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exercise eyes

Can you exercise your eyes?

Look left, only with your eyes. Do not turn your head. Now, keep your gaze as far left as possible. Eyes to the centre. Relax. Now, look right and repeat the exercise.

That was an eye exercise, and doctors, teachers and other eye experts have promoted the benefits of eye exercises for years. Perceived benefits of doing these exercises range from faster reading and better eyesight; but do they really work?


There is very little scientific evidence backing the idea that eye exercises can improve vision. However, exercising the muscles behind the eye can definitely ease eye strain. If you have a common eye condition, like myopia (near-sightedness), hyperopia (far-sightedness), or astigmatism, you probably won’t benefit from eye exercises, Healthline explains. People with the most common eye diseases, including age-related macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma, will also see little benefit from eye exercises. However, most of us have professions that either entail looking at a computer screen for long periods of time; or we spend extended hours looking at our phone screen. Both of these activities can be exhausting for the eyes. This is known as ‘digital eye strain’.

The history behind eye exercises

Eye exercises come from theories by ophthalmologist William Horatio Bates, MD. In 1920, Bates created a program of eye exercises that became known as the Bates Method. Although many of his teachings have been debunked as potentially harmful and useless. These teachings include “sunning” (exposing the eyes to direct sunlight) and “palming” (covering the closed eyes with the palms of the hands).

In essence, tests in recent years have shown that eye exercises cannot improve vision, as issues with vision lay in the actual structure of each eye, and the exercises cannot alter structure.

A recent review of research published in peer-reviewed, scientific journals conducted by AllAboutVision failed to uncover any studies showing that eye exercises can alter the eye’s basic anatomy significantly or eliminate presbyopia — a normal part of the ageing process, due to the hardening of the lens of the eye, which causes the eye to focus light behind rather than on the retina when looking at close objects.

Affinity Health’s day-to-day cover offers a benefit for optometry. Affinity has a partnership with Specsavers, which includes an annual eye test per beneficiary and free lenses and frames every 24 months. Services must be obtained from a network-registered optometrist. There is a limit placed on prescriptions of white standard mono or bifocal lenses with a basic frame.

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