Dr William Bates, a New York ophthalmologist practising at the beginning of the 20th century, attributed many eye problems to stress, tension and laziness and devised a series of eye exercises to improve eyesight without resorting to lenses or surgery.
ates’ exercises aim to ‘re-educate’ the eye so that it adjusts its focus more efficiently – what he called ‘central fixation.’ The eye muscles need to be able to move freely in order to make the tiny adaptations necessary to centre on the object of your vision. But, according to Bates, many people habitually strain their eyes by keeping them in a fixed position, ‘staring’ at a whole scene rather than allowing constant movement. His exercises teach you to relax the eye muscles and optic nerve and use memory and imagination to improve co-ordination between the eyes and the brain.
Exercises that improve eyesight
‘Palming.’ To rest and relax your eyes, sit comfortably in front of a table, resting your elbows on a stack of cushions high enough to bring your palms easily to your eyes without stooping forward or looking up. Close your eyes and cover them with your cupped palms to exclude light, avoiding pressure on the sockets. Breathe slowly and evenly, relaxing and imagining deep blackness. Begin by doing this for 10 minutes, two or three times a day.
‘Swinging.’ Relax and keep the eyes mobile. Stand up and focus on a distant point, swaying gently from side to side. Repeat 100 times daily, blinking as you sway. Blinking cleans and lubricates the eyes, which is especially important if you spend a lot of time in front of a computer.
‘Colour day.’ You may be asked to have a ‘colour day.’ Choose a colour and look out for it throughout the day. When you see it, be aware of the colour rather than the form. For example, if it’s a red truck, experience the shade of red, not the truck.
‘Sunning’ Try to do this once a day. It requires a sunny day, or a good desk lamp with an incandescent bulb. The exercise is simple. Close your eyes. Look directly at the sun through
your closed eyes. While facing the sun, slowly rotate your head from side to side as far as you can.
This gets the sunlight on the peripheral vision, and it helps bring more blood circulation to your neck. Do this for 3 to 5 minutes. It’s amazing, even on a cold day, how warm the sun feels on your eyes.
EYE EXERCISE TIPS
General tips when doing eye exercises Please take off your glasses or contact lenses, you will then feel more comfortable and relaxed.
When doing the exercises, intensely concentrate on your eyes. Feel them working and coming to life again!
Do them on a regular basis, e.g. ideally 3 times a day. The results will be better.