Can you improve your eyesight vision through eye exercises?

In a Nutshell

  • Vision impairment is a common condition that occurs with age or due to certain health issues
  • Holistic practices such as Bates Method, yoga, exercises are not scientifically proven to improve vision
  • Several medical and surgical interventions can be employed to correct vision such as corrective glasses, contact lenses, laser surgery etc.

Vision Impairment

Vision impairment or changes are common with advancing age. According to latest estimates by Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 40 million Americans have some degree of vision impairment. This includes about 1 million Americans who are living with complete blindness. Besides advancing age, certain environmental, dietary factors as well as certain diseases can also makes you more vulnerable to vision impairment.

Can you improve your eyesight using Bates Method?

We all know of the common medical and surgical interventions that can to vision such as corrective glasses, contact lenses, laser surgery. But can we improve our vision naturally?

The Bates Method is a therapy that was devised by William Horatio Bates – an eye physician, who suggested in 1920 that all eye problems including vision are a result of constant strain on the eyes. He suggested that removing all eye strain from eyes can improve the vision. His recommendations and techniques were published in his book - Perfect Sight Without Glasses.

The fundamental steps or interventions of Bates Method are:

  • Palming: This technique involves covering your closed eyes with your palms (without applying any pressure) at periodic intervals throughout the day. Bates believed that this technique reduces stress and strain from your eyes.
  • Sungazing: This technique involves exposing white portion of your eyes to sun every morning for a few seconds at a time to get warmth and energy from sun.
  • Eye Exercises: This technique involves movement of eyeballs in all directions (right, left, up and down) to strengthen eye muscles and improve focus every few hours.
  • Mental imagery: This technique involves visualization of different objects with eyes closed to induce relaxation and calmness.

There is no evidence that Bates Method can improve vision. In fact, some techniques such as sunning, and palming may even damage your eyes and should therefore be avoided.

Can you improve your eyesight naturally?

There is no quick and easy way to improve your vision. Healthcare providers believe that healthy lifestyle changes and proper diet can slow down the age related vision impairment, but there is no scientific evidence that strategies like rest, eye exercises, certain foods, and eye massage can improve vision (nearsightedness or farsightedness) at all.

Are there any strategies that can prevent or slow down vision impairment?

Following interventions can aid in improving vision:

  1. Protective Eyewear: make sure to wear protective eye-gear if you work in a certain industry where you are exposed to intense light, flames, heat, chemicals, glass, or other hazardous agents. This could range from eyeglasses, googles, helmets and eye shields.
  2. Sunglasses: Protect your eyes when you are outdoors with eyeglasses as harmful UV light from sun can not only impair your vision but can also aggravate your risk of certain cancers and cataracts.
  3. Periodic Eye Examination: It is recommended to see an ophthalmologist at periodic intervals (every 6 to 12 months) to detect vision issues as early as possible.
  4. Maintain your health issues: Some health issues can aggravate your risk of vision impairment if not managed adequately; this includes diabetes, hypertension, heart diseases, high blood cholesterol levels, multiple sclerosis etc.

Nuances/ Safety

If your vision is significantly impaired and is affecting your capability to maintain a normal lifestyle, speak to an ophthalmologist about possible interventions such as spectacles, drugs, laser, and contact lenses.

Strength of Evidence:C
Per recommendations made by The American Association of Pediatric Ophthalmology and The American Academy of Ophthalmology

Our Ruling:

Vision impairment is a common phenomenon that affects almost everyone at some point in life. Although, holistic methods such as well-balanced, nutritious diet as well as regular exercise can improve your overall health, there is little evidence that techniques like Bates Method, eye exercises and other interventions can meaningfully improve vision.

Our Sources:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5769202/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/324635
  3. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1186/1472-6882-13-306
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How we grade evidence?

Learn more about it here.