Eye Exercises: Can Vision Be Improved Naturally?
Advances In Vision Correction Technology
For centuries people have looked for ways to correct their vision without wearing eye glasses. For some, especially those with thick "coke bottle" lenses, it is a question of vanity. Others just don't like the hassle of trying to keep up with glasses, breaking them or losing them. Glasses may make engaging in sports more difficult.
According to history experts, the basic principle of contacts was born when Leonardo Da Vinci sketched ideas for corneal neutralization. Later, in the 1600s Rene Descartes described a glass tube filled with an animal jelly attached to the eye. In 1889 August Muller, a German medical student who wanted to correct his own severe myopia invented a crude contact lens made of blown glass. Large and heavy, it covered most of the eye and could only be worn for a short period of time without the pain of corneal hypoxia.
As centuries passed pioneers experimented with materials in the quest for comfortable contacts and succeeded. By the latter part of the 20th century, clean, soft and inexpensive disposable contacts were a reality. Still, some were not satisfied with just contacts. A young woman talks about the time her contact fell out while skydiving and seeing it in her goggles. Another complains of dust and pollen underneath her contacts.
Advanced vision technology led to Radial Keratotomy in the early 1980s followed by Photorefractive Keratotomy. Finally, Laser assisted in situ Keratomileusis, better known as Lasik, a procedure in which doctors access the cornea and reshape it with laser surgery was introduced. Risks involved, expense and squeamish feelings at the thought of eye surgery are problems for some. Others are poor candidates and will need implantable lens if they want to throw away their glasses and contacts for good.
Is there a way to have good vision without glasses, contacts or surgery?
History of Natural Vision Correction
Natural vision correction was introduced early in the 20th century by Dr. William Bates, an eye care physician. Bates was a strong proponent of the theory corrective lenses, or eyeglasses caused vision to deteriorate. He worked by the principle that minus prescription lenses overpower the visual system and the stress actually deteriorate vision. Thus, we keep needing stronger and stronger prescriptions. He devised A regime of eye exercises combined with relaxation and positive thinking. He was so sure that his theory was correct he kept an anvil in his office to smash his patent's glasses with.
Medical professionals of his time denounced Bate's theory and they still do today. Vision experts contend that there is little or no scientific evidence to support his theory.
Programs similar to the Bate's method is the See Clearly method. In 2005, the Attorney General of Iowa filed a consumer fraud lawsuit against Vision Improvement Technologies, the See Clearly promoter. On November 1, 2006, the See Clearly Method became no longer available. They suggested that the attorney general was paid off by a bribe from the American Optometric Association (AOA). The AVI later offered a downloadable program for $35 claiming that the program can "reduce, perhaps even eliminate dependency on glasses or contacts."
Advocates of these natural vision correction methods still exist and programs can be purchased claiming that users will be able to "throw away their glasses and contacts in little time". Some mention the "secret" that ophthalmologists and optometrists don't want us to know.
Common Vision Problems
To decide if natural vision correction does or does not work it is helpful to understand refractive vision errors. When light waves travel they are either bent, absorbed, reflected or deflected depending on the material they travel through. A simple experiment with a pencil in a glass of water shows that light rays are bent when traveling through water. In the same way, light rays are bent when they enter the eye structure. In a refractive vision error, the eyeball itself is misshaped; the light that enters the eye gets focused either in front of or behind the retina rather than on it like it should.
Myopia is a condition in which the eyeball is too long. The light from distant objects gets focused in front of the retina. Close up objects can be seen while distant objects appear blurry.
In Hyperopia (farsightedness) the light gets focused in back of the retina. This usually happens because the eyeball is too short. Far off objects are seen clearly while close up objects are blurry.
Astigmatism is a condition in which the cornea is abnormally curved causing light to enter at two focal points resulting in distortion. A lens to correct the distortion will be needed.
Presbyopia is a condition of aging in which the cornea and lens of the eye become more rigid and cannot change shape more readily to bring light to focus on the retina. Objects from both near and far will be blurry. Bifocals will be prescribed with the top part for seeing far and the bottom for seeing near.
Four Basic Eye Exercises
- Practice focusing on far off objects with a low contrasting background such as a white poster on a white wall.
- Without moving your head pretend to "write" with your eyes.
- Hold reading material up close, then look up and glance at something 10 feet away, then look back again. Gradually increase distance.
- 20/20/20 exercise: every 20 minutes move away from your computer screen or close-up work. Focus on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Pros And Cons Of Natural Vision Correction
The shape of the eyeball and the way light enters and gets focused determines whether or not we have refractive vision errors. Little to no evidence exists that refractive errors can be corrected with eye exercises or positive thinking. In 2004 the AAO did a study of natural vision care provided to patients. Although some said their nearsightedness had improved no improvements were noted when they were tested. The "improvements" were labeled as a result of a placebo effect. Conclusively, although the eye is a muscle exercising it like the body is not going to improve vision. Glaucoma and macular degeneration can not be helped with eye exercises.
However, natural vision correction has support from some practitioners of alternative medicine. They maintain that Dr. Bates went too fast with his approach. Patients should be given slightly weaker lenses slowly overtime. They support the idea that exercises make the eye muscle more flexible. Because strain on the eyes can make the eyes deteriorate vision can benefit from the exercises.
Although scientific evidence clearly indicates that the shape of the eye and point of focus of light causes near or far sightedness, to perform eye exercises would not worsen the condition. Eye exercises, along with vitamin therapy may slow the rate of decline in myopia. Programs for natural vision correction usually require some time and efforts. There is no damage that could result from their use.
A program of natural vision correction that claims to be able to "throw away your glasses in 30 or 45 days or so" should be avoided. Research eye exercise programs carefully or look for exercises that are no cost. Discuss your findings and other options with your eye doctor.
Considering Vision Correction Surgery
Don't turn a "blind eye" (no pun intended) to corrective vision surgery. If they seem too scary or expensive ask yourself how badly you really want to toss those glasses or contacts.
The following chart lists and highlights the major vision correction surgeries. Explore in depth individually the one most relevant to you.
Technology has been kind to those with vision problems. As with all technology vision correction technology changes. Procedures and prices are not constant.
Vision Correction Procedure
for patients with thin corneas, near or far sighted
blade used; doctors access cornea and reshape with laser
Intralasik, Custom Lasik
doctors use laser to create a very thin, precise flap
measurement system; extremely precise,myopia,hperopia,astigmatism
not listed; significantly higher due to royalty fee to device manufactorer
near vision problems from aging
standard lasik price if distance vision is good.extra $300 per eye for distance correction
Corneal Inlays, Onlays
made of material that closely resembles eye itself
currently still in clinical trials