The idea that certain eye movement patterns can correct vision abnormalities such as near- or farsightedness has been around since the 1920s. While there’s no scientific evidence to support these claims, exercising the eyes does have health benefits.
The eyes are supported by bands of muscles (the extraocular muscles) that control their movement. Exercising those muscles can improve circulation to the eyes, which helps reduce inflammation and minimize eye fatigue. Strong eye muscles also protect against the negative effects of vision overuse patterns, such as digital eye strain or frequent night driving.
Below are two eye exercises; the first is for general eye health and the other is for glaucoma.
Figure Eight Eye Exercise
You may have practiced this exercise, sometimes called “yoga eyes,” if you’ve ever taken a yoga class. This exercise should be done from a seated position, such as at your desk, while relaxing in your favorite chair, or in an easy, seated yoga pose.
- Pick a point on the floor about 10 feet in front of you and focus on it.
- Trace an imaginary figure eight with your eyes.
- Keep tracing for 30 seconds, then switch directions.
Exercise to Reduce Intraocular Pressure Related to Glaucoma
Perform either option A or option B in combination with the blinking technique, performed simultaneously. These can be done with or without wearing your glasses.
A. Alternate between looking at very distant and very close objects. For example, when seated or standing, alternate between looking at your thumb, then looking at an object that is farther away, such as a building or a tree. Repeat several times.
B. Alternate between looking right and left.
Blinking Technique. Very light and fast blinking, the eyelids are light as “butterfly wings”.
While not all vision abnormalities or medical conditions can be corrected by eye exercises, keeping the eye muscles strong, flexible, and nourished is essential to protecting eye health.
- American Academy of Ophthalmology Report: Complementary Therapy Assessment: Visual Training For Refractive Errors(August 2013) Accessed 4 Mar 2019: https://www.aao.org/complimentary-therapy-assessment/visual-training-refractive-errors-cta–october-200
- American Optometric Association: “Definition of Optometric Vision Therapy.” Accessed 4 Mar 2019: https://www.aoa.org/Documents/CRG/definition-of-optometric-vision-therapy.pdf
- Neuroscience, 2nd edition.”The Actions and Innervation of Extraocular Muscles.” Accessed 4 Mar 2019: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK10793/
- HealthLine.com: “Eye Exercises: How-to, Efficacy, Eye Health, and More.” Accessed 4 Mar 2019: https://www.healthline.com/health/eye-health/eye-exercises
- YogaInternational.com “4 Exercises for Eye Strain” https://yogainternational.com/article/view/4-yoga-exercises-for-eye-strain