In a tough economy, saving money is on everyone's mind. But when it comes to eye care, experts say that what you do to save money today may put you at risk of much higher costs in the future.
"As people try to ration their income, they will often choose to forgo or skip their routine eye exam," says Samuel Pierce, OD, a Trussville, Ala.-based optometrist and a board member of the American Optometric Association. "It's penny-wise and health care-foolish."
Although scientific proof of effectiveness is lacking, there are doctors who may recommend eye exercises for eyestrain, blurred vision, headaches, increased sensitivity to bright light, tired eyes, or difficulty sustaining attention. Eye exercises will not help people 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 (decreased vision in an eye due to preferential use of the other eye which develops in childhood), eye exercises may be helpful when prescribed in early childhood. Providing proper eyeglasses, if needed, is the first step. Amblyopia is then treated by patching or using eyedrops to block or blur the good eye. Vision therapy exercises can also force the brain to see through the amblyopic eye, which helps to restore vision.
What Do Eye Exercises Involve?
Eye exercises are designed to strengthen the eye muscles, improve focusing, eye movements, and stimulate the vision center of the brain. Through a series of progressive therapeutic exercises, you can be instructed on how to control your 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 changing focus of both eyes from near to far and back to near, switching as each distance becomes clear; 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.