Eye Exercises to Reduce Presbyopia
As people age, the lenses of their eyes lose flexibility. This condition is called presbyopia, and it makes close-up objects appear blurry. While some books, DVDs and websites may promise to teach you eye exercises that will reverse or reduce the effects of presbyopia and eliminate the need for glasses, these claims of effectiveness aren't supported by scientific evidence.
Since presbyopia is a refractive error, which is caused by an irregularity in the shape of your eye -- in this case, the lens -- it's unlikely that any form of exercise will alter your eye's shape to cure the problem, according to the All About Vision website. The efficacy of these exercises for presbyopia haven't been tested through rigorous clinical trials, reports the Harvard Medical School Family Health Guide. In a fraud lawsuit filed by the Iowa Attorney General against the creators of the See Clearly Method in 2006, the company was charged with making false claims about the effectiveness of their eye exercises, some of which caused headaches in practitioners.
The lens refracts light and helps your eye to focus on objects at different distances. When looking at something close up, the muscle surrounding the lens constricts, and when looking at a far-off object, the muscle relaxes. Starting at about age 40, the eye lenses stiffen, making it more difficult to focus on near objects. Presbyopia is most noticeable when reading, and you may find that you need to hold a book away from your body in order to see the words clearly. Presbyopia is a natural result of aging and affects nearly everyone to some degree, according to MayoClinic.com 1.
Most people with presbyopia need corrective lenses, and an eye exam will determine the correct prescription strength. If you have no other vision issues, basic reading glasses may suffice, but if you also suffer from nearsightedness, bifocals may be necessary. Surgical procedures to correct presbyopia involve reshaping the cornea or implanting synthetic lenses.
According to the See Clearly Method touted by the American Vision Institute, one exercise that purportedly reduces presbyopia involves crossing your eyes and focusing on the tip of your nose, then looking at a far-off object and focusing on it. This process is repeated in time with your breathing, looking at your nose as you inhale and the far-off object as you exhale. In another exercise, you hold reading material about 3 inches from your face and upside-down and try to "run your gaze around" each letter in a word. Other alleged presbyopia eye exercises ask you to place washcloths dipped in hot and cold water on your eyes, alternating every 30 seconds, or to sit approximately 6 inches away from a 150-watt light bulb with your eyes closed.
- MayoClinic.com: Presbyopia
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- All About Vision: Eye Exercises -- Do They Really Improve Vision?
- Harvard Medical School: Harvard Health Publishing. Presbyopia: What is it? Published February 2020.
- Balgos MJTD, Vargas V, Alió JL. Correction of presbyopia: An integrated update for the practical surgeon. Taiwan J Ophthalmol. 2018;8(3):121-140. doi:10.4103/tjo.tjo_53_18
- Cleveland Clinic. Presbyopia. Updated June 8, 2020.
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