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Eye exercises: techniques and tips

Written by Dr. Stefanenko Irina Borisovna on Fri, 11 November 2022

Key Highlights

  • Eye conditions such as impaired or dim vision, ocular motility issues, eye strain, and lazy eyes can be improved with the help of eye exercises.
  • 20-20-20 rule, focus change eye movements, pencil pushup, eye movement, figure 8, blink break, roll your eyes, and barrel card are eye exercises with good effect on your eyes.
  • Vision therapy contains balancing boards, patches, prisms, and special lenses are enhance your visual abilities, increase your comfort, and alter how your brain processes.
  • Protect your eyes from harmful radiations, reduce smoking and drinking, and eat green leafy vegetables and fruits to improve your vision and maintain eye health.
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Our eyes let us see the beauty around us. It is our responsibility to take care of our eyes and maintain our eye health. You can eat healthy food, and do some eye exercises to improve your eye health. Let us focus on exercises that help to reduce eye strain and maintain eye health.

Eye conditions

Symptoms of eye strainSome eye conditions can benefit from eye exercises. These conditions can get better with eye exercises:

  • Nystagmus is a disorder of eye movements.
  • Another problem affecting eye movement is strabismus.
  • Impair or dim vision
  • Myopia flaws in the optical field
  • Issues with bipolar eye movement
  • Ocular motility issues
  • Compliant dysfunction
  • Unable to work together to look nearly objects
  • Deficiencies in the visual field after a brain injury
  • feeling dizzy
  • Eye strain
  • Learning challenges

It's crucial to remember that the eye exercises below are unlikely to be beneficial for those who have eye diseases including retinopathy, cataracts, or glaucoma.

There is very little evidence to suggest that eye exercise can enhance vision. Eye exercises can help with eye strain, some eye conditions, and overall well-being.

Eye exercise and its benefits.

The following are some eye exercises that you can try for the condition mentioned above:

benefits of eye exercises1. The 20-20-20 rule

Most of the time, we are looking at a digital screen. While working on a computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile phone can strain the eyes. 

The 20-20-20 rule is very simple to follow while working. You need to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes in between constantly staring at a computer screen.

When following the rules, a person can take a 20-second break from the screen every 20 minutes. Try to look 20 feet away during a break, which helps eye muscles relax.

Some tips to follow this rule effectively:

  • Set an alarm as a reminder to take a break every 20 minutes while working.
  • Throughout the 20-second break, gaze out a window. Instead of judging a distance of 20 feet inside the room, try to concentrate on a nearby tree, bird, dog, or lamppost.
  • To adhere to the 20-20-20 rule, you can download an app like Eyecare or Protect Your Vision.

2. Focus change

Digital eye strain can also be relieved by the focus-change exercise. This exercise should be carried out while seated.

  • One finger should be held a few inches from the eye.
  • Keep your attention on the finger.
  • Slowly pull the finger away from your face.
  • Before returning to the finger, concentrate on something farther away.
  • Return the finger to the eye's distance.
  • Concentrate on something further away.
  • Repeat three times, please.

This exercise can relieve tension in your muscles and guard against eye strain.

3. Eye movements

Aside from reducing digital eye strain, this eye exercise improves eyesight.

  • Shut your eyes.
  • Move your eyes slowly upward and then downward.
  • Three times in a row
  • Move your eyes slowly to the left, then to the right.
  • Three times in a row

4. Figure 8

The figure 8 exercise can also lessen the strain on your digital eyes.

  • Pay attention to a spot on the floor about 8 feet away.
  • Move the eyes to form a figure-8 shape.
  • For 30 seconds, trace the fictitious number 8, then change your direction.

5. Pencil Pushup

People who have insufficient convergence can benefit from pencil pushups. This exercise may be suggested by a physician as a component of vision therapy.

  • Place a pencil between your eyes at arm's length.
  • Try maintaining a single mental image of the pencil as you move it slowly toward your nose.
  • Once the pencil is no longer a single image, move it toward the nose.
  • Place the pencil where the closest portion of the image is still one.
  • Repeat 20 times.

6. Brock String

Brock String Exercise: This exercise helps with eye coordination.

  • An individual will require a long string and some colored beads to finish this exercise. They can perform this exercise while seated or standing.
  • Attach the string's one end to a stationary object or have someone else hold it.
  • Just below the nose, hold the other end of the string.
  • One bead should be strung up.
  • Both eyes should be open and face the bead directly.
  • A person should be able to see the bead and two strings arranged in the form of an X if their eyes are functioning properly.
  • One of the strings will vanish if one eye is closed, signaling that the eye is suppressed. If the person sees two beads and two strings, the eyes do not converge at the bead.

7. Palms for Relaxation

For about 30 to 40 seconds, rub your palms together and gently cup your palms over your eyes until the afterimages fade to black. Make sure you are not putting any pressure on your eyes.

You can do this exercise anywhere and at any time. 

8. Blink Break

Did you realize that you blink less when you are constantly looking at a computer or TV screen? Pay attention to your eyes while you are working. Start noticing dry eyes or the beginning of a headache. They are symptoms of eye strain.

So don't engross much at work and take a break. blink appropriately at a normal rate.

9. Near and Far

For those who wear glasses, this is advantageous.

  • Remove them and place one thumb close to your face and one thumb farther away in the air.
  • Focus on the close thumb for 2 seconds, followed by the distant thumb, an object across the room, and an object even further away, like a building across the street.
  • By looking near and far, you give your eyes good movement exercise.

10. Roll your eyes

Do you remember your not-so-good friend? How is she rolling her eyes at you? At that time, you do not feel good. But do you ever think that rolling your eyes helps you relax? 

Now try this

  • Without moving your head, take several glances to the right and left. 
  • Then take several glances both up and down.

11. Barrel Cards

A good exercise for exotropia, a form of strabismus, is playing barrel cards.

  • On one side of a card, draw three red barrels of increasing size.
  • On the opposite side of the card, repeat in green.
  • Place the card so that the largest barrel is furthest away from your nose.
  • Look at the distant barrel until the two colors merge into one image, and the other two images have multiplied.
  • For about five seconds, hold your gaze.

The middle and smallest images should be used for the exercise again.

Can eye exercises help improve vision?

Yes, some evidence-based studies suggest eye exercises work to improve eye vision.

One study found that eye exercise can improve visual deficits following brain injury. Another study suggests that eye exercise may help in rapid serial visual presentation and enhance cognitive performance like attention and memory.

Pencil pushup exercise appears to be an effective therapy for symptomatic convergence insufficiency.

Eye exercises help maintain and improve healthy eye care.

Vision therapy

Vision treatment may include eye exercises. Consider it to be eye physical therapy.

Your optometrist could suggest a vision therapy program to enhance your visual abilities, increase your comfort, and alter how your brain processes what you see. Additionally, the program might contain balancing boards, patches, prisms, and special lenses.

For instance, if your child has lazy eyes or vision loss in one eye as a result of using the other eye more often, they may benefit from vision therapy. The disease typically manifests in childhood. Your child might get glasses first.

The doctor would then cover their healthy eye with a patch or blur it with eye drops so they must rely more on their sluggish eye. Exercises can also make your child's brain use the weaker eye to see, which aids in the recovery of eyesight.

Tips for eye health

Tips for good eye healthBeyond eye exercises, there are some simple tips that you can follow in daily life to keep your eyes healthy.

  • Protect your eyes from ultraviolet light by wearing sunglasses.
  • If you are working on the computer for a longer period. Use computer glasses to protect your eyes from harm full blue rays comes from the computer. 
  • Drink lots of water to keep your eyes lubricated.
  • Include green leafy vegetables and fruits, such as kale, spinach, orange, and carrots.
  • Get regular eye checkups. It is helpful for the early detection of any eye issues like cataracts and glaucoma. Doctors suggest that after 60 years you should do an eye checkup every year.
  • Stop smoking and drinking alcohol. 

Conclusion

Our eyes let us see this amazing world and beautiful people. Taking care of our eyes is a necessity to live a healthy life. You need to understand eye conditions to be motivated for eye exercises.

20-20-20 rule, eye movement, pencil pushup, focus change, rolling eyes, Brock String, and blink break are some of the effective eye exercises that help to relax eye muscles, relieve eye strain, red eyes, watery eyes, and headaches.

Include exercise eyes in your regular workout session and see the results by yourself. Talk to your doctor for more information about eye care exercises and their benefits.

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Dr. Stefanenko Irina Borisovna

Dr. Stefanenko Irina Borisovna Is a medical doctor based out of Ukraine. Dr. Borisovna graduated from the Vinnitsa State Medical University, in 1995. In between 1995-2000, Dr. Borisovna went on to further pursue her post graduation studying scientific activity from the Vinnytsa Medical University in Ukraine.

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  1. Kim AD, et al. Contact Lens and Anterior Eye. 2021 Jun 1;44(3):101329.
  2. Eye exercises, available at Medicalnewstoday
  3. Does the 20-20-20 rule prevent eye strain? Available at Medicalnewstoday
  4. The low down in eye exercises, available at Health Harvard