like how your ears will continue to ring after hearing a loud sound. Again, we watch out for our ears more than eyes.
As you continue to practice this technique, you’ll find your 10-second palming sessions become darker and darker (in a non-morbid sort of way). You can also use this technique when you sit down or lie down to rest or think. It’s particularly beneficial when you are reading on a computer screen (remember to BLINK!) or watching a video or doing anything else that involves you looking at a radiant light source.
Tense and Relax
Try this technique after you lie down in bed, before you go to sleep at night:
- Exhale and open your eyes as wide as possible. “Bug” your eyes out. (Nothing too
strenuous.) Hold for 3 seconds.
- Then inhale deeply and shut your eyes, squeezing tightly (but not so much that it hurts!).
- Repeat steps one and two, two more times.
Forcefully tensing your eyes is a good way to have control over the tension in them so you can really relax them.
(Are you remembering to blink, while reading this?)
Visualize Perfect Vision
Whenever you look at something consciously — like a sign or a book — close your eyes for a few seconds and visualize what you were just looking at. Picture it being super–sharp. See a high contrast in the colors. Visualize all the details. Take whatever you see physically and focus the lens of your mind’s eye on it for 3–10 seconds.
Then open your eyes. With a little practice, you’ll start to see this does make your vision clearer and sharper. Essentially you’re tricking your mind into making you see better. Your vision fluctuates all day — depending on your mood, your environment or your energy levels. It is also influenced by your mental state. So instead of letting it happen unconsciously, take advantage of this mind over matter situation and be conscious about it. (Remember to blink!)
Read Small Print
Once a day, make a point of reading small print. You can either just hold a book far enough away that the print becomes small, or adjust the print size on your computer. Try reading small print for a good ten minutes every day. This will strengthen your eyes and make regular print easier to read. If you need reading glasses, try reading without them for this ten–minute “small print” session. This is sort of like lifting weights with your eyeballs. (And so is… blinking!)
Here’s Oil in Your Eye
It’s not specifically an exercise but I want to share with you a safe eye treatment that I use. It’s just a drop of organic castor oil in each eye at night. Make sure it’s only one drop, because too many drops can be quite messy. If the idea of a drop of oil landing in your eye bothers you, just wipe a drop of oil at the base of your eyelashes at bedtime and let it “melt” into your eyes overnight. Use a clean finger and one drop of oil. Castor oil can help draw out toxins, lubricate your tear ducts, prevent cataracts and remove floater debris from inside your eyeball.
In the morning, I rinse my eyes with a few drops of a homeopathic eye drop to remove the final film of oil.
Warning: If you wear contact lenses perhaps you not do this exercise in case there is still some oil remaining that will contaminate your lenses.
Seeing in the Dark
Here is a report from ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2006) about the old wives tale that you shouldn’t watch TV in the dark. The results of one study showed that the old wives may be right! “Eyestrain can occur when the eyes are fixed on an object for a long period of time, there is poor lighting, or there is glare. One scenario believed to cause eyestrain is watching television in a dark room. In this case, visual discomfort is caused by the large difference in luminance between the television screen and the room’s dark background.” The takeaway point? Keep the lights on in your TV room so that your eyes won’t be shifting constantly between the bright light of TV or your computer and a darker room.
Make It Happen
- Every 10 minutes, look 10 feet away for 10 seconds (when doing nearsighted work).
- Sleep in the dark or wear a blindfold.
- Cup your palms over your eyes for micro-breaks throughout the day.
- Blink more often and rinse your eyes whenever you wash your hands.
- Open your eyes wide and clench them closed, three times, before going to sleep.
- Whenever you look at something, close your eyes for three seconds, and visualize seeing it in perfect detail.
- Read small print or regular size print at distance for 10 minutes each day.
Questions and Answers
Do you have any special recommendations for people who wear glasses?
Keep in mind, glasses rarely make your eyesight better. They certainly don’t cure your vision.
Notice that each visit to the optometrist normally results in a stronger prescription – not a weaker one.
For activities where you don’t need your glasses – don’t wear them. This will allow your eyes to build up their strength – or at least help retain your current level of eyesight. Otherwise, if you keep on giving them a crutch, your eyes only continue to deteriorate. You may try watching movies or videos without your glasses. Most of the time it isn’t critical that you see every detail of what’s happening – so you can turn idle viewing into an opportunity to build up your eyesight.
Another technique some people have used with success is to actually wear a weaker eyeglass prescription that actually can strengthen your eyesight. Try reading consciously with such a pair of glasses for 30 minutes a day and see if after a month your eyesight improves. Keep in mind, when doing any of the techniques outlined in this section, that when your eyesight begins to improve your current prescription will become invalid. Your vision will actually seem worse while wearing your glasses. Make sure to judge your progress based on times when you are not wearing your glasses.
I have a pair of those black pinhole glasses that are supposed to exercise your eyes. What do you think of them?
I used to wear them years ago and just recently got a new pair. I do wear reading glasses, but I want to strengthen my eyes so I don’t need them anymore. I find the pinhole glasses a fun way to exercise and relax my eyes at the same time and they do sharpen my eyesight. You can find a decent pair on Amazon.
Since we use our eyes for so much close work, it is important to have strategies that remind us to blink, relax and look away from our work as often as we can. Put your “blink” sign up and blink and look away from your work as much as you can. It’s a great habit to engage for the health of your eyes.