Myopia is one of the most common eye problems faced by people across the world. And although genetics and age play a part in myopia progression, environmental factors also play a major role in the development of myopia.
Eye exercises – how do they help?
Myopia can be treated by means of corrective glasses, contact lenses and LASIK surgery.
However, while some people think that eye exercises are the ‘natural’ method of treatment and can cure myopia, there is not much credible research to support this. Myopia or nearsightedness is caused when the shape of your eyes are elongated, in turn causing light rays to not properly focus onto your retina. As simple eye exercises cannot alter the basic shape of your eyes, it cannot be credited with the ability to cure myopia.
Moreover, proponents of the notion that eye exercises reduce myopia often highlight the fact that such exercises are prescribed in Vision Therapy to tackle myopia. In essence, Vision Therapy is a series of treatments, which include eye exercises, with the objective of correcting specific eye problems in children and some adults. However, vision therapy itself is a widely debated topic, especially between ophthalmologists (medical doctors) and ODs (optometrists). Most ophthalmologists regard the practice of vision therapy as baseless, as there is no substantial research that proves its effectiveness. Hence, as vision therapy and eye exercises are not scientifically supported, they should not be regarded as a one-stop cure for myopia.
However, while eye exercises are not proven to cure myopia, they do help people with weakened eye muscles or eye strain from staring at smart devices for too long. Hence, for people with lifestyles that require long hours in front of the computer, eye exercises can help relieve some of the eye fatigue, eye dryness, and irritation, neck, back, shoulder pain due to poor posture, and eye strain they may be experiencing.
Tips and tricks to alleviate the pain
There are certain measures you can take to prevent the aforementioned afflictions from giving you discomfort throughout the day.
- Blinking. As simple as it sounds, the benefits to blinking are often underestimated. This is especially considering how little we blink when we are glued to our screens throughout the day. Studies have shown that we actually blink much less (sometimes even about ⅓ as often) when we use the computer! Less blinking causes dry and irritated eyes as tears tend to evaporate faster when we do not blink. A simple solution to this would be to take an eye break every 15 minutes or so, to focus on blinking more frequently.
- Proper lighting. Working on your computer in a room with harsh lighting can cause eye strain and fatigue. A simple way to tackle this problem is to substitute bright fluorescent lights with floor lamps. If the natural light pouring in through your windows into your workspace is too bright, close your blinds so that your eyes do not feel strained.
- Minimising the glare from your computer screens and spectacles. As with harsh lighting, the glare from your devices can also cause eye strain. Minimise the glare from your computer screens by installing an anti-glare screen. If you wear glasses, you can consider buying those with anti-reflective (AR) coating.
- Eye exercises. When we stare at our digital devices for too long, our eyes can get strained and fatigued. It is important to look away from our screens and take a digital break. A simple rule of thumb to follow is the 20-20-20 rule: Take a break from your devices every 20 seconds, and look at an object that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds. There are many other eye exercises you can do throughout the day that help relax your eye muscles. The bottom-line is, it is important to take a break from time to time to ensure that your eyes remain healthy and strong.
How effective are eye exercises for Myopia?
In essence, eye exercises are not scientifically proven to cure or even reduce myopia. However, they can help alleviate eye fatigue and strain, as well as body aches caused by staring at our screens for too long. In the long run, taking good care of your eyes does not only help in ensuring you are alert throughout the day, but it can also contribute to your overall health. So remember, treating these precious organs right today goes a long way in the future!