Few optometrists will admit and the greatest majority are unaware that glasses and contacts are almost guaranteed to destroy your eyesight over time. Unfortunately, they're not trained on natural and preventative solutions that improve vision in the long-term because they simply do not understand the way the eye works. Contrary to popular belief, your vision doesn't have to decline over time. With regular exercise of the muscles that control your eye movements and visual acuity, you can reduce eyestrain and maintain or even improve your vision without any destructive correctional conventions such as laser surgery, glasses or contact lenses.
Most writers on ophthalmology appear to believe that the last word about problems of refraction has been spoken, and from their viewpoint the last word is a very depressing one. Practically everyone in these days suffers from some form of refractive error. Yet we are told that for these ills, which are not only so inconvenient, but often so distressing and dangerous, there is not only no cure, and no palliatives save those optic crutches known as eyeglasses or contacts, but, under modern conditions of life, practically no prevention.
With one accord ophthalmologists tell us that the visual organ of man was never intended for the uses to which it is now put. Eons before there were any schools or printing presses, electric lights or moving pictures, its evolution was complete. In those days it served the needs of the human animal perfectly. Man was a hunter, a herdsman, a farmer, a fighter. He needed, we are told, mainly distant vision; and since the eye at rest is adjusted for distant vision, sight is supposed to have been ordinarily as passive as the perception of sound, requiring no muscular action whatever. Near vision, it is assumed, was the exception, necessitating a muscular adjustment of such short duration that it was accomplished without placing any appreciable burden upon the mechanism of accommodation.
While primitive man appears to have suffered little from defects of vision, it is safe to say that of persons over twenty-one living under civilized conditions nine out of every ten have imperfect sight, and as the age increases the proportion increases, until at forty it is almost impossible to find a person free from visual defects. Voluminous statistics are available to prove these assertions.
What Glasses and Contacts Do To Us
That glasses or contact lenses cannot improve the sight to normal can be very simply demonstrated by looking at any color through a strong convex or concave glass. It will be noted that the color is always less intense than when seen with the naked eye; and since the perception of form depends upon the perception of color, it follows that both color and form must be less distinctly seen with glasses than without them. Even plane glass lowers the vision both for color and form, as everyone knows who has ever looked out of a window. Women who wear glasses for minor defects of vision often observe that they are made more or less color-blind by them, and in a shop one may note that they remove them when they want to match samples. If the sight is seriously defective, the color may be seen better with glasses than without them.
That glasses or contact lenses must injure the eye is evident from the facts given in the preceding chapter. One cannot see through them unless one produces the degree of refractive error which they are designed to correct. But refractive errors, in the eye which is left to itself, are never constant. If one secures good vision by the aid of concave, or convex, or astigmatic lenses, therefore, it means that one is maintaining constantly a degree of refractive error which otherwise would not be maintained constantly. It is only to be expected that this should make the condition worse, and it is a matter of common experience that it does. After people once begin to wear glasses their strength, in most cases, has to be steadily increased in order to maintain the degree of visual acuity secured by the aid of the first pair. Persons with presbyopia who put on glasses because they cannot read fine print too often find that after they have worn them for a time they cannot, without their aid, read the larger print that was perfectly plain to them before. A person with myopia of 20/ 70 who puts on glasses giving him a vision of 20/20 may find that in a week's time his unaided vision has declined to 20/200, and we have the testimony of Dr. Sidler-Huguenin, of Zurich that of the thousands of myopes treated by him the majority grew steadily worse, in spite of all the skill he could apply to the fitting of glasses for them. When people break their glasses and go without them for a week or two, they frequently observe that their sight has improved. As a matter of fact the sight always improves, to a greater or less degree, when glasses are discarded, although the fact may not always be noted.
That the human eye resents glasses is a fact which no one would attempt to deny. Every oculist knows that patients have to "get used" to them, and that sometimes they never succeed in doing so. Patients with high degrees of myopia and hypermetropia have great difficulty in accustoming themselves to the full correction, and often are never able to do so. The strong concave glasses required by myopes of high degree make all objects seem much smaller than they really are, while convex glasses enlarge them. - These are unpleasantnesses that cannot be overcome. Patients with high degrees of astigmatism suffer some very disagreeable sensations when they first put on glasses, for which reason they are warned by one of the "Conservation of Vision" leaflets published by the Council on Health and Public Instruction of the American Medical Association to "get used to them at home before venturing where a misstep might cause a serious accident." Usually these difficulties are overcome, but often they are not, and it sometimes happens that those who get on fairly well with their glasses in the daytime never succeeded in getting used to them at night.
All glasses contract the field of vision to a greater or less degree. Even with very weak glasses patients are unable to see distinctly unless they look through the center of the lenses, with the frames at right angles to the line of vision; and not only is their vision lowered if they fail to do this, but annoying nervous symptoms, such as dizziness and headache, are sometimes produced. Therefore they are unable to turn their eyes freely in different directions. It is true that glasses are now ground in such a way that it is theoretically possible to look through them at any angle, but practically they seldom accomplish the desired result.
How To Keep Your Eyes Naturally Healthy
Perhaps the single greatest reason why people in today's society suffer from chronic eyestrain and deteriorating vision is the amount of time that is spent staring at computer monitors and television screens.
Your eyes are designed to move regularly. Frequent movement of your eyes is what promotes optimal blood flow and nerve tone to your eyes and the six muscles that control your eye movements.
What follows are several simple eye exercises that you can do on a regular basis to keep your eyes and vision as healthy as possible:
- Look as far to your right as possible for 3-5 seconds, then as far to your left as possible for 3-5 seconds. Rest for a few seconds, then repeat this sequence several times.
- Look as far up as possible for 3-5 seconds, then look as far down as possible for 3-5 seconds. Rest for a few seconds, then repeat this sequence several times.
- Slowly roll your eyes in a circle, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise. Rest for a few seconds, then repeat this sequence several times. Be sure to roll slowly - it should take at least 3 seconds for you to roll your eyes in a full circle.
- Hold a pen in front of you, about an arm's length away. Focus your vision on the tip of your pen for 3-5 seconds, then shift the focus of your vision to an object that is farther away for 3-5 seconds. The greater the distance between your pen and the distant object, the better. If you are indoors, look out a window to find a distant object to focus your vision on. Repeat this sequence of going back and forth between your pen and a distant object several times.
Just for interest's sake, this exercise is used by some professional baseball players to optimize visual acuity, which is essential for the hand-eye coordination that is needed to play pro ball.
Please note that all of these exercises should be done with your eyes, not your head and neck. With this in mind, keep your head and neck still while you take your eyes through the movements described above.
Relearning to See: Improve Your Eyesight - Naturally! is an outstanding book that offers a comprehensive array of exercises and information that can help you support your vision. And if you wear eyeglasses or contacts, following the guidance provided in this book may actually help you do away with your prescription eye wear or at the very least, help prevent deterioration of your visual acuity as you age.
Beyond doing the exercises described above on a regular basis, another way to reduce eyestrain and promote your best vision is to use your fingers to apply gentle pressure to three acupressure points that can help promote healthy blood flow to your eyes and the muscles that surround your eyes.
Frequent and gentle blinking is essential to maintaining healthy eyes and optimal vision because it allows your eyelids to keep your eyes coated with three beneficial layers of tears:
The first layer of tears lies right up against the whites of your eyes, and provides an even coat of protein-rich moisture for the second layer to adhere to.
The middle watery layer helps to wash away foreign debris. It also nourishes the cornea of your eyes with minerals, a variety of proteins, and moisture.
The third outer layer of tears is somewhat oily. It serves to prevent the middle watery layer from evaporating quickly, and provides needed lubrication between your eyes and your eyelids.
If your eyes are not regularly coated with the three layers of tears described above, they will be deprived of ongoing nourishment and cleansing, and they will be unnecessarily strained.
One of the reasons why many of us don't blink as often as we should is that we don't see frequent blinking in mainstream media. Actors and anchor-people are typically trained to blink as infrequently as possible, so when we take in most forms of media, our subconscious minds learn that it isn't normal to blink frequently.
To optimally support your eyes and vision, it's best to blink softly every two to four seconds, which translates to about fifteen to thirty blinks per minute. By consciously making an effort to softly blink at this rate, over time, your body will turn your conscious efforts into a subconscious habit.
If you're thinking that such frequent blinking will make reading a book or viewing a movie uncomfortable, give it a try and you'll see right away that it doesn't take away from these experiences at all.
Here are some notes on blinking to promote optimal eye health and vision:
More Visual Training
A soft and natural blink should occur like the light flap of the wings of a butterfly - this is a good image to visualize as you make an effort to blink softly every two to four seconds.
You should blink regularly during all activities, including reading, working on the computer, and viewing a TV program or film.
Contact lenses can discourage frequent blinking because the back side of your eyelids is not designed to rub over an artificial surface. This is one of several good reasons why contact lenses should be avoided whenever possible.
Some yoga and meditation instructors suggest doing exercises that involve fixating your vision on one object - such as the flame of a candle - and doing your best not to blink. Frequent blinking while doing this type of exercise doesn't take away from the ability to experience inner stillness.
The following techniques, then, are based on these premises: First, that the art of seeing-like other fundamental skills such as talking, walking, and using one's hands-is acquired. Second, this skill is normally learned through unconscious self-instruction in childhood. Third, for many of us in today's pressure-packed world, the only way to keep
perfect sight is to practice techniques of conscious eye relaxation. Finally, if the exercises are performed correctly for a sufficient length of time-in conjunction with a proper diet and a physical conditioning program-eyesight will show permanent improvement. (The corollary to this is that the stronger the lenses you wear now-and the longer the time that you've worn them-the more time and effort you'll have to put forth to achieve better vision.)
It's best to "palm" while sitting or lying on the floor, with your elbows propped on a cushioned surface. Close your eyes and then cover them with the palms of your hands, crossing the fingers of one hand over those of the other on your forehead. Don't, however, apply any pressure on the lids with your palms. Ideally, you'll "see" a field of intense blackness, which indicates a state of perfect relaxation. If instead you witness illusions of light, bright color, or patches of gray, you're tense to some degree. However, don't concentrate on trying to "see" blackness, as the effort itself will produce strain. Rather, passively visualize a pleasant memory-one that helps ease your mind-while keeping your shoulders and neck relaxed. The more frequent and lengthy the periods of palming, the more likely you are to school your eyes to reduce muscle tension, with subsequent benefit to your sight.
This whole-body exercise improves vision, relieves fatigue and stress, and increases the mobility of the eyes. Stand looking straight ahead, with your feet positioned about 12 inches apart. Now, rotate your body-head, trunk, and all-to the left, throwing your weight onto your left foot while you allow your right heel to rise from the floor. Keep your shoulders and neck straight. When you swing to the opposite side, shifting your weight to your other foot, your eyes will cover a 180 degree arc. Absolutely no attempt should be made to focus your sight on anything. Just maintain an attitude of passive relaxation, making about 30 of these "arcs" per minute. You should do this exercise twice daily, completing the swing from side to side 100 times. By doing your swings right before bedtime, you'll prevent eyestrain from occurring during sleep.
Although there's no scientific evidence available to prove that sunning helps vision, many people who have tried it testify to its benefits, particularly those whose eyes have become oversensitive to light.
All sunning should be done with the eyes closed. Sit or stand in the sunlight, face relaxed, and let the rays of the sun penetrate and ease the tension in your eyelids. This is a good way to start off the day, and even a few minutes will help. To avoid possible strain on your eyes, rotate your head slightly from side to side or move it as if you were using your nose to draw a circle around the sun . . . breathe deeply and don't squint.
Central fixation refers to the fact that-since the central portion of the retina is the point of most acute vision-the eye sees only one small part of any object sharply, with all the other areas being slightly blurred. When you look at a thing, your eye shifts very rapidly over it to achieve the illusion of clearly seeing the entire object at once. To demonstrate this fact, look at an object, focusing on its topmost part. Without actually moving your focus downward, try to "see" the bottom of the object. You'll find that its lower details don't appear to be sharp.
A problem-free eye shifts quite rapidly and unconsciously while it is observing. People with imperfect vision often try to see a large part of the visual field at once, all areas equally well simultaneously, without moving their eyes. This puts considerable strain on the eye . . . and also on the brain, the organ that actually has to integrate what you see.
To correct this tendency, it's important to develop your central fixation by teaching your eyes that it's "acceptable" to see only one point clearly at a time. The orbs must learn to move and refocus rapidly, rather than straining to see an entire object at one sighting. You can do this by studying an eye chart, training yourself to look at the top of a letter on the chart while "accepting" an unfocused image of its bottom (and vice versa). When you can accomplish this easily, your eyes will be relaxed, and your vision will be improved.
Most of us rely on our vision to supply 80% to 90% of the information we process about the world. Our sight affects the way that we think and, in addition, the way we think affects our sight. (If you don't believe the latter statement, just remember that you actually see the world upside down. . . but your mind "inverts" the images so that they make sense!) Taking good care of this dominant sense organ, then, is obviously important. Will a regimen of eye-training exercises help you do that . . . and even improve defective vision? There's only one way to answer that question for yourself.