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5 Ways to Exercise for Better Vision

Updated on January 31, 2015

20/20 eyesight only comes from the central ONE degree of your 180 degree field of vision.

by Glen Swartwout

How much visual space was in your awareness BEFORE thinking about this? Can you notice a change when you bring your conscious attention to your visual awareness of the entire volume of space around you?

There are actually hundreds of different eye and vision exercises. Here are 5 ways you can look at categorizing them all. I have categorized them according to the ancient 5 Element model for the development of consciousness that I lay out in the video below. This way you won't miss any of these important aspects in designing your complete vision and eye health improvement program!

1. Practice Seeing More of Your Peripheral Vision in Coherence with Inner Spatial Body Awareness.

2. Tune Your Focus to Meaningfulness to Foster Effortlessly Sustainable Attention.

3. Train Your Mind to Develop the Parallel Processing of Visual Thinking for Facile Cognition.

4. Exercise Your Will: Use All Your Muscles in Coordination with Eye-robics

5. Develop Your Foresight Using Your Mind's Eye to Develop Internal Organization and Transcendent Structure with Visualization

Exercise #1. Expand Your Peripheral Vision

Let yourself be fully present in your body and with your visual environment.

Here's the best way to start right now: Stop trying to see. Let go of wanting sharper eyesight. Release any thought of effort. Perfect vision is perfectly automatic... Better vision starts with the NOT doing of looking.

Vision is the dominant sense in humans, accounting for two thirds of the electrical nerve current flowing into the waking brain. Nurture the development of your consciousness by expanding your peripheral vision one heartbeat and one breath at a time.

Relax. Allow yourself to take a breather. Open your both of your eyes and allow the fullness of your visual field to be received by your consciousness. Breaking your chronic patterns of stress is a first crucial step to making sustainable changes in your visual health and fitness.

Your expanded peripheral awareness, along with your breath and heart-centered whole body awareness lay a broad and solid foundation for the higher level vision exercises to follow. Because the point of this first level is sustainable relaxed and open awareness, this can be an ongoing meditative state that you bring to every activity in your day. And in a very real way, this will bring more of your day present to you!

Exercise #2: Develop Your Focus of Visual Attention

Develop flexibility between the centering of the eye and the centering of your visual attention.

Centering attention is more than just looking at something. A basketball player may be looking at their opposing guard, but centering attention on the basket to fake out the opponent. Practice feeling the difference between centering your visual attention on the point you are looking at versus on the open focus of attending to your peripheral vision. You can also practice eccentric fixation, like the basketball player, attending to something specific in your peripheral visual field. For people suffering loss of central vision as in Macular Degeneration, learning to fixate eccentrically can help maximize the use of the remaining vision. Also, based on recent research on training improved peripheral vision in glaucoma, accentuating the use of the visual fields actually helps improve the peripheral vision.

The focus of visual attention also has a lot to do with the optical focusing of the ciliary muscle, which controls the focus of the crystalline lens in the eye. This optical focus is affected not only by the distance of the object of attention in the central vision, but also by the nature and meaning of the object of the mind's centre of attention. Normally, if you are reading something that is challenging to understand, the focus of the eyes will also so stress. It is said that once, Einstein's focus was being tested in this regard, and they had to have him read in one language, translate in his mind through a second and third languages before his eyes showed this kind of stress. For the rest of us, then, improving the flexibility of our optical focus in relation to our mental focus has room for improvement.

Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensions
Fixing My Gaze: A Scientist's Journey Into Seeing in Three Dimensions

This is a true story written by a scientist who experienced the profound difference Vision Therapy and full 3D vision made in her life. One in three people don't realize they are suppressing one eye, thus not fully using the two eyes as a coherent team for full stereoscopic depth perception.


Exercise #3: Do Mental Gymnastics While Improving Your Vision

When we say "I see" we also mean I understand. The truth is that understanding happens when we see with our mind's eye. We see the relationship of what is present in our environment to the visual recall of past experiences and the meanings we associate with those memory traces.

Effortless vision requires more than just noticing something and centering our eyes on it. We must identify it, which means we have derived a cognitive relationship between the present sensory input and our knowledge from the past. Find ways to be fully present with the visual environment while at the same time dividing your attention on a conscious challenge of a thinking task. Some examples are counting backwards by threes, or spelling a word backwards. Use whatever simple or complex task you can create that, for you, is just complex enough to be challenging and fun, and not so hard that it is frustrating or impossible. As your visual presence becomes more automatic, you can gradually increase the complexity of the internal mental challenge.

Rebounding exercises every cell in the body, not just muscles!
Rebounding exercises every cell in the body, not just muscles!

Exercise #4: Move Your Eyes and Move Your Body with Awareness, Attention & Thought!

Exercise improves vision and eye health.

Rebounding is one of the most efficient exercises, not just for muscles, but for every cell type in the eye from neurons to blood vessels to connective tissues. Eye exercises have long been promoted to improve vision and eye health. Dr. Bates was an ophthalmologist who developed a series of practices that included movement of the eyes and of the whole body, such as his swinging technique. There are many books and teachers available who emphasize the nearly century old method. But in World War II, thousands of would-be American pilots failed the vision test for pilot training... until they retrained their eyes and vision. This experience advanced the knowledge of how to improve vision. Since then Doctors of Optometry have continued to investigate and learn more about how vision develops, and how it can be stimulated to develop in children, or be rehabilitated after a stroke or closed head injury.

When you are reading something fairly simple in print, try moving your head, body and the reading material in slow, smooth arcs. Vary the distance and direction of the print matter from your eyes. How easily and smoothly can you do this. Do you lose your place? Do you find areas or postures where you notice any strain in your eyes, neck or body? The eye muscles are strongly linked by reflexes with the neck muscles. This is one reason why reading, computer and desk work or digital devices can contribute to tension headaches. Did you remember to maintain awareness of your breath, your heart centre and your peripheral vision? Try again with this thought in mind...

A study in The Journal of Neuroscience is the first to confirm that aerobic exercise promotes regeneration and repair in the retina, as it does in the rest of the brain. This is because exercise stimulates production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). When BDNF receptors were blocked, the neuroprotection was, too. With exercise before the stress, 50% fewer retinal cells died. At the same time, exercise also increased the eye's response to light. Exercise turns light from a stress into better vision. According to study co-author Machelle Pardue, Ph.D., this is the first time exercise has been shown to improve vision and eye health. This study supports exercise for prevention and treatment of blinding diseases including diabetes, glaucoma and macular degeneration. For the whole story see:

For more exercises specific for your eyes and vision, and incorporating your whole body, see Refreshing Vision: Opening the Windows of the Soul.

Jillian's Story: How Vision Therapy Changed My Daughter’s Life
Jillian's Story: How Vision Therapy Changed My Daughter’s Life

When you see the life changes that greater connection to the visual world brings to Jillian, you will wonder what it will do for your child, too.


Exercise #5: Develop Foresight

Wisdom is the result of structured visualization

The crowning jewel of vision is visualization. As we navigate the cosmos in this life and the next, visualization serves as our mapping function. It is our internal structure and organization that we bring to life that gives us insight... and foresight into the multiple paths we may follow with our action, our will. By developing the precursors:

1. Spatial Awareness

2. Visual Attention

3. Visual Thinking

4. Visual Memory through visually based acts of the will,

you have begun to build the foundation of visualization. You can begin practicing visualization in the dark or with your eyes closed. If you can't yet see imagery with your third, or pineal, inner eye, also called the seat of the soul, start simple. Try Dr. Bates' method of warming, energizing and relaxing the eyes called Palming. Rub the palms together vigorously until they are warm. Place them over the two eyes so that the eyes can remain open, but there is no visible light peaking through. Now focus on breath and heart centering. Do you see any movement, light or color? You can tell that this is an internal experience, not light coming through a gap between your hand and your face... As you continue this peaceful, relaxing, healing activity for a couple minutes, the appearance of light will tend to diminish until you can see full blackness.

Palming also has some benefits of Infrared therapy. Infrared frequencies are not seen, but they can be felt as heat. These frequencies are absorbed by the water in the body, unlike 'normal' bulk water. That is because the structure of water in biological systems is quite different that plain old water. This is an important topic which I will talk much more about in my books and DVDs...

As a next step, with eyes closed, in the dark, or while palming, try visualizing simple forms. Use your hands in space to help make them more real by bringing in your other senses at first. Then see if you can maintain the visible imagery without your hands. Try intentionally rotating the images around in your visualization space. The ability to see with the mind's eye demands that all the other visual abilities are working smoothly, so if this is a challenge for you, keep working on all of the other levels of vision development. And if you have difficulty with spelling words in English, you can definitely use more practice with visualization!

Access more advanced visual training activities. - By varying your exercise activities as you progress, you can continue to challenge your abilities to improve.

Refreshing Vision: Opening the Windows of the Soul contains instructions for dozens of professional quality exercises. Most of these can be done at home without the need for any specialized materials or professional support. Some of Dr. Glen's favourite advanced exercises are also included, along with several sources to find a doctor in your area who can help you with the necessary materials and supervision to help you get the greatest benefits.

The take home message for healing, eyes and vision...

Seeing it all in perspective:

Essentially, if we move energy through our whole bodies, our bodies adapt to be able to handle energy flow. That is now documented to include the eyes.

The eyes carry an enormous amount of circulation. The entire blood volume of the body actually passes through the eyes every 40 minutes. We stimulate that function with aerobic exercise. It is crucial that you do not push your exercise into a sustained anaerobic state, where breath would become laboured, or you would find it challenging to talk or sing while exercising. You always want to be able to whistle while you work! The retina is actually the most oxygen demanding tissue in the body... more so than the rest of the brain. And the macula, the central part of the retina where we have our most detailed vision needs more oxygen than the rest of the retina!

Keep this in mind as you open your awareness simultaneously to your central vision, your peripheral vision and your breath. Let this exercise in awareness become a holy trinity that lives inside you without any effort, simply by bringing it back into awareness each time you think of it. After practicing daily for a few weeks, you should notice that your body is more relaxed, you are becoming more coordinated (fewer accidents and bruises) and you are enjoying a higher quality of life. Let any indicators of stress, like strong emotions or body discomfort be a reminder to bring some attention back to the first step of conscious development: the fundamental of awareness. I hope that helps! Let me know what you experience in the feedback form at the bottom of this page, and try some of my favourite follow-along exercises in my book Refreshing Vision.

The eye is the only part of the body where that blood is able to absorb the full spectrum of light, unfiltered by melanin, the skin pigment molecule that is made of neurotransmitters, and develops embryologically from the neural crest tissue that also forms the entire endocrine system. The endocrine system is actually regulated by frequency (color) sensitive pathways from the retina as well as the light/dark cycle that keeps every cell in the body in coordinated coherence through the pineal (third eye) secretion of melatonin during sleep. Melatonin is the only hormone that communicates directly with the DNA in every cell of the body. Look for a detailed guide to light, colour and frequency therapies along with other vibrational and energy medicines in my new book Anima Medica, which means the Soul of Medicine, a complement to Materia Medica: Vis Medicatrix Naturae Volume 1 (The Materials of Medicine: The Healing Power of Nature).

When you are choosing to do anything in life, whether it is aerobic, or eye-robic, or anything else, be sure it is not robotic. The development of consciousness and the improvement of health and performance demands that you be interested and enjoying meaningful activity. Even if you have no choice in doing an activity that you find challenging or unpleasant, find a way in your thinking to reframe the meaning of it into something positive. Then enjoy the refreshed flavour of that glass now half full... Blessings and peace be to you...

More suggested reading on Vision Improvement Activities:

Eyegames: Easy and Fun Visual Exercises: An OT and Optometrist Offer Activities to Enhance Vision!
Eyegames: Easy and Fun Visual Exercises: An OT and Optometrist Offer Activities to Enhance Vision!

Here is another great resource for activities designed to stimulate development of visual abilities. Occupational and Physical Therapists, like Physiatrists, can relate to the Vision Therapy approach as medical rehabilitation specialists.


Explore the foundations of vision and consciousness. - From the Structure of Intellect to the 5 Elements.

Dr. Glen brings together East and West in a unique synthesis of the fundamental inner workings of consciousness. Enjoy!

Good books related to Optometric Vision Therapy - As you learn more about vision, you will be amazed at how our dominant sense affects our quality of life...

Ralph Nader once commented that Vision Therapy was the best kept secret of the Optometric profession. Not many eye doctors actually offer it to their patients, although every single Doctor of Optometry is specifically trained, tested and licensed to do so. It is really a sub-specialty in the eye care field. Find a doctor in your area who can properly evaluate your family, or you may be missing the opportunity of a lifetime (I list the best places to look online for each approach to the field in my book Refreshing Vision). When I was 8 years old, my father, a pioneer in the field, put me into Vision Therapy, and my academic performance blossomed from C's to straight A's ever since. Research on intelligence shows many areas of improvement with Vision Therapy, but surprisingly, the area most improved is vocabulary! How can a child label something they aren't able to identify? And this is usually not an issue of clarity of focus, since most children with learning related vision disorders have 20/20 visual acuity. There are so many other equally important visual functions to consider, and no good way to assess them without a full developmental vision evaluation, NOT just an eye examination.

Eye Power: An Updated Report on Vision Therapy
Eye Power: An Updated Report on Vision Therapy

This is a great book to get the big picture on the importance of Vision and how it is so much more than just 20/20 eyesight.


Notes to your future self

Spend 20 minutes a day following activity instructions for Refreshing Vision.

Learn more about personal Biofield Catalyst programs for Accelerated Self-Healing

Watch videos from Healing Oasis at

How Behavioral Optometry Can Unlock Your Child's Potential: Identifying and Overcoming Blocks to Concentration, Self-Esteem and School Success with Vision Therapy
How Behavioral Optometry Can Unlock Your Child's Potential: Identifying and Overcoming Blocks to Concentration, Self-Esteem and School Success with Vision Therapy

Here is a great book by a professor at the top school for Optometry and Vision Therapy, the State University of New York, my alma mater.


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      4 years ago

      Great eye health improvement program. Good info! Sundae ;-)


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