Of our five senses, the ability to see is probably our most heavily relied on sense. It is the filter through which we perceive the world around us. That's why when our vision starts to change as we age, our world does as well.
The good news is, like so many other degenerative conditions, exercise can help a lot. You can literally spend five minutes a day doing one or two Qigong Exercises for Better Vision and turn back the clock on those tired, blurry peepers.
What muscles focus our eyes?
The lens of our eyes is made up of a highly specialized transparent protein membrane that is pulled and stretched by several tiny muscles to focus our vision. The muscles acting on the eyes fall into two basic categories.
Muscles that move the eye - There are seven extraocular muscles – the levator palpebrae superioris, superior rectus, inferior rectus, medial rectus, lateral rectus, the inferior oblique and superior oblique. These muscles allow your eye to track and follow visual stimuli.
Muscles that focus the eye - The focusing of the eye is controlled by the ciliary muscle, which can change the thickness and curvature of the lens.
Like the strength(qigong for leg strength) of all other muscles, if you don’t use it you lose it! When we are young everything is new and exciting, so we are constantly changing our focus as we explore the world around us. But as we age we tend to focus more on just what is a few feet in front of us, and that lack of stimulation leads the eye muscles to weaken.
Now we add our ever-present PHONE into the mix. Our eyes are now focused in a particular direction, at a particular distance for excessive periods of time. Not to mention the small rapid movements of “scrolling” serve to strain the eye(Acupressure to relieve eye strain) from partial repetitive contractions.
Whether due to the natural ageing process or the phone zombie apocalypse, our eyes really need some loving attention.
What are the most important vitamins for eye health?
Vitamin A - tops the list as the most important vitamin for the health of your eyes. Whether it's maintaining a clear cornea or staving off night blindness, including foods high in vitamin A, like sweet potatoes and dark green vegetables is a must.
Vitamin E and C - are both important antioxidants that can offset the oxidative damage due to free radicals in the body. Including foods like nuts, seeds, avocado and citrus fruits will ensure you cover your antioxidant bases.
B Complex Vitamin - B6, B9 and B12, all help keep your eyes happy and healthy by reducing specific inflammatory reactions in the eyes. Once again you're dark green leafy to the rescue and a sprinkle of wild-caught salmon here and there will get the job done.
What can your eyes tell you about your health?
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the eyes are truly a window to the soul. TCM states that the relative health of the Shen “spirit or soul” is revealed in the appearance of the eyes. When a patient with chronic illness or injury presents to a TCM practitioner with a lack of lustre and shine to their eyes, this is a sign that the disharmony has consumed their vital Qi.
The health of all five major organs in the body is reflected by certain physical manifestations in and around the eyes.
The Yellow Emperor's Classic of Chinese Medicine states that:
“The eyes indicate the sufficiency of jing /essence. When the eyes degenerate in function, this indicates that the jing is exhausted.”
~Huang Di Neijing~
It is said;
The Liver opens to the eyes- The liver acupuncture meridian connects directly with the eyes, so any functional issues of the eye, and more specifically movement of the eye, show signs of potential liver(qigong for stress) disharmony.
The heart moves the blood to the eye - The inner and outer canthus (corner of the eye) can reflect the state of blood production. A pale canthus shows signs of blood deficiency.
The upper and lower lids of the eyes are nourished by the stomach and spleen - Swelling or redness to the lids shows signs of possible heat or problems with water metabolism within those organs.
Kidney transforms the water of the eye - dark purple circles around the eyes show signs of kidney disharmony.
Can Qigong eye exercises improve vision?
So just like all other muscles of the body, we need to condition the muscles of the eyes on a regular basis so they don’t atrophy leading to blurred vision and other dysfunctions. The normal distance of focus at close range, which is known as “the near point” is 14 inches from your eye.
Next time you are reading a book, get out your trusty measuring tape and see at what distance from your eye are you most comfortable reading. If holding your book 14 inches away from your eye leaves you with a blurry page you have two choices, give in and buy some reading glasses….or start exercising your eyes!!!
Qigong Eye Exercise for Better Vision
This is where doing some Qigong eye exercises can really help. There are many eye focusing exercises that are used in qigong practice, but one exercise I have used with my patients for many years that always makes a difference is from the Wuji Qigong set called “Awn”.
The exercise incorporates a series of arm movements where the practitioner focuses on the thumbnail as it moves through changes in distance and direction as well as rapidly moving from close up to distance focus.
The exercise is not only a fantastic shoulder workout but is a wonderful vision stimulator. The exercise can be performed for 3-5 minutes a day, and within a couple of weeks, you will be able to notice distinct changes in your vision.
My goal, as always, is to give people tools to take better care of themselves. Nobody needs any practitioner of any kind…all the time! A big part of my practice is teaching people self-care. When they can't, my answer is “book an appointment with me!”
Personally, I find that when I’ve been doing a lot of computer work and my eyes are feeling strained and tired, I have two go-to remedies. One is my Acupressure for Eyestrain program and the other is of course my fav qigong exercise for better vision…. Give it a try!
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