Working on the computer and reading are activities that involve near vision. The life we lead requires more and more actions of this kind that cause eyestrain that is reflected in tired, dry, itchy, red eyes that struggle to focus on objects at different distances and blurred vision (Kim et al, J Phys The Sci, 2016). However, thanks to targeted exercises also associated with yoga breathing techniques, such as pranayamas, it is possible to obtain benefits by relaxing the eyesight and putting the eyes in the best conditions to work (Gupta et al, Int J Yoga, 2020). Not only that, performing eye exercises has also allowed, as reported by a scientific study, to improve visual acuity in adolescents with myopia (Samia et al, Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research, 2013). So let's see some examples of eye exercises that have proven effective for eye health.
Several scientific studies have analyzed the effects of eye exercises on vision. Although performed on different population samples, all studies agreed on the type of eye exercises that may be most beneficial to eye health. Palming should never be missing. Palming is done by sitting down and rubbing your hands together. Cup your eyes with your warm hands, intertwining the fingers so as not to let the light filter. Then you can imagine moving scenes like a wheat field swaying in the wind. Palming is considered an exercise capable of relaxing and revitalizing the eye muscles and stimulating the circulation of the aqueous humor, the liquid that flows between the cornea and the lens and allows the passage of light from the outside to the retina (Kim et al, J Phys The Sci, 2016). After palming, it is generally required to perform movements with the eyes from right to left, from top to bottom in order to counteract the fixity of the eyes that instead characterizes activities such as reading or computer work. This also allows you to relax the eye muscles that participate in the accommodation of the eye over different distances. Then, circular movements are performed with the eyes, which help restore balance between the eye muscles and also improve coordination between the eyes. Finally, the right arm bends so that the index finger is a short distance from the nose while the left arm extends. The gaze goes from the index finger of the right hand to the index finger of the left hand to improve the accommodation of sight (Kim et al, J Phys The Sci, 2016).
Here is an exercise that is so simple but also so beneficial. A fatigued eye tends to blink less frequently than a healthy eye, thus leading to alterations in the eye's hydration status. One study observed that blinking for ten seconds every twenty minutes during the day for 4 weeks benefited vision by counteracting symptoms related to dry eye (Kim et al, Cont Lens Anterior Eye, 2020). In fact, blinking as an exercise helps this same action become spontaneous.
Pranayama for eyesight
The palming and focusing exercises seen in the first paragraph can be practiced simultaneously with the pranayamas such as Kapalbhati pranayama or breath of healing. This breathing technique consists in inhaling deeply through the nose and then exhaling, again through the nose, contracting the abdominal muscles. The next inhalation occurs spontaneously, simply letting the abdominal muscles, previously contracted, expand. Kapalbhati is a purification technique, also capable of stimulating the activity of the brain and promoting oxygenation of the blood, which is reflected in a better nourishment of all parts of the body including the eyes and connected nerves (Saoji et al, J Ayurveda Integr Med, 2019). In fact, it has been observed that associating eye exercises with Kapalbhati pranayama is able to effectively counteract dry eye but also to revitalize the mind by improving response times to a visual stimulus (Gosewade et al, J Clin Diagn Res, 2013).
Tired eyes and tired eyesight are connected to a more fixed gaze but also to stiffness in the neck and spine. That is why it is important to keep the body flexible with targeted exercises. One of these exercises was included in the program followed by adolescents with myopia and which led to improvements in visual acuity. The exercise consisted of sitting down on a chair and looking at an object placed in front of the person at a distance of two meters. Then it was required to turn the whole body to the right and then to the left while keeping the eyes on the object in order to counteract the visual fixity (Samia et al, Middle-East Journal of Scientific Research, 2013). Another exercise consists in the elephant swing (Markert, Seeing well without glasses). You stand with your legs apart. The body is turned to the left, lifting the right heel and then to the right by lifting the left heel. The arms are soft and follow the movement and the eyes are not focused on anything in particular.