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Preventative Eye Care: Eye Exercises

Eyesight can be preserved, maintained, and improved with exercise. Muscle in your eyes change the focus between near and distant objects, and dilate and contract the pupils to adjust for different lighting. When these muscles become weak or stiff eyesight becomes poor. Eye exercises keep these muscles flexible and strong and make sure that your brain is accustomed to responding properly using both eyes together for good stereo vision.

Common daily activities cause eye strain, weakening, and eventually atrophy of the eye muscles. We are born with the equipment to see far away for hunting, but lifestyle changes over the last 50 to 100 years have meant that most of us spend extended amounts of time looking at objects close up, and rarely have a need to focus on objects that are far away. Watching television, using computers, playing video games, and even reading can strain and weaken eyes over time.

Relaxing
To see properly your eyes must relax. Tight muscles change focus or respond to changes in lighting quickly and will be limited in their range of movement. One good way to relax your eyes is a method called palming. Simply rub your hands together for about 15 seconds, until they are warm, close your eyes and cup your hands over your eyes. Do not actually touch your eyelids, or place pressure on your face. Do this for two to ten minutes.

Stretching
Place your fingertip on your face and slowly trace a circle around your eye. While doing this follow your finger with your eye. This works with your eyes open or closed, and of course should be done with each eye.

Near-Far
The best way to do this is looking out of a window or outside, but it can be done inside a room if that is all you have to work with. Find a distant object as far away as you can clearly focus. Hold your finger or a pencil as close to your face as you can clearly focus, and in front of the far away object. Then switch your focus back and forth from the distant object and your finger or pencil several times. Do this as quickly as possible, but make sure that you fully focus on both the near and far object before switching.

Stereo Vision
Alternating between parallel and cross vision will help your brain use your eyes together. Parallel vision means that the focal point of your vision is behind the object. Cross vision means that the focal point is in front of the object. Using each will relax the eye muscles and improve coordination between the eyes. Exercises for stereo vision can be difficult at first. Many methods and tools for practicing cross and stereo vision can be found online or can be obtained from a vision therapist.

Vision Therapy
There are a myriad of books and programs available to teach you how to exercise your eyes, all of which can help to some extent. The most effective method is to see a vision therapist, especially if you already have vision problems. A vision therapist will use the results of an eye exam and a thorough interview to give you a customized routine which will address your vision needs. He or she will teach you how to do the exercises properly, how often to do them, how to tell if they are working, and lay out gradual program for increasing the difficulty as your eyes become healthier and stronger.

Schedule an appointment with your eye doctor to learn more about eye exercises for preventing and reversing vision loss. The Eye Care Center of Northern Colorado are experts in eye disease and eye care procedures.

 
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