Defective vision is a common problem nowadays. The main reasons for eye defects are reading in a bad light (either too dim or excessively bright ), excessive reading, reading in moving trains, buses, or cars, watching too much television, seeing too many films, and eating artificial food. The popular belief that the use of spectacles can rectify all cases of defective vision is based on the assumption that such defects are caused by permanent changes in the eyes. This assumption is not correct as defective vision results from functional derangements which can be rectified by simple natural methods of treatment.
Persons who are prescribed glasses are told that they should avoid taking them off because of the danger of eye strain and that they should always look straight through the center of the lens. So, when looking in other directions they do not move their eyeballs and eye muscles as is natural, but instead, move their heads up and down or sideways. Thus, constant use of glasses throws the whole natural process of vision out of gear and causes ‘parking’ of the eyes. Gradually, the muscles of the eyes degenerate through non-use. Moreover, the use of glasses results in a reduction of blinking which is a movement intended to assist and preserve eyesight. Wearing glasses for many years results in stiff, dull-looking eyes without any sparkle.
Causes of Defective Vision
The three chief causes of defective vision are mental strain, wrong diet, and improper blood and nerve supply.
Mental strain: Dr. W.H. Bates, the founder of revolutionary methods of eye treatment, considers mental strain to be the cause of all defects of vision, which puts corresponding physical strain on the eyes, their muscles, and nerves. In his opinion, the lesser defects are mainly due to mental strain owing to overwork, fear, anxiety, etc. In pursuance of this theory, Dr. Bates has concentrated his efforts on methods of treatment that will remove the condition of mental strain.
Wrong Feeding: The eye is a part of the body and as such must share in any condition affecting the system. Most of the diseases affecting the eyes are symptoms of a general toxemic condition of the body due mainly to excessive starch, sugar, and protein ingestion. The muscles and blood vessels surrounding the eyes share in the clogging process taking place over the body due to improper metabolism caused by an imbalanced and too-concentrated diet.
Improper blood and nerve supply: The eyes need to be properly supplied with blood and nerve force for proper vision. Any factor capable of interfering either with the blood vessels or with the nerves of the eyes could cause defective vision. The muscles covering the upper portion of the spine at the back of the neck are the main seat of the mechanical interference with the blood and nerve supply to the eyes.
The Cure for Defective Vision
The following exercises will loosen the strained and contracted muscles surrounding the eyes :
- Keep your head still and relaxed. Gently move the eyes up and down six times. Repeat the same movement twice or thrice at two-second intervals The eyes should move slowly and regularly as far down as possible and then as far up as possible.
- Move the eyes from side to side as far as possible, without any force or effort six times. Repeat two or three times.
- Hold the index finger of your right hand about eight inches in front of the eyes, then look from the finger to any other large object ten or more feet away – the door or window will do. Look from one to the other ten times. Do this exercise fairly rapidly.
- Move the eyes up gently and slowly in a circle, then move them low in the reverse direction. Do this four times in all. Rest for a second and repeat the movements two or three times, using minimum effort. All eye muscle exercises should be performed while seated in a comfortable position.
Rotate the neck in circles and semi-circles.
- move the shoulders clockwise and anti-clockwise briskly, drawing them up as far as possible several times,
- allow the head to draw forward and backward as far as possible,
- Turn the head to the right and left as far as possible several times. These exercises help to loosen up contracted neck muscles which may restrict blood supply to the head.
Sit on a bench facing the sun with your eyes closed and gently sway sideways several times for 18 minutes. Open your eyes and blink about ten times at the sun and look at some greenery. This helps short-sightedness and is good for inflamed eyes.
Splash plain, cold water several times with closed eyes. Rub the closed lids briskly for a minute with a clean towel. This cools the eyes and boosts the blood supply.
Sit comfortably in an armchair or on a settee and relax with your eyes closed. Cover your eyes with your palms, the right palm over the right eye, and the left over the left eye. Do not, however, press down on the eyes. With your eyes completely covered in this manner, allow your elbows to drop to your knees, which should be fairly close together. With your eyes closed thus, try to imagine blackness, which grows blacker and blacker. Palming reduces strain and relaxes the eyes and their surrounding tissues.
Stand with your feet 12 inches apart, hands held loosely at the sides, the whole body and mind relaxed. Gently sway your body from side to side, slowly, steadily, with the heels rising alternatively but not the rest of the foot. Imagine you are the pendulum of the clock and move just as slowly. Swinging should be done in front of a window or a picture. You will see the object moving in the opposite direction of your swing. This must be noted and encouraged.
When you face one end of the window or object, blink once. This exercise has a very beneficial effect on the eyes and nervous system.
Natural, uncooked foods are the best diet. These include fresh fruits, such as oranges, apples, grapes, peaches, plums, and cherries; green vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, spinach, and turnip tops; root vegetables like potatoes, turnips, carrots, onions, and beetroots; nuts, dried fruits, and dairy products.
Cereals are also necessary, but they should only be consumed sparingly. Genuine wholemeal bread is the best and most suitable. Nans, cakes, pastries, white sugar, white bread, confectionary, tea, coffee, etc., together with meat, fish, or eggs, soon play havoc with the digestion and the body.
The value of vitamin A for improving vision must be stressed. The intake of sufficient quantities of this vitamin is essential as a safeguard against or treatment of defective vision or eye disease of any kind. The best sources of this vitamin are cod liver oil, raw spinach, turnip tops, cream, cheese, butter, egg yolk, tomatoes, lettuce, carrot, cabbage, soya beans, green peas, wheat germ, fresh milk, oranges, and dates.
Yogic exercises :
The four yogic exercises prescribed for strengthening the optic nerve known as ‘trataka’ as explained in chapter 7 on yoga therapy should be practiced daily. Certain yogasanas such as bhujangasana, shalabhasana, yogamudra, paschimottan asana and kriyas like jalneti are also beneficial for the eyes.