How to keep your eyes fit

Learn how to make your eyes so healthy that they last you a lifetime

Woman rubbing her eyesIn our fast-paced lives, we give due importance to fitness of the body as a whole, but fail to extend it to taking care of our vision. Our eyes are in continuous use from the minute we wake up till we sleep and hence the way we use them affects their fitness all through our lifetime.

The eye muscles include an internal eye muscle, the ciliary muscle that surrounds the lens and six external muscles attached to the outside of the eye. All these muscles have to work synchronously in alignment, balance and coordination to change focus of vision rapidly, track speedy moving objects, create depth perception and focus clearly for both far and near. So let us not make the mistake of taking them for granted.

Eye openers for you

Just by following these simple habits [Shroff Eye OpenersT], you can make sure your eyes remain healthy for the longest time possible:

  1. Do not touch your eyes without washing your hands. Also, avoid touching your eyes when in huge company as eye allergies and infections spread largely in crowds.
  2. Do not read holding the book too close, particularly lying down or for long periods without taking breaks.
  3. Work in a well-lit environment to avoid straining your eyes.
  4. Take frequent breaks. Relax your eyes by looking at pleasant sceneries or even at the colour green.
  5. Use a lubricating eye drop especially while working on the computer. Computer work reduces the blink rate of your eyes up to 70 per cent and induces drying of the eye surface.
  6. Eat a well-balanced and healthy diet. Include vitamin A-rich foods like carrots, eggs and liver in your daily food.
  7. Protect your eyes from the sun; never look at it directly [especially during an eclipse] as it harms your retina. Invest in a good quality sunglasses that gives ultraviolet [UV] protection as exposure to UV-A and UV-B rays cause macular degeneration.
  8. Do not wipe your face with a towel/handkerchief, which you have used to clean your hands and body as the microbes may spread to your eyes.
  9. Check your eyes regularly, more so if you have diabetes. Diabetes is a leading cause of blindness and its early detection and treatment can greatly decrease the risk.
  10. Do not open your eyes deliberately to raindrops, particularly in industrial areas. Raindrops absorb atmospheric pollutants, which could be dangerous for the eyes.
  11. Don’t splash water inside your eyes. As opposed to the common assumption, splashing water inside your eyes washes away the tear film [protective layer] and causes dry eyes in the long run.
  12. Don’t wear eye make-up that is not water-proof as sweat may cause it to run inside the eyes and lead to allergies and infection. Never share eye make-up or eye drops with anyone.
  13. Do not touch the tip of your eye drops bottle and avoid touching your eyes with the bottle tip when instilling the drops.
  14. Lead a healthy lifestyle. Stop smoking and control hypertension as these could increase the risk of macular degeneration.
  15. Use an appropriate protective eyewear during sporting and other recreational activities.

See the difference

Here are some exercises to keep your eyes healthy.

Pencil-push test

This simple test helps to correct convergence insufficiency. Keep a pen or pencil at arms length in the line of vision between the two eyes. Slowly bring the pencil towards the nose. Focus on the tip of the pencil. As you bring the pencil closer, the image becomes double at one point. Stop at this point and again take the pencil away to arms length. Repeat this step.

The aim of this is to bring the point of convergence closer to the eyes and to maintain the single image at its last point. Try to hold the image where it is last seen as a single image. Slowly with improvement, the point of seeing this image as a single image starts getting closer to the eyes.

Tip: If you have glasses, wear them and then do the exercise.

Vision therapy

As per treatment, children with amblyopia [lazy eye] are made to do these as part of the treatment.

  • Solve mazes.
  • Segregate coloured beads or different coloured dals [pulses].
  • Play letter striking. Take a paragraph from a magazine/ newspaper and strike off any specific alphabet, for example strike out all the ‘g’s in one paragraph and so on.
  • Connect the dots [outline] of a cartoon character.
  • Find the maximum differences between two similar pictures.

Note: There is no harmful effect of these exercises if done by any individual, however these are specifically recommended for those with issues described above such as convergence insufficiency or amblyopia in children.

Vishal M Shah
Dr Vishal M Shah is a cornea specialist, anterior segment and refractive surgeon at Shroff Eye Hospital, Mumbai.



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