Many people believe that eye exercises can help improve vision or treat eye conditions. Although there is limited evidence to suggest that eye exercises can improve vision, eye exercises can help with eyestrain, certain eye conditions, and general well-being. Eye exercises can be particularly helpful for people experiencing digital eyestrain, which is related to prolonged computer use.
Eye exercises and their possible benefits
Eye exercises can be helpful for the following conditions:
- Nystagmus, which is an eye movement condition
- Strabismus, which is also an eye movement condition
- Visual field defects
- Vergence problems
- Ocular motility conditions
- Accommodative dysfunction
- Convergence insufficiency
- Visual field deficit after brain injury
- Motion sickness
- Learning difficulties
It is important to note that people with eye conditions such as retinopathy, cataracts, or glaucoma are unlikely to benefit from trying the following eye exercises. The following are seven eye exercises that people may want to try for the conditions mentioned above:
1. The 20-20-20 rule
Digital eyestrain can become a problem for people who need to focus on a computer screen all day while working.
The 20-20-20 rule helps alleviate digital eyestrain. The rule of thumb is easy: a person needs to look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes while working on a computer.
2. Focus shift
The focus shift exercise can also help with digital eyestrain. People should perform this exercise while seated.
- Keep a finger a few inches from one eye.
- Focus your gaze on the finger.
- Move your finger slowly away from the face.
- Focus on a further object, and then again on the finger.
- Bring your finger close to your eye.
- Focus on a further object.
- Repeat three times.
3. Eye movements
This eye movement exercise also helps with digital eyestrain.
- Close your eyes.
- Slowly roll your eyes up, then down.
- Repeat three times.
- Slowly move your eyes to the left and then to the right.
- Repeat three times.
4. Figure 8
The exercise in figure 8 can also help relieve digital eyestrain.
- Focus on an area of the floor about 8 feet away.
- Roll your eyes in the shape of a figure 8.
- Trace the imaginary figure 8 for 30 seconds, then change direction.
5. Pencil push-ups
Pencil push-ups can help people with convergence insufficiency. A doctor may recommend this exercise as part of vision therapy.
- Hold a pencil with your arm extended, located between your eyes.
- Look at the pencil and try to keep a single image while slowly moving it towards your nose.
- Move the pencil towards the nose until the pencil is no longer a single image.
- Place the pencil at the closest point where it is still a single image.
Repeat 20 times.
6. Brock’s rope
The Brock rope exercise helps improve eye coordination. To complete this exercise, a person will need a long rope and some colored beads. They can complete this exercise sitting or standing.
- Secure one end of the rope to a stationary object, or another person can hold it.
- Hold the other end of the string just below your nose.
- Place a bead on the string.
- Look directly at the bill with both eyes open.
- If the eyes are working properly, a person should see the bead and two X-shaped strings.
- If one eye is closed, one of the strings will disappear, which means that the eye is suppressing. If the person sees two beads and two strings, the eyes do not converge on the bead.
7. Keg cards
Barrel cards are a good exercise for exotropia, which is a type of squint.
- Draw three red barrels of increasing sizes on one side of a letter.
- Repeat in green on the other side of the card.
- Hold the card against your nose so that the larger barrel is further away.
- Watch the far barrel until it becomes an image with both colors and the other two images have been duplicated.
- Hold your gaze for about 5 seconds.
- Repeat the exercise with the medium and smaller images.
Can eye exercises help improve vision?
There is currently little reliable evidence to suggest that eye exercises actually work to improve eyes and vision. One study found that eye exercises can help with convergence problems. Another study suggested that eye exercises improved visual field deficits and stereoscopic skills after brain injury.
In one study, participants who completed eye exercises were more accurate in a quick serial display exercise than the control group. These results suggest that eye exercises can improve cognitive performance in tasks involving attention and memory.