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Eye Gym - the workout center for reduction of myopia occurrence and progression

Image credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/patient-checking-vision-on-modern-equipment-in-clinic-5752254/

jnikola Jul 26, 2021
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Soon, every second person will need glasses . There are two main reasons for it:
The first one is genetics. The other ones are the advancements in technology, which make more people use mobile phones, computers and generally screens every day. By having everything that we need at the palm of a hand, we do not longer need to see sharply what's 100 meters ahead of us, since we can zoom it in or check it online. Therefore, our muscles and tissues adapt over the years and our eyes become "lazy" due to aging and environmental factors. In addition to our lazy short-sighted eyes, we use lenses to help them become even lazier.

What if we tackled the environmental causes and started training our eyes regularly, similar to what we do with our biceps in gyms? Forget the glasses and contact lenses, here comes the Eye Gym!

The concept

The Eye Gym would be like a regular gym, but much smaller, because it wouldn't require heavy space-consuming equipment. You would pay monthly7yearsly subscription, have personal trainers, health checks and all the utensils. The idea is inspired by the eye gymnastics, that we were obligatory to do every morning in our elementary school.
The Eye Gym would have different "utensils" and "devices" that challenge your sight. For example:
  • one would train the fast focus shift, by moving distance of the focusing object
  • the other one would force you to look really far and read the desired text; every time you could move it a bit further and train your eyes
  • the third one would help you balance your sight on both eyes by shifting the shade from one eye to another and play with text distances
  • the fourth one would "stretch" your eyes by looking up-down-left-right by not moving your head
  • the fifth would train your low-light sight etc.
  • eye relaxation and therapy
The Eye Gyms could not only be helpful in the medical sense, but could also be entertaining (by choosing the desired book or text to read while you exercise) or useful (by choosing the topic you are intereste in, read the today's newspapers, etc). Maybe we could even reduce the increasing occurrence of headaches and migranes !

What do you think?
What other exercises could help?
Could it enable us to see further again?
Could we reduce the progression of myopia?
Would you do it and in what scenario?



Creative contributions

Eye Clinic and Research Center high in the Mountains

jnikola Jul 27, 2021
The idea is inspired by @Spook's post on @Darko Savic's idea about the outdoors helping you save your eyes from nearsightedness.

What if we opened an Eye Clinic and Research Center high up in the mountains and explore and treat conditions like myopia, astigmatism, etc?

The clinic would be located high in the mountains to allow people to enjoy nature, beautiful landscapes, and fresh air, while being able to look very far. Why far? Because the regular Eye Gyms I suggested would have highly limited utensils which would, for example, allow you to switch the focus for several meters. High in the mountains, you would be able to look miles ahead of you without any artificial utensils. Nature would be your main utensil and you could commit all the time spent there to the program. Consequently, the rate of success/progress could be higher.
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Research so far shows correlation but no causal link between screens or eye-strain from near work with myopia, but the idea could still work

salemandreus Aug 03, 2021
There has been a lot of research done into whether eye strain from up-close work and in particular whether working with screens causes myopia.

In terms of the latter, Scishow did a video in 2018 about whether screens can damage your eyes which addresses digital eye strain with the conclusion being that they do not.
Since then there have been more recent and comprehensive study reviews (2020 and 2021), explaining how scientific trials have found a lot of correlation but have been unable to prove causation:
  • https://www.reviewofoptometry.com/article/myopia-screen-time-not-linked in (Published feb 2020)
  • https://reviewofmm.com/what-does-science-say-about-screen-time-and-childhood-myopia/ (published 2021)
  • A paper systematically reviewing 15 studies: (2020)
The review paper in the last link describes the methodology for their systematic review in this way:
"Data from 15 studies which had explored this association was combined with meta-analysis. The more recent studies agreed on an emerging trend of screen time being associated with myopia. Overall, however, the results of this study were mixed and showed screen time was not linked to prevalent and incident myopia."

In terms of Computer Vision Syndrome, the effects are usually not permanent. The treatments listed of resting and refocusing on a more distant point are thus aimed at relieving or preventing the temporary eye strain and headaches.

Despite the inability to prove causation thus far, there is a high correlation of indoor studies and reading or screen use with myopia in childhood development, which is why many optometrists still caution patients against eye strain through taking breaks.

Reduced Vitamin D from lack of outdoor exposure in youngsters established as a causative link
In further studying this correlation it has been established reduced vitamin D from insufficient time spent outdoors in natural sunlight does have a causative relationship in developing myopia:
Here is some more information on this topic:
  • Scishow did a useful high-level breakdown on research into the increase in nearsightedness in 2015.
  • a paper on an experiment done on rhesus monkeys indicating that sunlight helps mitigate the development of myopia.
Interestingly for the earlier topic of eye strain, the SciShow link mentions that computers actually tend to be too far away to fit into the eye strain category, unlike smart phones, tablets and books which are obviously closer - though their video does not seem to factor in other possible factors such as glare and brightness/dimness etc).

Stress-related Myopia as a possible (though rare) candidate
Though the technique of natural vision correction through exercise is debated among eye doctors there still is so far no proof that it works, with the one possible exception being for stress-related myopia,
which the American Optometric Association, although that this is not what is commonly referred to when speaking of myopia.
In that case it seems there are specific eye exercises that would need to be employed, so identifying those from the research would be the key. They describe vision therapy for stress-related myopia in this way:
"Vision therapy is an option for people whose blurred distance vision is caused by a spasm of the muscles that control eye focusing. Various eye exercises can improve poor eye focusing ability and regain clear distance vision"
Mayoclinic mentions that for this type "natural vision exercises that tackle the cause of the problem "can make you less dependent on glasses ... but it helps only a small number of people".
The eye gym might be suitable for this latter demographic though. And for those whose myopia may be due to vitamin D deficiency the outdoor aspect might still be a strong healing factor for the former group.
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"Removing" all unnecessary senses while exercising eyes

jnikola Oct 28, 2021
Since blind people tend to hear, smell and feel the touch better, and deaf people seem to increase their vision, smelling, and touch, would it help if we shut all our senses (except, of course, vision) while doing the eye exercises?
Why do I think so? All the senses' information runs through the brain and uses our computational power. As an answer to what we hear, see or smell, we decide to move, focus, accommodate, etc. I imagine shutting all other senses except vision could help the brain to "focus" on the sight and the eye muscle movement, which could be more beneficial than when all the other senses are working.
When you work out your biceps which is weak, you have more progress when you isolate it than when you do the whole arm workouts, right? If you have just a biceps problem, then that's the quickest way to fix it, right?

The idea
The exercising from the session text and contributions should be done in a soundproof room without attention trapping objects or similar distrations, filled with filtered odourless air. Shubhankar Kulkarni once mentioned sensoric deprivation pools, which would be ideal, but could be very inconvenient and expensive. If no such conditions are available, than the person should wear noise-cancelling headphones and do the exercises.
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General comments

Samuel Bello
Samuel Bello3 years ago
This reference claims that eye exercises do not benefit your eyesight in anyway. Eye exercise can only help with eye comfort if your eyes get irritated easily. (https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-improve-eyesight).
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jnikola3 years ago
Samuel Bello I am glad you noticed this! I was waiting for the moment when someone will comment on it :)

These sentences are one of the reasons I wrote this idea. If you read it carefully, every sentence talking about the benefit of eye gymnastics to certain eye/sight disorders has "probably" or a similar word in it. That's where I started thinking and decided to write an unusual idea of eye gyms, plus, start a discussion on whether these exercises can help.

I think that month or a year of doing these exercises won't help much in an average adult with an eye disorder. But since we are talking about tissue that losses its core abilities and the general structure of the eye becoming deformed, I am keen on believing that, like in every physical disorder, we can physiotherapeutically help the regeneration/prevention by improving the shape of the target/surrounding/supporting tissues. Like in every therapeutic approach, timing matters.

Therefore, my starting hypothesis here would be that some eye conditions, like myopia, can maybe:
- be prevented if applied in a timely matter (young age, while the tissues are developing and most of the myopia develops)
- be stopped from progressing further (if the exercises are applied in the therapeutically important moment)
- be reversed

The last one is really hard to believe in, but with the right approach that combines several therapeutic methods, it could still be possible. The idea behind the Eye Gym is to make the eye workout a cool viral thing. That would be a nice fun trend and a useful experiment to see if the rate of myopia development/progression changed.

The thing that irritates me the most is that we are rather keen on investing money in glasses, contact lenses, and operations to restore vision, rather than in training our eyes or discovering the cause of the condition. It's like promoting liposuctions for the fat people and not guiding them to a healthier lifestyle, or regularly implementing stents and not promoting sports and more physical activity. I know eyewear is a giant business, but in that case, consider my idea as a wake-up call for all the people spending money on it.

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