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