Defective vision is a common problem in children 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 foods.
The popular belief that the use of spectacles could rectify all cases of defective vision is based onthe 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 methods of treatment.
The three main causes of defective vision are mental strain, wrong food habits and improper blood and nerve supply. Mental strain puts corresponding physical strain on the eyes, their muscles and nerves. The lesser defects are mainly due to mental strain owing to overwork, fear and anxiety.
The eyes are a part ofthe body and as such must share in any condition affecting the system. Most of the diseases affecting the eyes are symptoms of general toxamic condition of the body mainly due to ingestion of excessive starch, sugar and protein. The muscles and blood levels surrounding the eyes share in the clogging process taking place over the body due to improper metabolism caused by an imbalanced and concentrated diet.
The eyes need to be properly supplied with blood and nerve force for proper vision. Any factor capable of interfering either with the bloodvessles 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 knee are the main seat of mechanical interference with the blood and nerve supply to the eyes.
The Cure Exercises : The foremost consideration in the treatment of defective vision is to loosen the strained and contracted muscles surrounding the eyes. The following eye, neck and shoulder exercises will help in achieving this objective :
Keep your head still and relax. 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 of 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 movement two or three times, using minimum effort. All eye muscles exercises should be performed while seated in a comfortable position, rotte the neck (a) in circles and semi-circles , (b) move the shoulders clock-wise and anti-clockwise briskly, drawing them up as far as possible several times (c) allow the head to drop forward and backward as far as possible, (d) return 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.
Sungazing : Sit on a bench facing the sun with your eyes closed and gently sway sideways several times for eithteen minutes. Open the eyes and blink about 10 times at the sun and look at some greenery. This helps to cure shortsightedness 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 palm, right palm over the right eye and left over the left eye. Do not, however, press down on the eyes. With your eyes closed, try to imagine blackness, which grows blacker and blacker. Palming 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 a 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 upon the eyes and nervous system.
Yogic Exercises ( Trataka) In yoga, four exercises have been prescribed for strengthening weak eye muscles, relieving eye strain and curing of eye disease. They are known as ‘ Trataka’ which in Sanskrit means ‘winkless gaze at a particular point ‘, or looking at an object with awareness.
The four trataks are : Dakshinayjatru trataka in which, with face forwards, the eyes are fixed on the tip of the right shoulder, Vamajatru trataka, in which the eyes are fixed on the tip of the left shoulder, Namikagra trtaka, in which the eyes are focussed on the tip of the nose, and Bhrumadhya trataka, in which the eyes are focussed on the space between the eye brows. This exercises should be practicised from a meditative position like padmasana or vajrasana. The gaze should be maintained for as long as you are comfortable , gradually increasing the period from 10 to 20 and then 30 seconds. The eyes should be closed and rested after each exercise. Persons with acute myopia should perform the tratakas with their eyes closed.
Natural, uncooked foods are the best diet. These include fresh fruits such as oranges, apples, grapes, peaches, plums, cherries, green vegetables like lettuce, cabbage, spinach, turnip tops, root vegetables like potatoes, turnips, carrot, onions and beet roots, 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, whie sugar, white bread, confectionery, 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 ths vitamin are cod-liver oil, raw spinach, turnip tops, cream, cheese, butter, egg yolk, tomatoes, lettuce, carrot, cabbage, soya beans, green peas, whet germ, fresh milk, oranges and dates.