Can you really train your eyes to see better?

A new video claims that you can improve your sight with `eyerobics'. Colette Harris takes a beady look

If you suffer from long, short or failing sight, you're probably resigned to either wearing glasses or contact lenses or saving up for laser surgery. Improving your sight by exercising your eyes might seem pretty implausible. But a number of ophthalmologists believe that an exercise programme based on something called the Bates Method may keep eyes in better shape. A new video, chucklingly entitled Eyerobics, and endorsed by Dr Robert-Michael Kaplan of Pacific University's College of Optometry in Portland, Oregon, provides a guide to the technique.

Dr William Bates was a New York ophthalmologist who decided more than 80 years ago that if eyes respond to glasses by getting weaker, or lazier, the muscles around the eyes were the key factor in poor vision. He found that an enormous amount of tension builds up in and around the eyes, causing problems with their function. So, the Bates Method is about relaxing those muscles in order to restore good circulation, which helps to improve the eyes' efficiency, which then leads to less stressed usage of the eye and therefore to a more relaxed muscle. The three fundamental exercises from the Bates method are "sunning", which involves shining a bright light on closed eyes; "palming", which is covering the eyes with cupped hands, resting the palm on the top of the cheekbones; and "the long standing swing", which is keeping your eyes focused as you turn back and forth from left to right.

Conditions such as astigmatism, long and short-sightedness, as well as weakening sight, have been improved and sometimes cured by the Bates method, and clinical trials by Dr Kaplan appear to prove its effectiveness. British eye specialists, however, are unconvinced. Dr David Gartrey, ophthalmic consultant at Moorfields Eye Hospital, argues "The Bates Method has no scientific basis whatsoever. No studies looking at patients before and during treatment, as well as after, have been carried out. Until results from such a study are published, it's nonsense."

Some of the principles of the Bates Method are already accepted by mainstream eye care. The idea that the eyes need the same care and stress relief as the rest of the body has been developed in various ways, not least as a part of a discipline called behavioural optometry, which is fast gaining popularity in the UK. In this system, vision is considered to be an inseparable part of the whole human being, and therefore easily affected by behaviour, our environment, stress and the mental connection between eyes and brain.

"Vision links in with the other senses," says behavioural optometrist Paul Adler. "Balance, spatial perception, mismatches in seeing and hearing can all lead to confusion and mixed messages between the eyes and brain. We use visual therapy to fix problems such as inadequate focusing, for instance in squints. I recently cured one little chap who had already had two operations for a squint and was on the waiting list for a third. We found his main problem was stress and when we worked with that and his eye co-ordination he was better in six weeks."

You can also improve your sight by popping a food supplement designed for eyes. They include FSC Lutein Eye Formula with zinc and marigold extract (pounds 8.99/30 capsules, for stockists call 01204 573298), Bilberry gingko eyebright and lutein complex from Solgar (pounds 18.49 for 60 capsules, for stockists call 01442 890355) and Ocuvite with antioxidants A, C, E and zinc (pounds 8/60 tablets, for stockists and mail order call 01329 224124). Meanwhile, pump those irises.

For more details, contact the Secretary of the British Society of Behavioural Optometrists, Lyn Price, on 01277 624916. National Eye Week starts tomorrow. For the helpline, call 0891 633491.

News
Howard Marks has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer, he has announced
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has spoken about the lack of opportunities for black British actors in the UK
film
Voices
Winston Churchill, then prime minister, outside No 10 in June 1943
voicesA C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
News
Rowan Atkinson at the wheel of his McLaren F1 GTR sports car
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Austen Lloyd: Private Client Solicitor - Oxford

    Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: OXFORD - REGIONAL FIRM - An excellent opportu...

    Austen Lloyd: Clinical Negligence Associate / Partner - Bristol

    Super Package: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - SENIOR CLINICAL NEGLIGENCE - An outstan...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - Solar Energy - OTE £50,000

    £15000 - £50000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Fantastic opportunities are ava...

    Recruitment Genius: Compute Engineer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Compute Engineer is required to join a globa...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq invasion 2003: The bloody warnings six wise men gave to Tony Blair as he prepared to launch poorly planned campaign

    What the six wise men told Tony Blair

    Months before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, experts sought to warn the PM about his plans. Here, four of them recall that day
    25 years of The Independent on Sunday: The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century

    25 years of The Independent on Sunday

    The stories, the writers and the changes over the last quarter of a century
    Homeless Veterans appeal: 'Really caring is a dangerous emotion in this kind of work'

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    As head of The Soldiers' Charity, Martin Rutledge has to temper compassion with realism. He tells Chris Green how his Army career prepared him
    Wu-Tang Clan and The Sexual Objects offer fans a chance to own the only copies of their latest albums

    Smash hit go under the hammer

    It's nice to pick up a new record once in a while, but the purchasers of two latest releases can go a step further - by buying the only copy
    Geeks who rocked the world: Documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry

    The geeks who rocked the world

    A new documentary looks back at origins of the computer-games industry
    Belle & Sebastian interview: Stuart Murdoch reveals how the band is taking a new direction

    Belle & Sebastian is taking a new direction

    Twenty years ago, Belle & Sebastian was a fey indie band from Glasgow. It still is – except today, as prime mover Stuart Murdoch admits, it has a global cult following, from Hollywood to South Korea
    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    America: Land of the free, home of the political dynasty

    These days in the US things are pretty much stuck where they are, both in politics and society at large, says Rupert Cornwell
    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A graphic history of US civil rights – in comic book form

    A veteran of the Fifties campaigns is inspiring a new generation of activists
    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    Winston Churchill: the enigma of a British hero

    A C Benson called him 'a horrid little fellow', George Orwell would have shot him, but what a giant he seems now, says DJ Taylor
    Growing mussels: Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project

    Growing mussels

    Precious freshwater shellfish are thriving in a unique green project
    Diana Krall: The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai

    Diana Krall interview

    The jazz singer on being friends with Elton John, outer space and skiing in Dubai
    Pinstriped for action: A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter

    Pinstriped for action

    A glimpse of what the very rich man will be wearing this winter
    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: 'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'

    Russell T Davies & Ben Cook: How we met

    'Our friendship flourished online. You can share some very revelatory moments at four in the morning…'
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef serves up his favourite Japanese dishes

    Bill Granger's Japanese recipes

    Stock up on mirin, soy and miso and you have the makings of everyday Japanese cuisine
    Michael Calvin: How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    How we need more Eric Cantonas to knock some sense into us