Eye exercises are used to treat patients who have trouble using their eyes to see correctly. A doctor may prescribe eye exercises to help patients who:
- Can't focus their eyes in order to read
- Have one eye that drifts too outward or inward
- Have undergone surgery and need to control their eyesight
- Have strabismus or crossed eyes
- Have amblyopia
- Have double vision
If you regularly experience eyesight problems such as eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches, increased eyesight sensitivity to bright light, tired eyes, or heavy eyelids, you may be a candidate for eye exercises. Eye exercises will not help patients who have nearsightedness , dyslexia, or excessive blinking or squinting of the eyes. Also, these exercises are usually not effective for paralysis of an eye muscle, eye muscle spasms, or eyesight problems that do not cause the symptoms mentioned above.
With conditions such as amblyopia, eye exercises are usually most helpful when prescribed during the diagnosis phase, or by age four, when the condition is the most treatable. Glasses or the use of an eye patch is also necessary to help the problem. Vision therapy exercises for a person with amblyopia force the brain to see through the amblyopic eye, which helps to restore vision. If amblyopia is the result of a squinting problem in one of the eyes, the condition may be corrected by wearing an eye patch over the faulty eye.
What Do the Eye Exercises Involve?
Eye exercises are often described as physical therapy for the brain and the eyes. Through a series of progressive therapeutic exercises, patients can be instructed on how to control their eye muscles and to see properly.
The eye exercises prescribed are usually unique to the patient and vary depending on the patient's age and other existing eye problems. Examples of different types of eye exercises include covering one eye with one hand and looking at different objects continuously instead of staring at just one object; concentrating the eye on a solitary object; or having the eye follow a pattern in order to build vision muscles.
Reviewed by the doctors at The Cleveland Clinic Cole Eye Institute.
Edited by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD, WebMD, October 2004.