Eye exercise can help prevent visual impairment

By Dr. Goke Akinrogunde

The Renew Your Eyesight Program is a vision training program used to correct refractive eye errors through systematic eye training exercises. It is a kind of physical training, or rehabilitative training for the eyes so that the flexibility and coordination of the eye muscles is improved. Students of vision training learn to control their eye muscles and are able to overcome many kinds of vision impairment which involve the muscles of the eyes. It involves improving visual skills such as eye teaming, depth perception and tracking.

Our eyes and vision
Vision involves both the ability of the eye to capture images and the ability of the brain to process the signals that the eye sends. Vision deficiencies may be a result of problems from either function.

Our eyeball comprises three layers—sclerotic or the outer layer, choroid or the middle layer and retina or the inner layer. The sclerotic layer is white and opalescent, with a transparent center called the cornea. Light is transmitted to the eye through the cornea. The choroid layer is called the iris, with the pupil at it center where light rays pass through. Directly behind the iris lies the crystalline lens, which focuses light passing through it upon the retina.

Around this lens lie the ciliary muscles that control its contraction and expansion. The retina or the inner layer is like a screen that receives the projected images of external objects.

We see something when the pupil lets light pass through the cornea onto the crystalline lens. Brightness is controlled by the pupil through contraction or dilation. These rays converge upon the retina via the convex crystalline lens, forming an inverse image. The optic nerve then transmits this image to the brain, where the final sense of vision is produced.

Common eye defects
Eye defects can either be acquired, which implies that the person developed it over time, or may be something a person is born with. A number of them are correctable with appropriate measures; whereas some may lead to more serious problems such as blindness if the right measures are not taken to prevent them on time or get them treated early enough.

Myopia
Myopia, also known as nearsightedness, is a condition that occurs when rays of light entering the eye focus in front of the retina rather than directly on it. This may occur for one of two reasons–either the power of the lens is too strong or the eyeball itself is too long. 
Those who suffer from myopia are able to see objects that are close just fine, however objects at a distance, no matter how large, appear blurry to them. This usually requires them to squint to see these objects and can result in headaches or eye strain.

Hyperopia
hyperopia refers to farsightedness. Its effects are the opposite of myopia–people diagnosed with hyperopia can see objects from a distance without a problem but have difficulty with objects that are close to them. This is due to light rays entering the eye behind the retina, rather than on it. Its cause is either from an eyeball that is too short or a lens that is too weak.

Astigmatism
Astigmatism as an eye defect is quite common, this defect does not allow the rays of light to enter the retina at any single point; some may come in or behind it, while others may focus directly on it. Those with this condition may see lines or forms in different ways–some may appear clear while others appear blurry.

Strabismus
When the eyes are not properly positioned or if the length of the eye is not proportional, one or both of eyes may become misaligned and the concern person may not be able to track movement. This condition, called strabismus, may interfere with depth perception and can lead to reading disabilities.
All the above mentioned eye defects are amenable to a number of ameliorative measures, especially the use of prescription glasses, which interestingly have been likened to the use of crutches as walking aid in those with walking impairment; implying that using glasses do not correct permanently but will only aid vision when it is put on. Here comes the force of argument of the proponents of natural eye exercises to correct vision defects, including those not listed above.

Eye Exercises
The use of eye exercises to correct vision was first mooted more than a century ago, in 1891, by New York physician, Dr William Horatio Bates. He recommended eye exercises to treat and cure eye defects, especially those caused by refractive error. Dr Bates original concept of using eye exercises to treat and cure vision defect had gone through serial revision and researched improvements over the years. The concept of natural cure for vision defects through programmed physical eye exercises is now widely practiced in the US and beyond with many acclaimed successes recorded in different classes of people across different age groups. The IGC Eye Training Centre Program is the first of such in Nigeria.

One of these eye exercises as originally conceived by Dr Bates takes about 3 minutes. First you need to get in a comfortable position and it doesn’t matter if you stand or sit. Now position your thumb about 10 inches from your face and focus on it. Now switch your focus on something else about 20 feet in front of you. Every time you take a deep breath you should switch your focus between both your thumb and the object 20 feet in front of you. This eye exercise will make the muscles in your eyes stronger over time and improve your overall vision.

Another well known eye exercise to improve your vision is referred to as palming. To perform this exercise you first need to take a few deep breaths. Now take the cup of your palm and use it to cover your closed eyes. Your fingers should be on your forehead and the heel of your hand should be resting on your cheekbone. You should be applying moderate pressure so your eyes can still blink freely. Palming is designed to relieve the stress around the eyes and relax them.

These eye exercises may not seem like much but they can make a huge difference. The best part about these eye exercises is the fact that they will only take a few minutes to perform them and they can be performed anywhere and anytime.

Of course, it needs be stressed that for effective and enduring results to be achieved with curing eye defects, via natural mean of exercising the eyes, it takes much more than the examples mentioned above. It involves the path of varied packaged programs for different conditions and age groups under the professional guidance of eye training consultants and therapists.