Exercises for healthy eyes

Increased use of computers is causing immense stress on the eyes. It is important that we take good care of our eyes to maintain good eyesight

Exercises for eyesThere are times when your eyes get strained and stressed. Like the days you spend staring at the computer screen and feel drained and tired.

The toll is taken by not only your body but also your eyes.

The natural state of the body is to be at peace. When we read to understand and learn new information, the mind becomes tense and tries to catch hold. This agitation strains the entire body, including the eyes. This is precisely the reason why people often feel drained after studying or working, even though they have not physically exerted themselves.

Like physical exercise strengthens and de-stresses the body from fatigue, similarly a few simple exercises go a long way in strengthening eye muscles and provide relaxation. The following recommended exercises help counterbalance the effects of eyestrain. The key to doing these exercises is to completely relax and empty the mind as in meditation or yoga.

The following eye exercises are frequently suggested by most health care providers:

Improve Visual Concentration

To strengthen visual concentration, sit comfortably with your back and neck straight but not stiff. Start by holding each below mentioned posture for a few minutes and gradually increase the time.

  • Focus your gaze on the tip of your nose without blinking. Remain in this position for as long as you can. Then close your eyes and relax.
  • Focus on your "third eye" without blinking. This is the area between the eyebrows above your nose. Then close your eyes and relax. It may feel uncomfortable or hard to do at first, but do not give up. Keep your focus on that area and with time, you will find this posture easier to do.
  • Without turning your head, focus both eyes on your left shoulder. Remain in this position for as long as you can. Then close your eyes and relax. Repeat this sequence with the right shoulder.

After you are finished, place the palms of your hands on your closed eyes and rest for some time. This will help eye muscles relax.

Imagination for better eyesight

This is another exercise to improve visual concentration. First lie on your back facing up. Your palms should face the ceiling and your legs should be about shoulder-width apart. If you are doing this exercise in your office then sit comfortably in your chair.

Close your eyes. Breathe into your stomach. Feel it expand as it fills with air. Continue breathing in and out for a few minutes and then open your eyes. Pick a stationary object to look at. Close your eyes again and continue "looking" at that object. This exercise helps to relax your eyes. It also balances mental focus with imagination.

De-stress your eyes

Like the previous exercise, lie on your back facing up with palms facing the ceiling and legs about shoulder-width apart. Sit comfortably in your chair if you are doing this exercise in office.

Close your eyes and place your palms over your closed eyes. Breathe into your stomach. Feel it expand as it fills with air. Continue breathing in and out for a few minutes, and then open your eyes. Pick a stationary object to look at keeping your mind empty. Do not attach yourself to it or stare at it. This exercise teaches you how to focus without straining or depleting your eyes.

The above three exercises help in improving and strengthening visual concentration. However, these alone are not enough for effective eye strengthening. Eyes, as we all know, are subjected to so many ordeals that cause various forms of discomfort and sight problems the most common being headache. The following set exercises that form a part of yoga aim to provide relief and strengthen eye muscles.

  • Sit at the edge of your chair with your back straight. Close your eyes and place the palm of each hand over an eye, so you feel your palms warming your eyes. Remove your hands, keeping your eyes closed. Inhale deeply through your nose. Exhale and let your head drop forward than rotate it from side to side. Then shrug your shoulders, making circles with them forward and backward.
  • Close your eyes tightly and lift and tighten your shoulders as much as you can. Hold for a few seconds and then exhale, suddenly releasing your shoulders and opening your eyes. Repeat this several times.
  • Blink repeatedly, fluttering your eyelids until your eyes become moist. Repeat this several times.
  • Breathing naturally and focus on an object far away from you for about half a minute. Try to maintain your focus, blink rapidly several times. Then focus on a nearby object for about 15 seconds. Try to maintain your focus and blink rapidly several times. To counteract the tendency to squint, look up while exhaling with eyes half open.
  • This exercise helps the extrinsic muscles that move the eyes. Try to keep your head straight and in line with your spine. Roll your eyes into all of the directions below while exhaling. Hold for a few seconds and then return your eyes to the center while you inhale.
  • Keep your head straight and look at the object ahead. Exhale and look from side to side without turning your head. Now try to exhale and turn your head from side to side several times letting your eyes follow the head movement. Then turn your upper body from side to side and let your eyes follow the body movement. Place your palms over your eyes to warm them. When you are ready, remove them and open your eyes.

All these exercises if done at regular intervals, with proper care on inhaling and exhaling of air, provide satisfactory results. For safeguarding eyesight and de-stressing eyes from strain, one should take a break from work for a few minutes every hour.

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Anand Shroff
Anand Shroff MS (Ophth), F.I.C.S., consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon, specialist in – Cataract surgery, Glaucoma, Squint, keratoconus and Laser eye procedures - ReLEx SMILE, LASIK, Bladeless LASIK, EpiLASIK, C3R. He practices in Mumbai at Shroff Eye Hospital- Bandra & Marine Drive.