When I contemplate the basic five human senses–sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch–sight stands out as my most coveted sense. 

The sense of sight allows us to visually take in all the beauty that is around us. It is also vital when scanning for safety and opportunity in our surroundings. 

Sight is most certainly a sense we want to preserve and protect. Fortunately, there are quite a few exercises you can do to help strengthen your sense of sight and reduce eye strain, as you will learn below.

How Does Our Eyesight Work?

The human eye is a sense organ. Along with the central visual system, it makes up the ocular system (see diagram). The eye sees objects because of the presence of light (a portion of electromagnetic radiation that is visible to the human eye) and pressure. 

Light starts by reflecting off the object the eye is directed toward. The light rays enter through the front of the eye (the cornea and the aqueous humor). The light then enters the pupil to reach the lens. 

The lens focuses the light and it passes through a thick and clear fluid that fills the eyeball (the vitreous humor) then it travels onto the back of the eye (the retina). The retina then translates the light into electrical impulses, sends it to the optic nerve, and it is carried to the brain. 

The electrical impulses are then interpreted by the visual cortex so we can interpret what we see. Cool, right? Now check out these wonderful ways to release tension and tune up your eye muscles.

Eye Self Care Techniques For Healthier Eyes

Technique #1: Practice the 20-20-20 Rule

Staring at a computer or smartphone causes us to not blink as much as we should. This can cause eyes to not have enough moisture. Eye strain can also be caused by stress and fatigue. 

To help combat some of this eye fatigue, practice the 20-20-20 rule. For every 20 minutes you spend using a computer, tablet, smartphone, etc. look 20 feet away at an object (like a beautiful tree outside your window or your mischievous cat knocking stuff off your coffee table) for 20 seconds. 

Every 20 minutes when working on a screen, pause and gaze 20 feet away for 20 seconds

Just relax and observe something that isn’t a screen. Set a timer for 20 minute intervals to help you remember to take these important eye health breaks. 

Technique #2: The Suboccipital Self-Massage

This self-massage exercise can help dissolve occipital tenderness associated with skull, neck, and upper back muscle tension and headaches. Including diaphragmatic breaths in this exercise will help to stimulate the vagus nerve. This will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, signaling your body to relax.

With your Roll Model® therapy balls in their tote, place them on top of a yoga block (oriented parallel to the block). 

Lie down on your yoga mat and place the therapy balls and block underneath your head. They should be nestled under your occiput (base of your skull), touching your posterior neck muscles. 

Close your eyes and slowly nod your head “yes,”, syncing the movement with slow diaphragmatic (belly) breaths (20 reps). 

Nod your head “yes” relieve sub occipital tenderness – but even slower than this

Next, slowly turn your head “no” left and right while syncing the movement with slow diaphragmatic inhales and exhales. 

Shake your head “no” to ease tension from neck muscles related to the eyes  – but slower than this

Inhale while turning your head to the left and feel the left therapy ball press more deeply into the left splenius capitis muscle. Slowly exhale while turning your head to the right and feel the right therapy ball work its magic on your right splenius capitis muscle.

Technique #3: Movements to Exercise Your Eyes 

Fixing your gaze on a computer, TV, or phone causes a lack of movement and can weaken the muscles that move your eyes. This can also cause poor lubrication on the eyeballs.

The following exercises will help you strengthen the range of motion for your sight. These are great for kids as well.

Look as high up as possible, then straight down x 10, finish with a 30-second hold in each direction

 

Look as far to the right as possible, then left x 10, finish with a 30-second hold in each direction

 

Look up left on a diagonal, then bottom right x 10, finish with a 30-second hold in each direction

 

Look up right on a diagonal, then bottom left x 10, finish with a 30-second hold in each direction

 

Circle your eyeballs counter-clockwise x 10

 

Circle your eyeballs clockwise x 10

 

Cross your eyes and look from the tip of your nose to between your eyebrows x 10

 

Open your eyes as wide as possible, then relax them x 10

 

Scrunch your eyes closed as tightly as possible, then relax them x 10

Thank you to Yokibu “Eye Exercises for Children” for the inspiration for the above practices.

Technique #4: Weighted Eye Pillow 

Grab a weighted eye pillow and spend 5 minutes (or 20… or an hour) laying down comfortably, with the pillow resting over your eyes. 

The gentle pressure from the eye pillow helps to lower heart-rate by activating the oculocardiac reflex. 

Rest an eye pillow over your eyes and relax in savasana for 5, 10… or 60 minutes 🙂

The oculocardiac reflex is regulated by the extraocular muscles within each eye. These contain nerve endings that are responsible for this reflexive action. Activating the oculocardiac reflex also has the added benefit of stimulating the vagus nerve. Both together trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, signaling to your body that it’s okay to rest, relax, regenerate, and digest. 

Additional Ways to Preserve Your Vision

Wearing UV Protective Lenses 

One of the most important things you can do to preserve your vision is to protect your eyes from ultraviolet rays. Wear UVA and UVB blocking lenses that cover your entire eye area. 

Wearing sunglasses that protect your eyes from 99 – 100% of UV rays helps to protect the eyes from macular degeneration, cataracts, and eyelid cancer.  

The author, Missy and her dog, Jamie understand how important her vision is so she wears these dog goggles on particularly sunny days.

Regular Eye Exams 

Eyes are not only the windows to our souls, but they are also often the windows to our health.

Even if you don’t wear corrective lenses, it’s still important to get yearly eye exams. Optometrists and ophthalmologists can spot health issues such as glaucoma and cancer.  

Eye doctors are also often the first medical professionals to detect diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol in patients while examining the minuscule blood vessels surrounding the retina. Unhealthy blood vessels can be the early warning signals for these serious health conditions. 

I hope this article helps you to keep your eyes healthy for many years to come so that you can continue to see all the beauty that life has to offer! 

 

Shop this post: For neck massage, get Original Yoga Tune UP Therapy Ball Pair (used in the first neck massage technique), the Therapy BALL PLUS, or ALPHA TWIN Set (in the second ball tecknique)

 

Related ArticleTwo Minutes to Peace: Fun and Fast-Acting Relaxation Breathing Techniques for Stressful Times

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Vera

These exercises are wonderfully accessible for a wide variety of audiences. I especially like knowing about the oculocardiac reflex. Now I have the perfect justification for more eye pillow time!

benedikte handal

this blog i just loooove, we so dont exercise our eyes ; we take our eyesight as we do our breath for granted. As a yoga teacher, i admit that I focus very much on asanas, pranayama but I do leave out eye exercise. this blog has helped remind me to not take my sight from granted and going forward I will share these lovely exercises.

Tisha

I do the subocciptal self-massage almost every day and use it frequently at the end of my classes. The eye movement exercises are so important. Not only for the health of the eyes and maintaining range of motion, but also the inner ear, and the movement systems are integrated together. Because your visual system provides so much input through everything that you do, continually training it and making sure that it’s functioning well is one of my highest priorities for my private clients, because poor vision often equates to poor posture and poor movement, pain, a lot of other issues.… Read more »

Natasha

What a great post. Even at the young age of 30 I really notice a lot of growing eye issues, especially after my lasik surgery a few years ago. My eyes are much more often dry, red, and incredibly sensitive (for example, I became severely allergic to false lashes). Do other people have similar symptoms after their Lasik surgery?

Really love the eye exercises – very accessible as you can practice them almost anywhere almost at anytime. Even just doing an abbreviated version of the exercises right now made my eyes feel so much better!

Melanie Hale

Thanks for sharing these exercises for the eyes, I especially enjoy the eye circles and movements from left to right and up and down. I sometimes offer this to students as the begin savasana and they say that it really helps them relax.

Sara M

As someone who suffers from eye strain and headaches, this was a well appreciated reminder to put the same effort into care for the eyes as we do the rest of the body… funny how this area gets overlooked. I’ve tried suboccipital massage and a weighted pillow before to relax my eyes, and always enjoyed the temporary relief it brought but never thought much about STRENGTHENING these muscles. The exercises were fun, helped relieve pain and will bring more long term effects as the muscles get stronger. Thanks 🙂

jisook park

I love this information these day my eye easily get tired,
20-20-20 eye exercise and neck massage to get Vegas nerve relax . It should be for everybody want to do for the eyes.
What I feel these day after reading each blog post, I got smarter and smarter like I had read one book.

Julie Mackey

I recognize that weak eye muscles can be attributed to more issues from blue light which occurs from our screen time and even bright sun light. The muscles of the eyes need attention and the tips are really helpful to reassure we can improves visual performance, help protect and maintain proper eye health, help support vision in low light settings, help reduce eye fatigue and eye strain, may help reduce eye health deterioration common with age.

Maggie Zaleski

This is such a great topic that often gets overlooked by many- myself included. I love the 20-20-20 rule! I find that I spend a large amount of time looking at my laptop screen working on schoolwork. I tend to take eye breaks when this happens, but it usually only lasts for a few seconds. That’s such a great idea to set a timer every 20 minutes. Now that the new semester has begun, I imagine I’ll be using this tip a lot. I also love the eye exercises!

Leanne W.

Thank you for this article! I was just speaking with a co-worker yesterday about eye exercises. It’s amazing how one’s eyes feel after putting them through their paces! The Roll Model techniques you shared are my favorite way to end my yoga practice, just before savasana.

Jill D Sansom

Oculocardiac reflex? Who even knew about this? Just one more reason to pull out the lavendar eye pillow and indulge in some savasana with the added benefit of eye health. These exercise techniques I found a bit challenging, as my eyes did tire doing them. Just another great article and item to add to my routine for health. Thanks!