It’s winter vacation time for us here at the #endmyopia project, but I manage to check on the forum after a bit of skiing. Bruno posted a question about the benefit of eye relaxation exercises. It’s a question that comes up frequently, and there is a larger issue here that you should also be aware of:
Ciliary muscle relaxation exercises can create temporary vision improvement.
The ‘temporary’ part is key, here. There are a number of vision programs that deceive participants into believing that they actually work. I am not suggesting malice here, often it is just that the program creators do not actually understand the physiology of the eye. Let’s take a quick look at what happens when you do eye relaxation exercises. Key distinction, the concept of exercise when we talk about focal plane work (actual rehab exercise) vs. exercises that involve any of the following:
– Covering eyes for x-minutes with your hands
– Closed eyes, ‘gazing’ at the sky / sun / sunrise / sunset / magic pony’s.
– Blinking, squinting, defocusing.
– Me, rolling my eyes while reading their sales pitch.
If you want to have a look, search Google Images for ‘eye exercises’:
I suspect that most who venture into the territory of images shown above, are genuinely searching for an alternative to glasses.
If you look at those image results with a critical perspective though, you realize that you have to take some serious suspension-of-disbelief to give much of it any credence. Swirling lines? Eye yoga? Sun gazing? I know that you know that this really takes a leap of faith to consider seriously (and you are not, hopefully).
For similar effectiveness, you might replace the search term ‘eye exercises’ with the term ‘facepalm’, which is the functional equivalent term:
Jokes aside, there is nothing wrong with eye relaxation exercises. Their efficacy is just limited to temporary relief.
There are hundreds of variations of this theme, and indeed,they will give you a moment of perceived vision improvement. If you have been following my program for a while, you probably already know the reason:
Our day to day routine creates a lot of strain on the focusing muscle of your eye (the ciliary muscle). You spend hours with that muscle flexed very tightly, to give you clear vision for images up-close (like working on the computer). As with any sort of muscle strain, if you give it a chance to relax, it will perform better afterwards. For a moment. But relaxing any muscle for a minute (or five) will not suddenly make it stronger, healthier, or any different, really – it just had a chance to relax. Relaxation exercises also do nothing at all for axial myopia (see FAQ), which most likely is what is causing your vision deficiency.
Those exercises are good for one thing – if you can see better after covering your eyes with your hands for two minutes, then you know you should be taking more break from up-close focus in the first place. Any break = same result as the exercise routines.
Another way to think of this is to compare it to any sort of physical rehab. You broke your shoulder, it was in a cast for some extended period, and now you need to work on it for it to regain proper strength and range of motion. Will ‘relaxing’ shoulder muscles provide those results? Of course not. They will make you feel better after exercise, but if you are looking for an actual improvement, relaxation will leave you disappointed.
How To Actually Improve Your Eyesight
1. Catch the problem early. Instead of trying relaxation techniques after too much strain, take more breaks. Don’t look at that computer screen for more than 30-45 minutes at a time (it is really, really bad for your eyesight). Take a break after that half hour, go look at something in the distance, Get up, move around.
Your ciliary muscle does not express pain the way your leg muscle would, if you strain it a lot. It just quietly starts compensating for the strain (by making you myopic, ouch). Just because it doesn’t hurt, doesn’t mean it’s ok to ignore it. Take breaks!
2. Realize that if you wear glasses, you are well beyond a point where ‘relaxation’ is going to reverse physiological changes. You will need to take a critical look at your prescription strength, and find a program that works with actual focal stimulus. Myopia is the result of years of neglect of your vision health. If you want it back, you will have to work for it. There are no chimbing bells and misty mountains short cuts for this.
3. Take charge. Sign up for a few months of my program, see if all this Alex talk actually amounts to anything. Once you actually have in hand your first ever lower prescription lens, send me a thank-you e-mail. And … post in the forum, so others realize that this is a valid way to take control of your eyesight.
That’s it. By all means, do eye relaxation exercises. No harm in it. Just do it knowing the limitations of what they can accomplish.
And with that, good luck!