Eye Exercises to Reduce Myopia

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For decades, eye-care practitioners have promoted eye exercises as a way to reduce myopia. However, after careful study and evaluation, officials at the American Academy of Ophthalmology reported in 2004 there was no evidence that do-it-yourself eye exercises such as the Bates method or other eye movement routines had any effect on reducing myopia.

Visual Training Exercises

You may already be aware that there are legitimate forms of visual training, such as exercises designed to enhance sports vision, or exercises that help to focus eyes that cannot converge on objects. These eye exercises do benefit eyes, as well as the vision training people suffering from brain injuries undergo to learn how to reconnect brain and eyes again.

However, if you are nearsighted, there are no eye exercises that will enable your eyes to see better. Neither are there eye exercises that will prevent your myopic condition from worsening.

If you have exercised your eyes and they do seem to have gotten better, the American Academy of Ophthalmology reports that improvement in visual acuity after visual training is not due to some physiological change for the better. The improvement is rather due to learning how to interpret blurred images, to mood changes or to the modifications tearing temporarily works upon the eye, creating an artificial contact lens.

Eye Movement Routines

Popular eye movement routines such as rotating the eyes in a circle or focusing on moving objects are promoted for financial gain or even offered free of charge with the claim that they can reduce the need for glasses in myopic individuals. One of these exercises is focusing on blinking lights and another, eye-hand coordination drills.

Scientists dispute these claims. "The New York Times" in 2009 reported that research corroborated 43 studies done prior to 2005 in concluding that claims that eye exercises reduce myopia are baseless. Only problems of focus, double vision and eye convergence problems are helped by such exercises.

If you are nearsighted, only your ophthalmologist can help you. Rely on his advice, for ophthalmologists are licensed physicians who specialize in eye disorders.

Bates Exercises

Most eye exercises for myopia are derived from exercises developed by William Bates, M.D., at the beginning of the 20th century. His alternative therapy for myopia, based on his conviction that the mind played a large part in causing or improving nearsightedness, is called the Bates method.

One Bates exercise is palming, which relaxes the eyes by shutting out all light. This is achieved by placing the palms of the hands against the cheekbones. Another exercise is sunning, or turning closed eyes toward the sun’s light while rocking the head back and forth.

A third Bates exercise is called swinging, or gently swaying the body back and forth while focusing the eyes on a finger held in front of the face. Simple blinking is the fourth exercise.

The Bates method is not recognized or approved by ophthalmologists, the only licensed physicians specializing in eye disorders. Richard E. Bensinger, M.D., an ophthalmologist at the Swedish Medical Center, in Seattle, and clinical correspondent for the American Academy of Ophthalmology, points out that the Bates method is based on an anatomical fallacy which affirms that external muscles control the eye’s focus. In reality, the eye has its own internal mechanism for focusing.

This is why, if you are myopic, eye exercises will not improve your vision.