Posts

Medical News Today: Eye exercises: Some tips and techniques

Many people believe that eye exercises can help improve vision or treat eye conditions.

Although there is limited evidence to suggest that eye exercises can actually enhance vision, eye exercises can help with eye strain, certain eye conditions, and overall well-being.

Eye exercises can be particularly helpful for people who experience digital eye strain, which is related to the prolonged use of computers.

Read on to learn about seven eye exercises.

Eye exercises and their potential benefits

a man looking away from his computer screen as an eye exercise to treat his digital eye strainShare on Pinterest
Looking away from a computer screen every 20 minutes may help people with digital eye strain.

Eye exercises can be helpful for the following conditions:

  • nystagmus, which is an eye movement condition
  • strabismus, which is also an eye movement condition
  • amblyopia
  • myopia
  • visual field defects
  • dyslexia
  • vergence problems
  • ocular motility conditions
  • accommodative dysfunction
  • asthenopia
  • convergence insufficiency
  • visual field deficits following brain injury
  • motion sickness
  • learning difficulties

It is important to note that people with eye conditions such as retinopathy, cataracts, or glaucoma are unlikely to benefit from trying the eye exercises below.

The following are seven eye exercises that people may wish to try for the conditions listed above:

1. The 20-20-20 rule

Digital eye strain can become a problem for people who need to focus on a computer screen all day while working.

The 20-20-20 rule helps ease digital eye strain. The rule is easy: a person needs to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes while working on a computer.

Learn more about the 20-20-20 rule here.

2. Focus change

The focus change exercise can also help with digital eye strain. People should perform this exercise while sitting.

  1. Hold one finger a few inches away from one eye.
  2. Focus the gaze on the finger.
  3. Move the finger slowly away from the face.
  4. Focus on an object farther away, and then back on the finger.
  5. Bring the finger back closer to the eye.
  6. Focus on an object farther away.
  7. Repeat three times.

3. Eye movements

This eye movement exercise also helps with digital eye strain.

  1. Close the eyes.
  2. Slowly move the eyes upward, then downward.
  3. Repeat three times.
  4. Slowly move the eyes to the left, then to the right.
  5. Repeat three times.

4. Figure 8

The figure 8 exercise can also help ease digital eye strain.

  1. Focus on an area on the floor around 8 feet away.
  2. Move the eyes in the shape of a figure 8.
  3. Trace the imaginary figure 8 for 30 seconds, then switch direction.

5. Pencil pushups

Pencil pushups can help people with convergence insufficiency. A doctor might recommend this exercise as part of vision therapy.

  1. Hold a pencil at arm's length, situated between the eyes.
  2. Look at the pencil and try to keep a single image of it while slowly moving it toward the nose.
  3. Move the pencil toward the nose until the pencil is no longer a single image.
  4. Position the pencil at the closest point where it is still a single image.
  5. Repeat 20 times.

6. Brock string

The Brock string exercise helps improve eye coordination.

To complete this exercise, a person will need a long string and some colored beads. They can complete this exercise either sitting or standing.

  1. Secure one end of the string to a motionless object, or another person can hold it.
  2. Hold the other end of the string just below the nose.
  3. Place one bead on the string.
  4. Look straight at the bead with both eyes open.

If the eyes are working correctly, a person should see the bead and two strings in the shape of an X.

If one eye is closed, one of the strings will disappear, which means that the eye is suppressing. If the person sees two beads and two strings, the eyes are not converged at the bead.

7. Barrel cards

Barrel cards is a good exercise for exotropia, which is a type of strabismus.

  1. Draw three red barrels of increasing sizes on one side of a card.
  2. Repeat in green on the other side of the card.
  3. Hold the card against the nose so that the largest barrel is farthest away.
  4. Stare at the far barrel until it becomes one image with both colors and the other two images have doubled.
  5. Maintain the gaze for about 5 seconds.
  6. Repeat the exercise with the middle and smallest images.

Can eye exercises help improve vision?

There is currently little reliable evidence to suggest that eye exercises really work to improve the eyes and vision.

One study found that eye exercises can help with convergence problems. Another study suggested that eye exercises improved visual field deficits and stereoscopic skills following brain injury.

In one 2013 study, participants who completed eye exercises were more accurate in a rapid serial visual presentation exercise than the control group. These results suggest that eye exercises may enhance cognitive performance in tasks that involve attention and memory.

The pencil pushups exercise appears to be an effective therapy for symptomatic convergence insufficiency.

Aside from these few cases, researchers have not proven that eye exercises are an effective treatment for other types of visual or intellectual conditions.

However, certain foods may benefit eye health. Read about them here.

Vision therapy

Vision therapy is like rehabilitation therapy for a person's eyes.

A doctor can prescribe vision therapy, which they will tailor to each person, to help improve visual skills and processing. Vision therapy may use both sensory- and movement-related activities.

Vision therapy typically involves a range of different tools, including computer programs, special instruments, lenses, and prisms.

Vision therapy can be useful for some of the eye conditions listed in this article.

When to see a doctor

Certain eye symptoms can indicate a more serious condition. A person should contact a doctor if they experience any of the following symptoms:

  • red eyes
  • loss of vision
  • blurred vision
  • eye pain
  • double vision
  • eyelid swelling
  • sensitivity to light
  • headaches associated with eye symptoms

Summary

There is not much scientific evidence to suggest that eye exercises help improve vision in general. However, eye exercises and vision therapy can help with digital eye strain and certain eye conditions.

A person can easily perform eye exercises such as the 20-20-20 rule, figure 8, and pencil pushups at home.

If a person experiences blurred vision, red eyes, or eye pain or has concerns about their vision, they should contact their doctor.

Original Article

Medical News Today: Unhealthful diet linked with vision loss later in life

A new study spanning nearly 2 decades has found a link between an unhealthful diet and vision loss in older age. Should we be keeping more of an eye on what we eat?

senior eating burgerShare on Pinterest
A diet rich in fats and red meat may contribute to AMD.

A robust body of research has shown that a diet rich in red meat, fried foods, high fat dairy, processed meats, and refined grains is bad for the heart and linked to the development of cancer.

However, not many people consider the impact of diet on their eyesight.

A new study, now appearing in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, has found a link between a diet rich in unhealthful foods and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is a condition that impacts the retina with age, blurring central vision. Central vision helps people see objects clearly and perform everyday activities such as reading and driving.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in the United States, around 1.8 million people aged 40 and above are living with AMD, and another 7.3 million have a condition called drusen, which usually precedes AMD.

The CDC also explain that "AMD is the leading cause of permanent impairment of reading and fine or close-up vision among people aged 65 years and older."

Now, the new study — which was the first to look at dietary patterns and the development of AMD over time — has found an association between an unhealthful diet and AMD.

Senior study author Dr. Amy Millen, of the University at Buffalo in New York, told Medical News Today, "Most people understand that diet influences cardiovascular disease risk and risk [of] obesity; however I'm not sure the public thinks about whether or not diet influences one's risk [of] vision loss later in life."

Although research has shown links between certain foods and nutrients and AMD — for example, some studies have suggested that high dose antioxidants may slow progression — there has been less research into dietary patterns as a whole.

Furthermore, studies that have looked at dietary patterns have focused on late stage risk — that is, the point at which the condition becomes vision threatening — rather than early and late stage disease.

"We wanted to examine how the overall pattern of one's diet may predict later development of AMD, both early onset and late stage disease," said Dr. Millen.

Unhealthful diet raises AMD risk by threefold

The study looked at the development of early and late AMD in participants of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities study, which looked at arterial health over 18 years (1987–1995).

Using data on 66 different food types, the researchers identified two diet patterns: one they dubbed "Prudent," or healthful, and one they dubbed "Western," which included a high intake of "processed and red meat, fried food, dessert, eggs, refined grains, high fat dairy, and sugar sweetened beverages."

Although the researchers found no link between early AMD and dietary patterns, they found that the incidence of late AMD was three times higher among those with a Western eating pattern.

"What we observed in this study was that people who had no AMD or early AMD at the start of our study, and reported frequently consuming [unhealthful] foods, were more likely to develop vision threatening, late stage disease approximately 18 years later," says Dr. Millen.

Prevention is better than cure

Early stage AMD has no symptoms, so a person may not know that have it. Also, although not everyone develops late stage AMD, for those who do, it can be costly and invasive to treat.

There are two forms of late stage AMD. One is called wet AMD, or neovascular AMD, which healthcare professionals tend to treat by injecting antivascular growth factors.

The other is called dry AMD, or geographic atrophy, which occurs when the photoreceptor cells die without neovascularization. There is no effective treatment for this form of AMD.

"We would like the public to realize that diet is important to their vision," said Millen.

"The clinical take-home message is that dietary intake likely makes a difference in determining central vision loss later in life. If a person has early onset AMD, it is in their best interest to eat foods we identified as part of the Western diet pattern in moderation."

Dr. Amy Millen

Original Article