When did you start requiring glasses to read a menu, a book, or a computer screen? Or was your problem the opposite—the inability to read the blackboard at school? I was about 12 when I first noticed that I couldn’t read what the teacher wrote on the board in the classroom. This occurred within a year of getting my period. Looking back, I now see that I had a lot of unexpressed anger at the time. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, eyes are in the liver meridian. And the primary emotion associated with the liver is anger. I also developed classical migraine headaches and plantar fasciitis around that time.
Adolescent angst, of course. But the issues were very real. And because I had no safe way to express how I really felt, they manifested in my body and in my eyes. Think: “I don’t want to see this.” The diagnosis was myopia (nearsightedness), which is the inability to see at a distance. I hated getting glasses. No one else in my family needed them. Just me. Old four eyes. As soon as contact lenses became available—the hard ones—I got a pair. And have been using them ever since. So, we’re talking a few decades between now and then. But a funny thing happened along the way to getting a stronger and stronger prescription every year. My eyesight started to improve. That’s not supposed to happen, right? But it did.
There’s an underlying myth about aging here, which I’d like to point out. We all have a collective belief that it’s normal to get stronger corrective lenses each year. And we don’t question this. But I want you to question it! We have the ability to improve our eyesight in a way that has nothing to do with wearing glasses!
Eyestrain Is the Culprit
How is that possible? Well it begins with the Bates method of Vision Improvement as taught by Greg Marsh at BetterEyesightNow.com. The first thing I learned was that eyestrain experienced over time is what causes vision to deteriorate. Try something right now. Take off your glasses (or remove your contact lenses). Now make a fist with one hand and open it just enough so that if you hold it up to your eye so you can see light coming through it.
Now notice that when you look at something through that tiny hole in your fist, you have clear vision. This is how pinhole glasses work. How can that be? The ability to see clearly is caused by holding tension in the muscles around your eyeball. Over time, eyestrain—if held chronically by staring at a book, a computer screen, or a television without relaxing your eyes—will produce enough tension to distort the shape of your eyeball, causing your vision to be impaired.
Now think about it. Do squirrels need glasses? How about cats and dogs? How is it that wild animals have such keen vision (in most cases) while we humans think it’s natural to need glasses starting around the age of 40? Here’s the truth—our modern lifestyle, including artificial lighting, lack of sunlight, and constant staring at the printed word inevitably leads to eyestrain in most of us.
I’m sure you’ve noticed that you’re able to read easily in good light, especially outside in natural sunlight. Vision just instantly improves in natural light—which is a nutrient not only to our eyes but also to the rest of our bodies. The truth is, we need daily natural light for optimal vision and health. I’m not suggesting you stare at the sun. I just mean walking around in natural light without glasses, sunglasses, or contact lenses.
Release the Tension
Tension Release Exercise
Here’s another exercise. Stand up. And now swing your arms to the left and to the right, rotating your body from one side to the other. Allow your eyes to move around the room without staring at anything—just continually allow things to come into your visual field. Relaxing, isn’t it? Try this exercise before going to sleep. You’ll find it very restful.
Here’s one more called “palming.” Palming is used in many schools in Asia to help prevent eyestrain in children. Here’s what you do.
- Rub your hands together.
- Now open your palms and cup your eyes with the lower part of your palms resting gently on the bone underneath your eyes and your fingertips resting gently against your forehead. There is an energy center in your palm—a chakra, if you will.
- As you completely relax in this palming position, notice how healing and warm it feels to have your palms over your eyes. Ideally we would all be palming for five to ten minutes every hour that we sit staring at a printed page or computer.
- Notice how good it feels to simply let go and allow the strain to leave your eyeballs.
There are many ways to learn how to relax your eyeballs and allow vision to simply come to you—instead of straining to see. These are just a few. The main thing I want you to know is that it’s neither normal nor inevitable for your vision to worsen with each passing year—or to continually need stronger and stronger lenses in order to see. These lenses simply lock your strained vision into place, which—like a cast on your leg—doesn’t allow full muscle function. With natural light, relaxation of your eye muscles, and a different way of looking at the world, you too can have better vision. And maybe—depending upon how well you relax—you might be able to get rid of your glasses altogether!