Pay attention to how your eyes feel. In other articles, I shared information about relaxing your eyes and knowing when you are straining them. Definitely, staring is one of the worst things you can do to your eyes. Also, straining and fixating at a set distance can cause damage. Think about what you do at work. Are you staring for hours at a computer? Reading numbers either on a computer display or in a printed report? Think about how your eyes feel at the end of a workday. Are they tired? Do you have the urge to rub them? If these symptoms describe your experience, learn the following three exercises that will help you relax your vision and rest your eye:
1. Dot Exercise: This is a classic Bates Method exercise. Look at a written page or sign on the wall. I find it helpful to do this on a bus or subway at the end of work. Find a punctuation mark on the page (a comma, period, dot, or quotation mark) and focus on making it as clear as you can. Stare at the dot and focus, focus, focus. Like most people, you may be successful at first but in a few seconds, the period will begin to blur.
Now relax your eyes. How? Close your eyelids for a minute and feel the muscles around your lids and eyeballs lose tension. Open your eyes again. Look at the same dot or mark you focused on before but do not try to bring it into focus by staring or concentrating. Instead, just let your eyes move around the page slowly; slide your look over and around the mark you selected to focus on earlier. Always remember, your eyes prefer to be moving. Keep blinking as you normally would. Now close your eyes and get an image of the dot and then open your eyes to look at it again. Once your eyes are relaxed, you will notice that it is easier to see the dot clearly.
2. Word Exercise: Again, you can do this exercise on the bus or subway or even in a book you are reading. Locate a word that has five or more letters. Stare at the word so that all the letters can be seen, but again, do not allow your eyes to move. Focus on the entire word and attempt to create a strong picture of the word in your mind. Again, you will notice the word beginning to blur as time passes and you keep staring at it.
Then, relax your eyes. It is okay to close them. Open your eyes and let them “float” slowly over each letter in the word. Blink. Let your eyes take the lead: do not force them to look at one specific thing. When you return your gentle gaze to the word, it should be clearer. Essentially, you are letting your eyes move freely which relieves stress and encourages better vision.
3. Lazy Eights: I found this exercise at eHow.com in T.S. Jordan’s section entitled Brain Gym Activities and Exercises. Here are the instructions:
Perform the lazy eight eye exercise to help awaken your brain’s functionality and improve your concentration level for reading. Stand or sit facing a wall, staring at a point which is roughly at eye level. Initiate the movement by tracing an imaginary figure eight on the wall with your eyes, following its path for one full lap then returning to focus on your chosen center point. Continue the movement by drawing the same figure eight in reverse. You can move your head a bit while following the curve of the figure eight, but strive to keep the muscles of your neck relaxed throughout. Repeat this for 10 “laps” in each direction.
These are simple exercises that you can do anywhere that you can sit for a few minutes without interruption (not when you’re driving, please!). Knowing these exercises will help you “teach” your eyes how to see and protect your vision as you age.
To read about additional resources to improve your vision without eyeglasses, check out the Two Smart Chicks website ( http://www.twosmartchicks.com ) in the Vision category.