Eye muscle movements and exercises

A woman performing eye muscle exercises.

Did you know that regular muscle movements and exercises are also beneficial for the eyes?

Granted, they won't be able to cure medical conditions, but these simple habits can help improve comfort and aid basic eye functions. Many people spend hours daily in front of an electronic device, such as a computer or laptop. This can easily deprive the eyes of the rest they need and lead to eyestrain.

Even though there's limited evidence as to the medical value of eye muscle movements and exercises, your eye doctor may recommend them in certain cases. For example, if you struggle to focus your eyes while reading, recently underwent surgery, or have blurred vision, these eye activities may offer help.

Let's talk more about simple eye exercises that you can do at home or basically anywhere you are.

  1. Flexing or eye movements. In this exercise, you must first close your eyes and then slowly open them. Next, move your eyes upward while keeping your head and body in a neutral position. Then, move your eyes downward, ensuring the rest of your body stays still. You may repeat these steps three times. Afterward, move your eyes to the left and to the right. Make sure you do it slowly and without moving your head. You can also repeat this three times.
  2. The 20-20-20 rule. This exercise is often described as ideal for desk workers or those who sit in front of the computer for their work. The procedure is simple. Since looking at the monitor for long hours can strain the eyes, this exercise aims to give your eyes some rest. The rule is to look at anything that is at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. You can set an alarm every 20 minutes as a reminder. You also don't have to look at an object that is exactly 20 feet away. You may, as an option, look far out the window and search for distant objects.
  3. Focus change. Another easy eye exercise and movement that you can do anywhere is the focus change. The only rule is that you do it in a sitting position. You can start with one of your fingers. Lift one finger in front of your face and focus on it. Then, position the finger farther away while keeping your gaze on it. Afterward, look somewhere farther away, and then look at your finger again. Move your finger closer to your face, and then change your focus to another object far away. You may also repeat the process up to three times.
  4. Pencil pushups. This next exercise may be ideal for those with convergence insufficiency or who have issues with how their eyes work together when looking at close objects. You only need a pencil to do this. First, position the pencil at arm's length, between the eyes, and stare at it while keeping a single image of it. Then, move the pencil closer to your nose until you can no longer keep a single image in your view. Afterward, hold the pencil at the closest position where you can see it as a single image, not blurred. Repeat the steps mentioned 20 times.

If your only concern is eye strain, you may start off with these eye muscle movements and exercises to relieve pressure on your eyes. Though, if the discomfort persists or progresses, don’t hesitate to see an eye doctor for an evaluation.

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