Poor vision is a common condition that most of us take lightly because it can usually be corrected by glasses or contacts. Aging nearly always brings on poor vision and we have come to accept it as part of old age. However, Dr. Ben Kim, my favorite Korean doctor, says in his newsletter, “Contrary to popular belief, your vision doesn’t have to decline over time.”
We are well aware that we need to exercise if we want to have good health and that without exercise, muscles get weak. But do you know that the eyes have six muscles that control eye movement? How many of you exercise your eyes? Dr. Kim writes, “With regular exercise of the muscles that control your eye movements and visual acuity, you can reduce eyestrain and maintain or even improve your vision.”
In his newsletter, Kim gives the following exercises that are actually used by some professional baseball players to optimize their vision, which is essential for the hand-eye coordination needed to play baseball. You have to be able to see the ball! I learned these exercises about thirty years ago when I first attended the Ann Wigmore program of health rejuvenation in Coldwater Michigan. They can be done any time and any place with little effort, especially when you think of the possible benefits to your all important vision. 1. Look as far to the right as possible for 3-5 seconds, then as far to your left as possible for 3-5 seconds. Rest a few seconds, and then repeat this sequence several times. 2. Look as far up as possible for 3-5 seconds and then as far down as possible for 3-5 seconds. Rest for a few seconds, and then repeat this sequence several times. 3. Slowly roll your eyes in a circle, first clockwise, then counter-clockwise. Rest for a few seconds,, and then repeat this sequence several times. Be sure to roll slowly-it should take at least 3 seconds for you to roll your eyes in a full circle. 4. Hold a pen in front of you, about arm’s length away. Focus your vision on the tip of the pen for 3-5 seconds; then shift your vision to an object that is further away for 3-5 seconds. The greater the distance between your pen and the far-away object, the better. If you are indoors, look out a window to find a distant object to focus your vision on. Repeat this sequence of going back and forth between your pen and distant object several times.
“Palming” is another exercise to improve vision that I also learned in Michigan. It is done by closing your eyes and covering them with the palms of your hands crossing your fingers on your forehead. The idea is to block all light from your eyes. Put no pressure on your eyes and hold your hands lightly, just close enough to block out the light. You need to relax and think of pleasant things when palming and some even suggest that you do facial and shoulder massage. Immediately before palming, rub your palms together to generate heat. Palming is very relaxing for the eyes and helps relieve eyestrain.
Page 2 of 2 - A few years ago, I was unable to sleep and flipped on the TV to an infomercial promoting some kind of supplement for the eyes. I picked up a valuable bit of information. The guy explained that we have a little hole in the middle of our eye which gets larger when we are in a darkened room and smaller when we are in the bright sunlight. If we stay inside all the time except at night, then the muscles that open and close that little hole become weak, resulting in an inability to adjust to changes in light.
I combined what I had learned about palming with this information and developed my own eye exercise. I like to lie on a blanket on a sunny day and, with my eyes closed, I palm my eyes until they are in complete blackness. Then, KEEPING MY EYES CLOSED, I remove my hands and look up at the sun. It is very important to keep your eyes closed because the sun can damage open eyes when you look up at it. Gradually, the blackness will turn gray and then it will be bright even through closed eyelids. Then I palm again and repeat the process several times. This exercises the muscles around that hole in which light comes through the eyes. I don’t know if this is why, but at age 78, I am able to see to drive at night with no problem. When I do this faithfully, I can actually tell my vision has improved within a few days.
You can also do the eye exercises while palming with your eyelids closed.
Online you can find information on eye exercises, palming and videos showing exactly how it is done. Just type what you want into yahoo or google search engines and you will be amazed at what you can do for your vision. Some have even been able to throw away their glasses.
(Janice Norris lives in Heber Springs, has a B.S. in home economics from Murray State University, owned and operated health food stores in Illinois and Heber Springs, and wrote a weekly column in Illinois for 15 years. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)