What would happen if you practiced focusing your vision in and out?
November 23, 2010 8:07 AM   Subscribe

What would happen if you practiced focusing your vision in and out? Would you strain your eyes?

Just wondering because sometimes I sit around and play with my vision in different ways. Sometimes I shift my focus from far to close to see what things look like, and I also like to do the thing to my vision that people do when they look at 'magic' pictures to pop the 3d image out.

Maybe if you're lucky, instead of harming your eyes, you make them focus faster and stronger.
posted by bleary to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have focusing problems (speed mostly) and my eye doc gave me a set of exercises to do that included things like this. Especially focusing on something far away, focusing on something close, repeat multiple times per day. Going in and out of focus repeatedly. This was designed to help my eyes focus close more quickly.
posted by magnetsphere at 8:10 AM on November 23, 2010

Eye strain generally comes from keeping your eyes focused at a set distance for long periods of time (i.e. staring at a computer screen or doing very detailed fine work like needlework or jewellery). Low light levels (relative to what you're looking at) make things worse.

So no, I don't think consciously focusing your eyes at different focal lengths will hurt them - as you say, it'd probably strengthen the muscle. In fact, I seem to remember it being an anti-eye-strain exercise.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:11 AM on November 23, 2010

I remember seeing a baseball story about Edgar Martinez . He played 17 years in MLB and retired with 2247 hits and a .312 batting average. He developed a set of eye exercises just like this. He would hold up a card or pen, focus on something father away and immediately focus on something closer, then focus on the thing in his hand. He credited these exercises with his well known hitters eye and great batting average.
posted by sanka at 8:13 AM on November 23, 2010

As I've aged, I've found it more difficult to adjust my focus, and bifocals may soon be necessary. I wondered whether exercises could help, but my eye doc insists that current research says they don't work.
posted by jon1270 at 8:21 AM on November 23, 2010

It's been my lay experience that my eyes do best when I just let them do their work autonomically. The best exercise is that which allows the eyes a bit of rest, rather than manipulation. The eye muscles are not large skeletal muscles that can benefit from loads like your biceps or something. Try cupping your eyes with your hands to give them a few minutes of darkness and infinite focus. I find this is not only very relaxing but it somehow seems to reset my vision and the things I was looking at are seen anew.
posted by Burhanistan at 8:27 AM on November 23, 2010

> you make them focus faster and stronger.

My eye doctor told me that no, eye muscles don't work like that.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:48 AM on November 23, 2010

I actually have a cousin who was able to stop wearing glasses through doing a set of eye exercises like focusing close and then at a distance. (His vision wasn't terrible to begin with.) So, from that little anecdote, I doubt that it would hurt your eyes and might actually help them. The exercises were given to him by his eye doctor, so no web resource about exactly what he did.
posted by stoneweaver at 9:30 AM on November 23, 2010

My optometrist (when I was a teen) used to make me do focusing exercises (basically: hold one finger a couple of inches from your nose, and another about 18" away, and switch focus from one to another, repeatedly), in order to mitigate myopia. Since I've attained adulthood, I no longer get this advice, so maybe I'm too far gone, or maybe it's a time-limited thing.
posted by pompomtom at 2:33 PM on November 23, 2010

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