Everyone’s heard of yoga. But what about eye yoga? This gentle practice is said to help relieve eye strain, an increasingly common problem associated with heavy screen use. For World Sight Day, Thursday, October 13, here’s a look at this decades-old practice and its benefits for visual fatigue.
From computers and tablets to smartphones, these days, many people spend hours in front of screens, and this can be associated with various ailments.
If you spend your days on one of these devices, you’ve probably already experienced discomfort in your eyes, especially at the end of the day, which can result in dryness, irritation, blurred vision or even a headache.
These symptoms are likely to be associated with asthenopia, in other words, visual fatigue or eye strain. It’s not a serious problem, but it can cause some discomfort on a daily basis. This is why some ophthalmologists now recommend trying eye yoga, a practice with multiple benefits.
What is eye yoga?
Like any form of yoga, this kind of eye gymnastics is based on a series of eye exercises designed to train and strengthen the muscles in this part of the body.
According to the Paris-based Institut Laser Vision Noémie de Rothschild, which specializes in refractive surgery, eye yoga is a technique “inspired by traditional Ayurvedic medicine, [and] developed by Dr. Bates and Dr. Agarwal in 1920, [which] aims to improve visual function by relying on the anatomy of the eye and the natural functioning of the eyes.
Like other muscles in the body, with training, the oculomotor muscles tire less quickly, thus reducing long-term visual fatigue and other symptoms associated with heavy screen use. Many health professionals also agree that eye yoga is beneficial for concentration, and even more so for sleep.
Two exercises to combat visual fatigue
While it is advisable to practice eye yoga with a trained professional, there are several exercises that can be done at home to strengthen the oculomotor muscles, or fight against dryness, starting with blinking. It may seem trivial, but blinking can help distribute the tear fluid over the surface of the eye, and thus better clean and protect it.
The Institut Laser Vision Noémie de Rothschild recommends the pencil exercise, which involves holding a pencil at eye level between the index finger and the thumb.
Then, bring the object closer to your face, following it with your gaze and focus, while breathing out, then move it away again in the same way while breathing in.
This movement should be repeated several times to help relieve visual fatigue and prevent it from coming back too often.
While eye yoga may be beneficial in tackling eye strain, it’s also important to identify all its underlying causes. If the problem is recurrent, an eyesight check may be necessary.
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