Eyestrain? Try these 6 eye yoga exercisesWednesday 27 September 2023
When we focus closely on small print or fine detail for an extended period of time, or stare at a screen of one type or another all day, our eyes start to feel the strain. In order to combat the symptoms of eyestrain, such as dry eyes, blurred vision, headaches and fatigue, there are exercises you can do to help relax the optical muscles.
There are six muscles around each eye that connect the eye to its socket, enabling it to move in all directions. When we overexert our eyes, usually by focusing them on a task for a long time, these muscles can become tired, bringing on some or all of the symptoms of eyestrain.
It’s thought that particular exercises can help rejuvenate and relax our eyes following a long day of intense focus. Sometimes referred to as “eye yoga”, these stretches have reportedly been used for centuries in order to benefit eyesight. While there is some debate around how scientifically accurate these exercises are, it is thought that they can at the very least help with eyestrain and provide relief from its symptoms.
Stretching: Stretching your eyes works much like stretching other muscles in your body, by increasing circulation and reducing aches and pains that come as a result of overexertion. To stretch your eye muscles, you look straight ahead, all the way up, all the way down, then to your left and right. Hold your gaze for two seconds in each of these directions before doing the same in all four diagonal directions. Keep your head still to ensure it’s just your eyes that are moving during these exercises.
Deep blinking: Deep blinking is said to help relax your eyes. Choose an object on a wall to focus on and move further away until it starts to look a little blurry. Close your eyes tightly and breathe in deeply, holding for two seconds while tensing all the muscles in your body. Breathe out slowly and open your eyes, remaining focused on the object on the wall. Repeat this 10 times to help relieve tension in the muscles around your eye.
Distance gazing: This is an exercise that you can easily do without drawing any attention if you are in company. Choose a distant object and focus on it for a few seconds. Slowly move your eyes to another object next to it, continuing to focus intently. Repeat this for objects closer to you, but make sure you move your gaze slowly. It allows your eyes to focus properly on different distances which is something we do all too infrequently these days.
Flexing: Start by rolling your eyes slowly in an anticlockwise direction, ensuring that you face forward and keep your head still as you use all areas of your visual field including your peripheral vision. Do this five times and then follow with the same exercise in a clockwise motion. This helps to ensure that you stretch all parts of your eye and its muscles.
Palming: This is an exercise that is designed to give your eyes a break. Palming is simple, close your eyes and cup your hands over each of your eyes. Imagine that you are staring into the dark and maintain this for as long as it feels soothing. It has been said that relaxation is important to eye health, so giving your eyes a chance to rest throughout the day is vital.
Focus switching: Hold your thumb out in front of you and move it towards your nose until you can no longer see it clearly, or when it’s touching your nose – whichever comes first. Then slowly return your arm back to its starting position while remaining focused on your thumb. Repeat this 10 times.
While these optical stretches won’t reverse the onset or progression of any eye conditions, they can help to relieve many of the symptoms of eyestrain. As always, the content of this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of a qualified health professional with any questions you may have.
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