8 June 2009
The Claim: Eye Exercises Can Enhance Your Vision.
For almost a century, eye exercises have been promoted as a way to strengthen vision and ease nearsightedness and astigmatism, much like exercise for the body trims fat and improves health.
Some of the most popular techniques include eye-hand coordination drills, eye movement routines and focusing on blinking lights. The techniques are widely promoted online and advocated by various companies, some even claiming that they can reduce the need for glasses and ease learning disabilities. But several studies have concluded that many of these do-it-yourself techniques are baseless.
One of the latest studies, published in 2009, found little evidence in support of vision exercises that supposedly slow or reduce myopia, ease dyslexia and correct conditions caused by physiological problems, like blurred vision. A similar conclusion had been reached in a 2005 report that reviewed 43 previous studies, finding “no clear scientific evidence” for most of the methods reviewed.
But there are some areas of vision therapy that have been scientifically validated, including one called orthoptics. In this therapy, eye doctors prescribe exercises that can relieve double vision, focus problems and conditions like strabismus, also known as crossed eyes. Orthoptics can treat convergence insufficiency, in which the eyes have trouble working together. It affects as many as 1 in 5 people, but with the right exercises it can be all but cured, studies show.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Eye exercises are useful for some problems, but they do not seem to relieve myopia or dyslexia.