Defective vision is a common problem nowadays. The main reasons for eye defects are reading in 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 centre of the lens. So, when looking in other directions they do not move their eye balls and eye muscles as is natural, but instead move head 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 eye sight. Wearing glasses for many years results in stiff, dull-looking eyes without any sparkle.
The three chief causes of defective vision are mental strain, wrong diet and improper blood and nerve supply.
i. 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 over work, fear, anxiety, etc. In pursuance of this theory, Dr. Bates has concentrated his efforts on methods of treatment which will remove the condition of mental strain.
ii. 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.
iii. 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.
Eye exercise : The following exercises will loosen the strained and contracted muscles surrounding the eyes :
i. 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.
ii. Move the eyes from side to side as far as possible, without any force or effort six times. Repeat two or three times.
iii. 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.
iv. 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 efforts. All eye muscle exercises should be performed while seated in a comfortable position.
Sun gazing : Sit on a bench facing the sun with your eyes closed and gently sway sideways several times for 18 minutes. Open the eyes and blink about ten times at the sun and look at some greenery. This helps shortsight and is good for inflamed eyes.
Splashing : Splash plain, cold water several times on closed eyes. Rub the closed lids briskly for a minute with a clean towel. This cools the eyes and boosts blood supply.
Palming : Sit comfortably in an armchair or on a settee and relax with your eyes closed. Cover your eyes with your palsm, right palm over the right eye and 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 its surrounding tissues.
Swinging : 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 endof the window or object, blink once. This exercise has a very beneficial effect upon the eyes and nervous system.
Natural, uncooked foods are the best diet. These include fresh fruits, such as oranges, apples,grapes,peaches, plums, cherries ; green vegetable like lettuce, cabbage, spinach, turnip tops ;root vegetables like potatoes, turnips, carrot, onions and beetroots ; nuts, dried fruits and dairyproducts.Cereals are also necessary , but they should only be consumed sparingly. Genuine wholemealbread 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 thedigestion and the body.The value of vitamin A for improving vision must be stressed. The intake of sufficient quantitiesof this vitamin is essential as a safeguard against or treatment of defective vision or eye diseaseof 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, wheatgerm,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 practised daily. Certain yogasanas such as bhujangasana, shalabhasana, yogamudra, paschimottan asana and kriyas like jalneti are also
beneficial for the eyes.