Natural vision correction may be tempting to try if you hate wearing glasses and don’t want to wear contact lenses. However, there are no clinical studies that support the claim that natural vision correction works.
What is natural vision correction?
Natural vision correction methods claim to improve refractive errors of the eyes, especially myopia (nearsightedness) and hypermetropia (farsightedness).
These methods employ eye exercises and massages to improve or sharpen eyesight. However, while eye exercises may help relieve eye strain caused by staring at devices all day, serious eye diseases such as glaucoma or macular degeneration require professional medical treatment.
Natural vision correction methods do not help with the following conditions:
- Macular degeneration
3 ways to correct refractive errors
1. Prescription glasses
Wearing prescription glasses is the safest and most effective method of vision correction because they do not weaken the eye further or speed up the process of myopia or hypermetropia. Prescription glasses should be obtained from a qualified optometrist.
If you suffer from myopia, you should get your eyes checked every year to see if your refractive power has changed and if you need new glasses. Children with myopia should get their eyes checked by an ophthalmologist (eye doctor) every 6 months because myopia can progress rapidly in children.
2. Contact lenses
Contact lenses can correct vision and help those with astigmatism (uneven corneal surface). They are a good option for people who do not want to wear glasses. They should not be worn more than 6 hours a day or longer than their recommended use period. They should also be cleaned and stored as directed.
3. Refractive surgery
Refractive surgery can help correct refractive errors in many cases. Your ophthalmologist can help determine whether or not you are a good candidate for surgery.
Types of refractive surgeries include:
- Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK): A thin, hinged flap is made on the cornea (transparent tissue layer over your iris). A laser is used to adjust the curves of the cornea to correct farsightedness.
- Laser-assisted subepithelial keratectomy (LASEK): An ultra-thin flap is made using a laser in the cornea's outer protective cover (epithelium). The surgeon attempts to change the corneal curve, thus correcting the refractive error.
- Photorefractive keratectomy (PRK): This procedure is similar to LASEK surgery, except it is more invasive. The surgeon removes the epithelium and uses a laser to reshape the cornea.
Can eye drops cure nearsightedness?
At present, the FDA has not approved atropine eye drops of any strength for myopia (nearsightedness) treatment. However, trials under FDA supervision are underway and the results have been encouraging.
Two large trials conducted in Asia have already found that atropine drops, used in a concentration of 0.01%, can slow down the progression of myopia in children by about 50%. This approach is helpful only in children between the ages of 6-12. The drug should be used as advised every night for at least 24 months for the effects to last. Whether myopia will return once the drops are stopped is unknown.
However, myopia is not curable and children who use atropine drops may still need to wear glasses or contact lenses. But with the drops, the condition may not progress to pathological myopia or complicated myopia.
How to naturally reduce eye strain
- Sunlight: Studies have shown that some amount of natural sunlight is beneficial to the eyes, especially for children. It has been proven that children exposed to outdoor light have slower myopia progression, less axial elongation, and overall better eyesight compared to those who spend their time staring at devices. However, going outdoors in strong sunlight should be avoided between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. without sunglasses or UV protective eyewear.
- Palming: Palming is an age-old eye exercise that is recommended to do every 4 hours throughout the day. Close your eyes and gently place the palms of your hands over both eyes without putting pressure. Maintain this pose for about a minute as you take deep breaths. This practice helps relax your eyes and eyelid muscles.
- Blinking and yawning: Dry, gritty eyes caused by screen exposure and reduced blinking frequency is common. Yawning can activate your tear glands, which can reduce some symptoms of eye strain. Repeated blinking can then help spread the tears across your eyes, reducing the discomfort. If it does not help, you can use artificial lubricants or eye gels to help keep your eyes moist.
- Splashing cold water: Splashing cold water over your eyes, especially after hours of staring at a digital screen, can reduce eye fatigue.
- Rolling your eyes: Sit straight and roll your eyes gently upward. Then, bring them back to a normal position. Repeat by rolling your eyes downward, sideways, and back again. Repeat every day. This simple maneuver can help reduce tension and soreness in the eyes.
- 20-20-20 rule: The 20-20-20 rule involves looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes while working in front of a computer. This helps you avoid eye strain and headaches.
- Gazing out the window: Looking as far away as possible at least 20 minutes a day helps relax the muscles that sharpen your acuity (muscles of accommodation).
- Take screen breaks: Spend your weekends away from your devices. Switch off your gadgets at least 4 hours before you go to sleep at night. Make sure you take work breaks every hour to avoid eye fatigue.
- Brow massage: Sit straight and look ahead. Using your fingertips, exert gentle pressure over your eyebrows. Move along the edges of your eyeballs and press gently on the part beneath your eyes. Then press over the point where your upper and lower eyelids converge. Repeat 3 times a day. Make sure you use clean hands and do not use too much pressure.
- Figure 8: Focus on an area on the floor around 8 feet away. Now move your eyes in the shape of figure 8. Trace the imaginary figure 8-30 seconds and then switch directions.
- Lifestyle modifications: Quit smoking, limit alcohol consumption, and eat foods rich in antioxidants. Eat bright colored fruits (bananas, berries, nuts) and vegetables (bell peppers, eggplants, carrots, greens). Make sure high blood pressure, diabetes, and other conditions are well controlled.
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Harvard Health Publishing. The lowdown on eye exercises. https://www.health.harvard.edu/diseases-and-conditions/the-lowdown-on-eye-exercises
Mayo Clinic. Farsightedness. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/farsightedness/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20372499
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