June 21, 2024

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Eye exercises won’t fix your vision, here’s what to do for eye health

3 min read

The eyes have it, but these exercises don’t.

If you’ve come across one of the many eye exercise videos on TikTok, know this: It probably won’t fix your vision. 

That’s according to an eye doc who writes that eye exercise, for most people, will be a total waste of time. 

“I can tell you that no study to date shows strong evidence that these exercises eliminate the need for glasses or offer any long-term significant benefits. The science simply isn’t there,” Dr. Benjamin Botsford, assistant professor of ophthalmology at UMass Chan Medical School, writes for the Conversation. 

Eye exercises intended to improve your vision probably won’t do much, says an eye doc. doucefleur – stock.adobe.com

Whether you’ve got myopia or nearsightedness, where you can see objects close up but your distance vision is blurry; or you’ve got hyperopia, where objects close up are blurry but your distance vision is fine; or presbyopia, the need for reading glasses — unfortunately, none of it can be helped by so-called eye exercises. 

These exercises sometimes involve putting your palms over your eyes, practicing certain eye movements over and over or even straining to read by using a lower-strength prescription than what you should be using. 

You can also skip the so-called “blue light blocking” glasses, the doc notes. Recent studies have shown they don’t actually reduce eye strain and there’s only limited evidence to suggest that they’ll help keep your circadian rhythm on track. (In fact, phones and blue light might not upset your circadian rhythm as much as previously thought.)

Having a diet rich in fruits and veggies, quitting tobacco and regularly getting outside can help keep your eyes healthy. svetazi – stock.adobe.com

Having said all that, it doesn’t mean you’re in the dark when it comes to eye health. Even if you already wear glasses, there are steps you can take to keep your eyes as healthy as possible. 

What works to keep your eyes healthy

Those healthy lifestyle practices you hear about all the time are good for your eyes, too. 

Eating a healthy diet of fruits and vegetables may help reduce your risk of certain eye diseases, Botsford writes. And exercise is associated with a reduced risk of glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration.  

Quitting cigarette smoking is also crucial, the eye doc notes, as tobacco use has been associated with a number of eye diseases. 

Once you’ve got those healthy lifestyle practices down, you can also take direct steps to reduce eye strain. Stick to the 20-20-20 rule, the doc writes. That means if you’re staring at a screen or working on a device, take a visual break every 20 minutes, for 20 seconds, by looking at something 20 feet away. Botsford says that buying artificial tears can also be helpful for occasional use — but if your eyes are chronically dry, it might be time to see a professional. 

Follow the 20-20-20 rule: Every 20 minutes, look up from your computer for 20 seconds at something that’s 20 feet away. InsideCreativeHouse – stock.adobe.com

For kids, whose eyesight is still developing, limiting up-close reading and screen time outside of school can also be beneficial. Rates of myopia — or nearsightedness — have skyrocketed in recent years, with many believing it is due to the prolific use of tech by younger individuals. 

Spending more time outdoors could be key to stopping the rise, according to a recent feature published in Nature. Botsford also agrees, noting that more time outside is correlated with reduced incidences of nearsightedness in kids.


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