Protect Your Windows to the World

Could you exercise your eyes like you exercise the rest of your body and just throw away your glasses? Behavioural optometrists believe that you can improve your vision, need less correction in your lenses, and make your eyes healthier through a series of exercises like the ones that follow:

•Palming is a method of resting your eyes in total darkness. Rub your palms together briskly to warm them, and place them over your closed eyes without pressing on them. Relax your mind and concentrate on the darkness before you.

•Sunning uses natural light to trigger essential physical processes in your body. It is best done for two to five minutes a few times a day before 10 a.m. and after 4 p.m., so you can avoid the hours of brightest sunlight. With your eyes closed, face the sun and slowly move your head from left to right. After about three minutes, stop for a brief session of palming. The contrast between these two actions helps make your pupils more flexible.

•Blinking is a natural action that rests your eyes, stretches your eye muscles, massages your eyeballs, and forces your pupils to dilate and contract. Many people dont blink enough, and this can be harmful to your eyes. To do this exercise, make dozens of quick blinks as you turn your head slowly from side to side for about 20 seconds.

•Watching a ball improves the shifting of your eyes. Toss a tennis ball into the air and watch it while blinking frequently. Or you can watch a live tennis match, focusing on the back-and-forth motion of the ball.

•Thumb zooming exercises your figure and ground focusing. Place your arm out straight in front of you with your thumb up. Relax, breathe, and blink frequently while you focus on your thumb, noting its clear outline against a fuzzy background. Shift your focus to something in the background, at least 10 feet away, and you will see two thumbs. Move your focus back and forth several times between your thumb and the background.

• Edging helps your eyes sweep the visual field with rapid shifts and discourages staring. Pick out an object beyond your clear range of vision and use your nose as a pointer to trace the edges of the object. Move your head naturally as you trace the outline, then repeat the process and trace in the opposite direction.

• Eye stretching helps the coordination of your eyes by moving them in a systematic manner, as well as stretching the eye muscles and improving circulation. For these exercises, you need to relax, breathe, and blink frequently:

1. Squeeze your eyes tightly shut and hold for a few seconds, then open them suddenly. Repeat several times, closing your eyes as you exhale and opening them as you inhale.

2. With your eyes open, look up as far as you can, then look down as far as you can. Do this without straining, keeping your head facing forward and your neck and shoulders relaxed.

3. Do this exercise only if it doesn’t strain your eyes. Look way up while inhaling, then down while exhaling. Do 20 quick blinks. Look as far to the right as you can, then as far to the left as you can, repeating 10 times. Do 20 more quick blinks, then look up to the right, down to the left, up to the left, and down to the right. Repeat 10 times.

Good Nutrition Clears Up Cloudy Vision

Remember when you were a child, and your mother told you to eat your carrots because they were good for your eyes? Well, it turns out that she was absolutely right. A recent study has shown that eating vegetables high in carotenoids, a yellow pigment found naturally in some fruits and vegetables, can reduce your risk of developing blindness later in life.

Age-related macular degeneration (AMD) is the leading cause of irreversible blindness in people over 65 years old in the United States. It occurs when the retina and other parts of your eye begins to deteriorate and gradually decrease your ability to see. Once it occurs, there isn’t much doctors can do to help.

However, it now seems clear that eating lots of healthy vegetables containing carotenoids can help prevent AMD. The theory is that carotenoids prevent the damage that would be caused by scavenging free radicals (cell-damaging particles) within the structure of your eyes.

In the study of 876 people, those who ate the most vegetables containing carotenoids had a 43 percent lower risk of developing AMD. Carrots, sweet potatoes, cabbage, cauliflower, and winter squash are high in carotenoids, but dark green, leafy vegetables, such as broccoli and brussels sprouts, seem to provide the best protection of all.

Eye-opening News about Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A is an essential nutrient for the normal function of the retinas of your eyes. One of the first symptoms of vitamin A deficiency is the loss of your ability to see well at night. Eventually, a severe lack of vitamin A can cause complete blindness.

Scratch that Urge to Rub your Eyes

It may feel good at the end of a long day to rub your eyes, but it’s actually a bad habit that can hurt your eyes. A tiny muscle, the levator, raises and holds your upper eyelid in place. It is held in place by a tiny band of tissue that can deteriorate with age. Rubbing your eyes can strain this tissue and speed up the process, causing your eyelids to droop.

Eye rubbing is dangerous for people who are near-sighted or who have had cataract surgery. Vigorous rubbing can put pressure on your eyeball and cause detachment of your retina. A detached retina can only be repaired with delicate eye surgery.

If you feel that you must rub your eye, rub just under your eyebrow, or the skin over your cheekbone and under your eye. This should provide relief from itching or irritation of your eye. Eye-rubbing may be a tough habit to break, but it’s worth the effort to take care of your ‘windows to the world.’