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Health care’s focus is changing – it’s becoming more preventive. Doctors advocate that patients adopt behaviors to reduce the risk of illnesses and age-related conditions, like healthy eating and exercise. This trend extends to eye health.

People who care about their vision are purchasing sunglasses with protective UV lenses and committing to regular checkups with their eye doctors. Some have even turned to eye exercise programs to improve their eyesight and reduce the need for glasses and contacts.

The premise of eye exercises is that eyes respond to exercise like a muscle, and with consistent “workouts” a person’s eyesight will improve. Eye exercises may include things like shifting the vision’s focus from an object that is a few inches away to another object that is further away, or rubbing the eyes to keep the surface of the eyeball pliable.

But do these so-called “vision improvement exercises” really work? The American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) states that eye exercises cannot improve nearsightedness, farsightedness or correct astigmatisms.

Eye exercises don’t help vision problems caused by age or disease, but there are lifestyle behaviors and routines you can adopt to keep your eyes healthy and maintain the vision you have:

  • Eat an eye-healthy diet full of nutrients like zinc, lutein, omega-3 fatty acids and Vitamins C and E to ward off age-related vision problems like cataracts and macular degeneration.
  • If you smoke, quit as soon as possible, since research shows us that smokers double their chance of forming cataracts and are three-times more likely to develop age-related macular degeneration compared to non-smokers.
  • Reduce eyestrain by following the 20-20-20 rule: look at something 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds every 20 minutes while using a computer or watching television.
  • Visit your eye doctor regularly to spot early signs of eye diseases that have no symptoms, like glaucoma, and to get recommendations on treating any vision problems you may experience.

Vision Correction with Vision Therapy

Although eye exercises are not effective at improving vision or treating diseases of the eye, vision training may be effective for individuals who are experiencing learning challenges related to poor vision.

Vision training, or vision therapy (sometimes called VT), is used to help train the eyes and the brain to work more effectively.

The AAO says that VT can be helpful for children who have convergence insufficiency. This condition occurs when the eyes focus on a nearby object. The eyes don’t work together to see things that are close, which makes reading difficult. Students with this disorder may develop an aversion to reading.

The AAO says that there is scientific evidence that indicates that VT is effective in improving learning challenges associated with convergence insufficiency. Although the exercises are said to improve physiological neuromuscular and perceptual dysfunctions that affect vision systems, it does not improve vision quality or all learning disabilities.

Vision correction with LASIK Eye Surgery

The only existing methods that are proven to improve vision are corrective lenses and vision correction procedures such as LASIK eye surgery. If you are counting on eye exercises to improve eyesight to reduce your reliance on lenses, the evidence shows that it won’t work. You may want to lean toward a proven method of improving visual acuity without corrective lenses is LASIK eye surgery.

Fortunately, it’s also the most common eye surgery procedure in the U.S. LASIK corrects nearsightedness and other refractive errors by changing the shape of the cornea or lens.

The statistics indicate that 8 out of 10 people no longer need corrective lenses after they’ve undergone LASIK eye surgery. Many patients also achieve 20/25 vision or better after refractive, or LASIK, surgery.

Because LASIK surgery is so widely performed, there are few risks to the procedure. As with all surgical procedures, there is the possibility of infections or complications, but these are exceedingly rare with LASIK.

Are You a Good Candidate for LASIK?

The procedure is FDA-approved for patients who are 18 years or older. If you have diabetes, an autoimmune disease, eye injuries or dry eye, your surgeon may recommend that you choose another solution to correct your vision. We offer a free LASIK self-evaluation test to help you decide if LASIK is right for you.

Are you ready to talk with an informed ophthalmologist about correcting your vision for good?  Contact the eye experts at Southwestern Eye Center and schedule your LASIK consultation today.