Health - General
By: - at September 4, 2013

Top 15 Natural Ways to Improve Your Eyesight

Poets call eyes the windows of the soul. In truth, eyes are your windows out on the world. We depend on our eyes more than any of our other senses. According to the National Institutes of Health, 80 percent of the sensory information the brain receives and processes comes from your eyes. Most Americans report that a loss of vision would have more impact on their daily lives than any other sort of disability, including the loss of an arm or leg, hearing, or memory.

improve eyesight

Even so, our eyesight naturally changes over time. It is common for eyesight to degrade as you get older. Many people turn to glasses or contacts in order to see clearly as they age. There are natural methods to nurture your eyesight, though. No method for eye improvement is foolproof, but you can improve and protect the vision you have. Here are 15 things you can do for better vision.

15)  Eye Massage
Your eyes are part of a larger system, including numerous muscles and nerves that assist your eyes in doing their work of seeing the world. The muscles around your eyes are constantly working, making small adjustments that you probably don't even notice. Visian ICL recommends gentle massage to relax the muscles around the eye and increase blood flow, providing relief. Gently massage the eye socket bone above the eyes, stroking in toward the nose with light pressure.

eye massage

Push lightly on the pressure points at the inner and outer corners of your eyebrows, repeating several times. Very gently, press on the inner corner of your eyes, where the fold of your eyelid begins. Rub your temples. Also rub the very back of your skull. The occipital lobe, the part of the brain which processes visual input, is located at the very back of the brain. Massage this area to increase blood flow. Breathe deeply and relax while you do these massages.

14)  Palming Eyes
Developed by ophthalmologist and vision-researcher Dr. William Bates over 100 years ago, this is another technique to enable the eyes to relax, by removing all light and visual stimulation. Simple palming as an exercise very similar to playing peek-a-boo with a small child. In short, hold your hands up to your face and cover your eyes. Shut out all light, and make sure the palms do not touch the eyelids. For more benefit, warm your palms by rubbing them lightly together or by running them under warm water before palming. Increase the sense of relaxation by imagining complete blackness in front of your eyes.

palming eyes

Breathe slowly and deeply to encourage relaxation throughout your body. Keep the spine and neck straight to encourage maximum blood flow up into the head and around the eyes. The key difference between palming and simply closing the eyes is that bright light filters through closed eyelids. Detecting light, the eyes cannot naturally relax. They must try to interpret what they see. Excluding all light enables the eyes to really become quiet and relax completely. Use palming for several minutes every day to relieve eye strain and improve vision, or more often if desired.

13)  Increase Blood Flow to Head and Eyes
Your eyes are nourished by blood, just like every part of your body. Tiny blood vessels run around and through your eyes, providing nutrients and taking away waste substances. Tension can restrict blood vessels anywhere in the body, and tired eyes are often accompanied by tension around the eyes and in the muscles that control them.

couple relaxing in health spa, eye relaxing

You can increase blood flow to your eyes by relaxing the area around your eyes, as well as relaxing your neck and shoulders and your entire body. Stretch your neck gently by nodding up and down. Let your chin sink to your chest, and then raise your head and look at the ceiling. Repeat this exercise several times to encourage tense neck muscles to relax and encourage better blood flow through the vessels in the neck and up into the head. Also spend a few moments relaxing your whole body. Spend a few minutes sitting with your eyes closed, paying attention to your breathing, and imagine tension sinking out of you into the floor. This will help your entire body to relax and get the benefits of improved circulation, including your face and eyes.

12)  Take Breaks from Close Focus
So many modern people spend their whole lives focusing at what's inside the reach of their hands. The modern reliance on computers and smartphones makes us slaves to our close vision, always keeping our eyes trained on near objects. This can make our eyes overly tired and also negatively impact our distance vision. If the muscles that focus our eyes are always working within a small range, they get overly tired from doing just one thing and lose their ability to focus elsewhere. You need to give your eyes the opportunity to exercise out of this accustomed range.

close focus, close viewing, close-up sight

The most simple exercise to help this kind of close-focus eyestrain and distance-focus weakness is to spend time looking into the distance. Taking breaks every 30 to 60 minutes to look at something distant for several seconds really does help reduce eye strain. If you can look out a window, it will give your eyes the best break possible. If you are stuck far indoors, at least choose the farthest point of view you can. For an even better rest, get up from your desk and actually go outdoors to rest your vision. It will give your whole body a break and some fresh air. Move around to improve blood flow, which helps your body work better, including your eyes.

11)  Individual Eye Exercises
Exercising both eyes independently gives both of them a chance to get a workout. We naturally have a "dominant" eye, one that takes the lead in all vision tasks. It may not have better vision; it's just that the brain naturally prefers the input from that eye first over the other. Since eyes normally work together, you probably can't tell much of a difference between your dominant eye and non-dominant eye. The non-dominant eye may not get as much exercise in focusing work as the dominant one. You can remedy this by exercising each eye separately.

individual eye exercises

Simply close each eye and do some focusing exercises with the open eye. Hold your finger or a pen up in front of your face while closing one eye. With the open eye, look at the pen or finger for a few seconds, and then look at something in the distance for a few seconds. Repeat this a few times, and then switch eyes and perform the same exercise. This will give both eyes practice at changing focus, preventing the dominant eye from taking over, and not letting the non-dominant eye get its fair share of the work.

10)  Exercise Eye Muscles
Your eyes are surrounded by a network of musc

\les that enable your eyes to move. Without these muscles, you would be stuck staring straight ahead, only able to look to the side by turning your head or your whole body. These muscles can benefit from exercise too, so that your eyes can turn quickly to respond to visual stimuli.

facial and eye muscles

You can exercise your eye muscles by running your eyes in patterns back and forth, up and down, and in circular motions. For lateral exercise, look at something with a pattern of horizontal lines, like a set of blinds. Run your eyes left across one blind, drop to the next, run your eyes right, and repeat to the bottom. When you reach the bottom, do the same exercise in reverse, working from the bottom to the top. Find something with vertical lines, such as books on a shelf, to exercise the eyes moving vertically. Run your eyes down the spine of one book, up the spine of the next, and so on. At the end of the shelf, repeat going in the other direction. For circular motion, find something round. Let your eyes follow the curved edge around the shape. Then let your eyes follow a path which spirals to the center of the object, and then spiral back out. You can do these exercises with both your eyes together, or you can exercise one eye at a time to also improve the focusing abilities of each eye separately.

9)  Improve Peripheral Vision
Your peripheral vision is what you can see at the "corner of your eye." It is all of your vision which surrounds your main point of focus. People can usually identify what they look straight at with ease. It is harder, though, to identify items which are far from the center of our focus, especially objects which are very close to the edge of our vision.

Practice helps to improve peripheral vision. One exercise combines neck stretching and loosening with practice of peripheral vision. Stand or sit straight, neck relaxed. Turn your head slowly to one side as far as you can without strain. Let your eyes continue moving in that direction, and look as far behind you as you can. Hold this position for a second, then let your eyes and head return to center. Then turn your head slowly in the other direction and repeat the exercise. Don't strain your neck or your eyes to see farther, simply be aware of what you can see. With a few relaxed repetitions, you may find your neck muscles allow you to turn your head farther, and with greater attention, you will find yourself identifying items at the edge of your peripheral vision more easily.

Optometrist Measuring Peripheral Vision With Visual Field Test
Optometrist Measuring Peripheral Vision With Visual Field Test

A more simple exercise is to simply focus on something straight ahead of you. Then notice what you can see using your peripheral vision, without moving your eyes from their initial point of focus. The more you practice this exercise, the better you will get at identifying items in your peripheral vision.

8)  Eat Carrots (and Other Orange Veggies)
Vitamin A is vital to good eye health. This vitamin is a key component of "visual purple," formally known as rhodopsin, a pigment in the retina which enables us to see light. Without rhodopsin, you would be unable to see at all, because your "vision" is simply an interpretation of the light that bounces into your eyes from the objects around us. When this pigment is lacking, your night vision suffers first, and then regular vision. Having sufficient vitamin A helps your bodies to produce enough visual purple to support good vision. In addition to good vision, vitamin A helps your immune system and promotes great skin health.

carrrot juice, help improve vision with orange vegetables and carrots

The best way to get vitamin A is to eat plants high in beta carotene, which is the chemical pre-cursor to vitamin A found in plants. Carrots, unsurprisingly, are a rich source of beta carotene, which is why eating carrots has always been linked to good vision. Other orange foods are also rich in beta carotene, including sweet potatoes, butternut squash, apricots, and cantaloupe, as well as orange or red spices such as paprika and cayenne pepper. Breaking the orange streak, dark green leafy vegetables tend to have lots of beta carotene, as well as many herbs.

7)  Vitamin C and Bioflavonoids
Vitamin C and bioflavonoids are antioxidants that improve health throughout your body, but have some key influences in your eye health. These chemicals are often found in the same foods, and they work together in the body to promote health and good vision. Antioxidants defend our health by protecting us against damaging molecules called free radicals. Free radicals are molecules with an unbalanced chemical structure, which seek to combine with other substances to achieve balance. Unfortunately they sometimes do this by scavenging pieces out of healthy cells, damaging those cells. Antioxidants are molecules which seek out free radicals and trade electrons with them, balancing the structure of both molecules and protecting healthy cells.

Vitamin C promotes healthy blood vessels, including the crucial tiny blood vessels which feed the retina. There are studies which suggest a diet with good amounts of vitamin C can reduce the risks of forming cataracts or macular degeneration.

Oranges Are a Great Source for Biolfavonoids and Vitamin C
vitamin C rich food oranges

Bioflavonoids are often found in the same foods as vitamin C, and in fact, provide the pigmentation which gives many fruits and vegetables their natural, vibrant colors. Bioflavonoids work very closely with vitamin C, providing and helping with the same health benefits. In particular, bioflavonoids found in bilberries are very good for your eyes. These bioflavonoids also work to protect the eye against cataracts and macular degeneration, as well as promoting health throughout the eye.

6)  Eat Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Fat has too often been portrayed as the "bad guy" in maintaining good health. In fact, fat is vital to good health, when kept in balance inside the body. The eyes particularly need the right kinds of fats in order to function. There are substances called fatty acids, which are the building blocks of fat cells, and are also involved in hormone production and regulation. Some of these, the "essential" fatty acids, are not produced in the body but must be consumed in our food. Of these, the omega-3 fatty acids are particularly important for bolstering eye health and good vision.

Flax Seeds Are a Great Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Flax Seeds Are a Great Source of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Clinical studies have found that omega-3 fatty acids are a vital ingredient in the development of vision in infants. This compound is found in breast milk, an indicator of its importance to the developing human body. Tests of infants fed using formula discovered that formulas fortified with the compounds from omega-3 fatty acids demonstrated the benefits of those compounds. Infants fed with the formula higher in the fatty-acid compounds demonstrated better vision when tested at two months of age, and again at four months.

In adults, good levels of omega-3 fatty acids appear to protect against macular degeneration. They also help in the proper drainage of fluids from the eye, maintaining the correct pressure inside the eye and protecting against glaucoma.

5)  Lutein Protects Central Vision
A substance called lutein plays another key role in how the eyes work and in protecting vision. Lutein is present in an area of the eye called the macula, which is at the back of the eye and just above the optic nerve. The macula is primarily responsible for our direct vision. It can be very sensitive to the wavelengths of blue light and ultraviolet light, which we do not perceive as visual light, but which nevertheless, enter our eyes along with all other wavelengths of light. These are the shortest wavelengths of light, and have the potential to damage the macula. Lutein protects the macula by filtering blue light before it reaches the macula, so that its effect is lessened.

Dark Leafy Vegetables Like Spinach Are a Great Source of Lutein
Dark Leafy Vegetables Like Spinach Are a Great Source of Lutein

The body does not produce lutein, so it must be ingested in order to make sure we have enough to protect our eyesight. Lutein is related to other bioflavonoids, pigments that color many vegetables we eat. Lutein is found in the greatest concentration in dark green leafy vegetables, so having a nice big salad is an easy way to help protect your eyes. It would take several servings of spinach to reach the daily recommended amount of lutein, though, so the best way to get this bioflavonoid is to eat a good range of colorful vegetables daily.

4)  Avoid Sugar and Processed Foods
The link between your eyes and sugar intake is subtle, but the consequences of high sugar consumption can be devastating to your vision. When you eat sugar or other carbohydrates, your body naturally releases insulin to control the amount of sugar in your bloodstream. If you mostly consume sugars in natural foods like fruits and vegetables, and balance your diet with a good mix of other foods as well, your body only releases small amounts of insulin and your entire system stays in balance. However, when you eat lots of high-sugar foods, especially foods full of processed sugars; your body needs to release huge jolts of insulin to keep those sugars in check. A large release of insulin can lead to feeling overly tired, which is often counteracted by another huge dose of sugar. This repeating cycle of sugar consumption followed by large releases of insulin has been linked to serious, damaging inflammation in blood vessels, including the tiny blood vessels inside your eyes.

Eating Too Many Foods Rich in Sugar Can Lead to Diabetes and Many Diabetes Patients Have Issues With Their Vision
Eating Too Many Foods Rich in Sugar Can Lead to Diabetes and Many Diabetes Patients Have Issues With Their Vision

High blood sugar can cause the lens inside your eye to swell, which can lead to cataracts. Over time the lens loses its ability to self-heal, and the damage caused by high blood sugar can no longer be repaired. The constriction of blood vessels caused by the high sugar/high insulin cycle also impairs the eye's ability to drain excess fluid when needed. The extra fluid increases the pressure within the eye, which if not stopped will damage the optic nerve. This is the condition called glaucoma, one of the leading causes of blindness in the U.S.

3)  Wear Sunglasses
Many people wear sunglasses when the sun is bright in order to see better and avoid too-bright sun from hurting their eyes. You may not realize that those sunglasses also protect your eyes from long-term damage. As noted before, the macula is an area on the back of the eye which responsible for most of our direct vision and which is very sensitive to blue and ultraviolet light, which come in very short wavelengths. As lutein helps to filter these wavelengths at the back of the eye, sunglasses filter them from entering the eye at all, reducing the strain on your macula and protecting your long-term vision. For the maximum protection, get sunglasses which are rated to protect against UV rays.

sexy girl wearing sunglasses

Sunglasses can also help to prevent cataracts, as ultraviolet light can also damage the lens over time. As the lens grows older and less able to heal from damage, the damage caused by ultraviolet light and other factors can cause the lens to grow cloudy. Sunglasses help to prevent any damage from light. Sunglasses also protect the delicate skin around the eyes from the sun's rays, which also protects the skin from damage and the potential development of skin cancer. To increase the protection from sun damage in and around the eyes, wear at hat in addition to dark glasses.

2)  Take Regular Breaks
As noted earlier, many people spend a lot of time looking at screens, either as part of their work or for play, and it can have serious consequences for eyes. Just as repetitive use of a mouse or keyboard can lead to carpal tunnel syndrome in the wrists, the muscles and nerves in the eyes can suffer damage from constant use in the same small range of vision. This happens when you sit in front of a computer screen for hours, barely changing your position. The eyes do not have a chance to relax, and the muscles controlling the eyes are always working, but within a very small range of motion. Just like any of your muscles get tired and cramped if held too long in one condition, eye strain and pain results from forcing the eyes to do the same thing for too long.

take regular breaks

The best protection against this is to take regular breaks. Get away from your computer screen, leave your phone behind, and go look at something new for a few minutes. Make a point of looking at something distant, to give your eyes a chance to relax and the muscles controlling your eyes to stretch and move. While you're at it, you can do some gentle stretches to give the rest of your body a break as well. Stretching and relaxing makes you feel more at ease and increases blood flow throughout your body, making you feel more alert. Your eyes, and the rest of your body, will return to work with improved vision and concentration.

1)  Get Proper Rest
Very few parts of the body can work constantly without rest. Even the heart, brain, and lungs, which never take time off, need a periodic shift into sleep in order to rest and repair. One of the best things you can do for your eyes, as well as your whole body, is to get enough sleep. This gives your eyes a chance to truly relax, which they rarely can do while you are awake (remember that the great majority of data the brain receives through your senses comes from your eyes).

woman sleeping in darkened room

For the best eye health, sleep in a completely darkened room. The eyes are extremely sensitive to light, and even when the eyelids are closed a little bit of light can seep through. Deep darkness also signals to the rest of the body that it is time to relax and sleep, which can improve your entire quality of sleep. Don't skimp on the hours you need for sleep and try to fill in with caffeine and sugar to stay awake. As earlier discussed, sugar is not good for your eye health. Caffeine has a similar effect on your body, causing your blood vessels to constrict and reducing blood flow. This will make your eyes feel tired much faster. Get a good night's sleep, and your eyes will wake up refreshed.

We depend so much on our eyes that it is hard to imagine what we would do without them. There are simple steps you can to do to promote long-lived eye health. With some good dietary choices, easy stretching and massage, and simple protections, your eyes will serve you for a long time.





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