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A Guide To Eye Exercises: How To Reduce And Ease Eye Strain

Oct 4, 2021

What is eye yoga?

While it might sound a bit of a stretch (pun intended), it is becoming increasingly popular across social media and online health forums. Eye yoga specifically doesn’t have much scientific backing, but in reality it is simply eye exercise, which can play a significant role in keeping your eyes healthy. We should note that exercise will not cure or prevent conditions such as astigmatism or your prescription clarity – instead focussing on overall eye health and comfort.

So, edgy yogi terms aside, below are some eye exercises that you can easily work into your daily routine to help reduce and alleviate eye strain and the uncomfortable symptoms that come with it…

What are eye exercises?

Hands up – who uses a screen all day? Then this one is definitely for you – and likely affects most of us. Whether working all day, keeping constant tabs on your socials, or gaming all night, tablets and computer screens have proven to be less than favourable on our eye health, with blue light emissions and glare causing eye strain, dryness, headaches and more.

What is the 20:20:20 rule?

To relax the eyes, the 20:20:20 rule advocates a small break every 20 minutes to focus your eyes on something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. This minor habitual measure in your daily routine will help to prevent digital eye strain and headaches with an almost immediate sense of relief when you do it.

What is the jump convergence eye test?

Like any muscle, it is beneficial to build and maintain strength in your eyes. Tricky when you can’t lift a weight or strengthen in the traditional sense. Jump convergence is the eyecare equivalent for strength training. Aimed at helping to control and strengthen your gaze when looking between near and far objects and distances, this is another quick and easy activity to work into your day.

Here’s how:
You will first need a fixation point in the distance, about 3 to 4 metres away, and a close up point (try holding a pen at arm’s length):

  • First, hold out your pen, then look past it to focus your gaze on your fixation point in the distance.
  • Quickly ‘jump’ your focus onto the pen. The pen must appear in clear focus. If the pen is blurry, pull your eyes in to focus your gaze as you would to thread a needle, for example.
  • When you have clear focus on the pen, quickly look back to your distance fixation point. Continue switching like this from close to distance until both images maintain focus every time you change.
  • As this becomes easier, keeping moving your pen slightly closer to your nose and repeat the exercise, ‘jumping’ from close to distance and focusing your gaze each time.
  • Keep doing the exercise until the pen is almost touching your nose.

What is the focus shift eye exercise?

Another one that helps eye muscle strength while keeping your focus tip-top is focus shifting, which does exactly as the name suggests:

Firstly, stretch your left hand out as far as it will go straight out in front of you and put your thumb up (as if to give a thumbs up!)

  • Focussing on your thumb, sit up and look straight ahead
  • Crossing over you with your eyes always focussed on your thumb, move your arm slowly to your right as far as you can.
  • Come back across to the left again, following your thumb as far as your eye will go. You must do this using your eyes only, don’t move your neck or chin.
  • Repeat this movement several times to stretch the muscles left and right.

What is eye-rolling exercise?

Careful who you do this around – you don’t want to come across as being rude! But, seriously, this is a great one for eye strain, think of it as rolling your shoulders or ankles when sitting for too long.

Eye rolling is simple and isn’t dissimilar to what the optician will ask you to do in an appointment when they need to get a good look inside your eye:

  • Sit up straight and take a deep breath on each direction change.
  • Slowly, look up to the ceiling and focus your gaze above.
  • Roll both of your eyes to look to your right.
  • Then roll both of your eyes to look all the way down.
  • Roll your eyes to look all the way to your left.
  • Finally coming back to look at the ceiling. On completion look straight ahead and take another deep breath.
  • Repeat this several times going clockwise and anticlockwise for a lovely deep eye stretch!

What is eye palming?

Palming eye exercises have multiple benefits – helping to prevent eye strain and also as a stress-relieving, calming technique. When working for long hours at a computer or rushing around in daily life, it is good to practice re-centering techniques to help you focus and level out.

Palming can be done anywhere, anytime by:

  • Warming your hands by rubbing them together.
  • Then, placing both hands over your eyes and resting your fingertips on your forehead. Your palms should be slightly cupped away from your face, with your palms resting on or around your cheekbones so they don’t touch your eyes.
  • Clearing your mind and breathing in slowly, look into the darkness of your hands, concentrating on that only.
  • Do this for several minutes, taking deep breaths in and out to create a restful, calming effect.

What are eye relaxation exercises?

As with any exercise, include a warm down for your eyes after exercise. Give them a minute to rest after a focussing session by simply closing your eyes and allowing them to sit still. Looking into the distance (with your prescription on if required) is also a good way to relax the eyes again after any focusing and strengthening work.

And, while this sounds like it’s for the privileged few, relaxation away from the screens and stresses that we put our eyes through is as important as any exercise. If you are tired or unwell, then rest is the only measure you should take for your eye health. In the same way, you shouldn’t exercise with a chest infection, for example. And, good sleep is vital to our overall health and is especially critical for eye and brain health, giving much needed time for recuperation from a day of constant use and strain – good rest should never be underrated.

Practicing eye exercises is a quick and easy way to help maintain good eye health now, and in the future. As mentioned previously, exercises are not preventative for eye conditions. If you have any concerns about your eyes, always check with your optician or doctor to rule out any underlying conditions that need treatment.

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