Recently I was asked to contribute an article about illness and exercise to a national magazine. It’s perhaps not the most obvious of subjects and combinations and initially I thought it might be a struggle to fill the rather daunting word count requirement.

Overall health and well-being

There are degrees of feeling unwell, as there are different levels of exercise that, if put together, can be comfortable and beneficial for the healing process or, if done wrongly, detrimental. I was quite happy with my finished product but within hours of submitting the words, it occurred to me how I’d completely overlooked something very easy, basic and much needed for the vast majority. Eye health.


We speak of the perfect diet and we debate the best forms of exercise, we try to find all the elements of fitness and roll them into our week’s quota of health care. Yet we’ll pop on reading glasses, slip in lenses, slide on our shades and carry on without a second thought. And if we’re not in need of the corrective lens just yet, we most likely will be in the future.

The health of our eyes

As many as 80% of us believe that vision is our most important sense. Interestingly in some countries as little s 2% of children wear glasses and in others, it is as many as 50%. This might sound rather obvious in that where there is poverty there are fewer opticians but researchers concluded otherwise.

In regions where the diet was unrefined with fewer grains and sugar, the children didn’t need glasses, whereas as soon as more refined, sugar and grain was introduced, poor vision gradually escalated. These types of food raise insulin levels and cause metabolic dysfunction and growth factors, therefore impacting on vision.

Fixing the problem with corrective lenses is a method we use these days but as many glasses wearers will have observed, their vision slowly worsens over the years. Have you ever noticed that throughout the day, your vision changes and that the focus is variable? With fixed corrective lenses in permanent use, it doesn’t follow the eyes’ natural variations of clarity.

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Even if you are bed bound with illness there are still little exercises that you can do that will take a short moment and break up the monotony of your confinement. But don’t wait for the next bout of illness before starting to improve your eye fitness!

Can you improve your ‘eye fitness’?

Every vista is an opportunity, so long as there is scope to focus on a distant object – tower, tree top, mountain, church spire, or even something at the end of a long corridor, you can flick your focus from that far distance to something like your hand, a few inches from your face. Keep zooming in and out from one to the other, gaining focus on each one and you’ll see that even by the end of 15 or so repetitions that it was easier than at the start.

It was an innovative physician 100 years ago called Dr Bates who, over 30 years, compiled strategic examinations on tens of thousands of people to support his findings that eye health can be recovered without surgery or glasses. And he did aid recovery to that vast number of poor sighted people. In fact his work was so effective that other eye specialists lobbied against him to stop the practice. It is still abated.

The effects of modern technology

We haven’t yet seen a generation come through years of daily exposure to blue light, tablets, laptops, phones and gaming screens to know the full effects of what is yet to come. But fortunately children are the most responsive group for eye care exercises. Yet the eye itself only constitutes as little as 20% of the concern, whereas the optic nerve, the extension of the brain and messaging the brain to process, is the larger problem.

It would be easy to think that it is the lack of strength in the eye muscles that causes poorer vision when actually it is the tension and contraction that is problematic.

Eye exercises not only improve the extra-ocular muscles (the eyeball’s external muscles responsible for eye movement and coordination) but for accessing different information in consciousness. They can increase learning ability, attention span and memory by improving the brainwave coherence.

Eye tips:

Even sunglasses aren’t the blessing we thought they were as they filter out many beneficial wavelengths in sunlight. We need at least 1,500 of these to nourish the retina. Unless you’re skiing or sailing or in very bright situations, wear a hat and allow the waves access.

Squinting is effective temporarily while trying to decipher small print but it creates more tension around the eyes and therefore over time, exacerbates the problem. Releasing tension is fundamental to making progress in many areas in life, not least our vision. So pay attention to this while straining to see something and relax the surrounding eye area. Blinking rapidly will relax the eye and help re-focus.

Massage around the eye area, between the eyebrows, over the temples and above the cheek bone.

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Try the near to far focus shifting as mentioned earlier.

Look at letters or small shapes and follow their formation from point to point. It takes patience and practice but add it to the repertoire!

Although not Dr Bates’ exercises, world renowned Dr Deepak Chopra suggests the following:

Close your eyes and face the sun. Hold it for 15 seconds, then massage the eye lid gently, all over, while still facing the sun. Turn away with the eyes closed and then start again twice more. You’ll see a whole spectrum of colours behind your closed eyes.

Facing straight ahead try each of the following and hold for 15 seconds:

Look up and to the left. To help with visual memory and recall.

Look down and to the left. We do this while trying to remember a tune. This helps access auditory memory.

Look up and to the right. This helps create new visual ideas.

Look down and to the right. We make this movement when we want to recall an experience of touch.

Look directly to the right. New sound forms are accessed with this movement.

Look down to the end of the nose. This is to accesses the ability to strengthen olfactory sense.

Look down toward the tongue. This strengthens gustatory senses.

Look upward and inward trying to look at the space between the eyebrows. This is to heighten intuition.


Read more from Expert Joey Bull.

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