Vision exercises may be incorporated into a vision therapy treatment plan to improve eye health, enhance visual attention and concentration, and help treat patients with binocular vision disorders.
Reasons for performing vision exercises
Vision exercises are somewhat controversial. Some people claim eye exercises can reduce refractive error; however, eye exercises cannot alter the eye's basic anatomy.
The reason many eye doctors continue to recommend vision exercises is that they can be used to successfully "train" eyes to see more clearly. Children and adults with binocular vision problems can benefit from vision exercises to make sure their eyes are working together properly. Studies have also shown that while vision exercises may not produce an actual change in the eye, they can alter the way the brain interprets an image, helping patients see clearly and improving their focusing ability.
Examples of vision exercises
One of the most commonly prescribed eye exercises is the classic pencil push-up. To complete this exercise, a pencil is held in front of the face at arm's length. The patient then slowly draws the pencil closer to their eyes, attempting to keep it in clear focus. When the pencil begins to blur and the image doubles, the pencil is drawn away from the eyes. This exercise can be repeated several times during the course of a day. The goal of the pencil push-up is to improve binocular vision.
Another common eye exercise is called "patching." One eye is covered with an eye patch in order to encourage the patient to use the other eye. Patients are asked to focus on distant letters to strengthen the uncovered eye. This is a typical eye exercise used to treat amblyopia, which is also known as lazy eye.
When to see a doctor
If you want to find out if vision exercises can help improve your eyesight, contact your eye doctor to discuss possible treatment.