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September 27th, 2006

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Easy and Effective Exercises to relieve Eyestrain   
by: Vasanthi Bhat (vasanthi@indolink.com)

Health care and glasses linked to computer use costs companies and employers nearly $2 billion a year - American Optometric Association, USA Today, February 11, 1999

75% of video screen users reported occasional aching or burning eyes at work - National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health finding, USA Today, February 11, 1999

Do your eyes get tired watching computer screens/TV screens?
Do you get headaches working with computers?
Do you think that you are suffering from insomnia?
Do you think that eye exercises take hours of practice?
Try these eye exercises taken from Vasanthi´s "Yoga For Eyes" Video. They can be practiced anytime of the day even while taking a half minute break from your work. These exercises have helped many children, computer professionals and senior people.

Exercise 1: This simple exercise relaxes and relieves tension from the optic nerves.
Open your eyes wide and look up.
Hold it for 5-10 seconds.
Close your eyes and squeeze your eyes.
Hold it for 3-5 seconds.
Repeat as you please.

Exercise 2: This practice relaxes the optic nerves and helps improve eyesight.
Holding your head straight look to your right, and hold the position for about 5 seconds. Repeat the movement looking to your left, looking up, and down.

Exercise 3: This practice lubricates and soothes dry eyes. Improves eyesight.
Place a tip of your index finger between the eyebrows.
Looking at the finger tip, slowly move the finger to the tip of your nose without blinking.
By this time eyes release tears naturally and you feel like blinking.
Repeat few times.

Note: Sometimes you may feel like blinking your eyes as you practice, as your eyes release tears quickly. For some it takes many practices to feel the benefits if the eyes are very dry.

Vasanthi Bhat´s simple, yet very effective “YOGA FOR THE EYES” video is specially helpful for people who work long hours at the computer or people with weak vision, as well as people who read and write a lot. These exercises are highly beneficial and also proven to relieve headaches and insomnia. Also effective for those who want to improve their eyesight and prevent old-age eye disturbances. Best of all, unlike yoga postures, eye exercises can be practiced any time, even after a heavy meal!


Vasanthi Bhat is an internationally recognized yoga teacher, author, publisher, and producer. She is also the founder of Vasantha Yoga Health and Fitness Center in San Jose, California. She has been practicing and teaching yoga for over 22 years.

Vasanthi has produced a series of Video tapes, audio CDs, and has written several books.

For more information visit: http://www.indolink.com/Vasantha

http://www.indolink.com/Health/Yoga/yoga3.html

August 14th, 2006

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Ok, I'm finding that my eyes are getting slightly better.

I'm palming a lot, and yesterday, I went out to the pool and laid in the sun for a few minutes, not to get tan, but so my eyes could feel the warmth of the sun on them.  My eyes loved it.

I'm trying to look around a lot more and take more breaks from the computer, and I'll be buying some more similasan dry eyes remedies at the store when I go shopping later.  Using eyedrops is also helping me a lot.

August 13th, 2006

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Study to focus on macular degeneration

Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Regina McEnery
Plain Dealer Reporter

We should be listening to Bugs Bunny - and, of course, to our mothers.

To protect our eyes, we should be eating carrots, spinach, zucchini and other brightly colored vegetables that pack a lot of nutrition. These veggies have captured the attention of researchers trying to prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness in seniors.

Dozens of patients from Cleveland will be part of a $35 million study on preventing macular degeneration. The study is one of the largest and most expensive undertaken by the National Eye Institute. With millions of baby boomers headed for retirement and people living longer, there is pressure to find the cause of the disease. The number of people over the age of 65 afflicted with macular degeneration is expected to jump from 32 million in 2000 to an estimated 71 million by 2030, government statistics show.

"Studies like this might allow us to stem the epidemic of disease," said Dr. Lawrence Singerman, an eye researcher based in Beachwood who devotes much of his practice to macular degeneration.

The research project, which will involve more than 4,000 patients, is known as the Age-Related Disease Study, or AREDS II.

It's the second phase of an effort that explored the value of vitamins in reducing the risk of eye diseases such as macular degeneration and of cataracts, also associated with old age.

This round of research will single out zeaxanthin and lutein, nutrients known as carotenoids that are found in brightly colored vegetables and fruits.

Beta carotene is the most recognizable carotenoid, but zeaxanthin and lutein have created a bigger buzz among ophthalmologists because they are found in the macula, an oval yellow spot near the heart of the retina that breaks down in those with macular degeneration.

The AREDS II study begins this fall and is enrolling patients now.

"We knew these carotenoids were probably important," said Dr. Peter Kaiser, a retina specialist at the Cleveland Clinic who will participate in the new study. "So it made sense that they must play a role in preventing damage."

Along with examining the effects of zeaxanthin and lutein, the study will look at omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in salmon and tuna.

Ophthalmologists are not inclined to speculate about the long-range outcomes of the research, which will be carried out over five years. But they remain cautiously optimistic. In the first five-year Age-Related Disease Study, which started in 1992 and accepted its last enrollee in 1998, a multivitamin supplement produced unexpectedly positive results.

Researchers found that a cocktail of beta carotene, vitamins C and E, and zinc was associated with a 25 percent reduction in the risk of the less common but more severe form of the disease, known as wet age-related macular degeneration, according to Dr. Emily Chew, deputy director of the division of epidemiology and clinical research at the National Eye Institute. "You're saving potentially 300,000 people from getting [macular degeneration]," said Chew. "That's fantastic."

She said that if the risk could be reduced further with zeaxanthin and lutein, it could help more people steer clear of a disease that is difficult to treat.

In June, the Food and Drug Administration approved Lucentis for patients with advanced macular degeneration. The drug slows progression of the disease by inhibiting proteins associated with the growth of abnormal blood vessels in the eye. The vessels leak blood and fluid, causing severe vision loss. While the drug was heralded as the most effective yet for people with the wet form of macular degeneration, there is virtually nothing that works against the more-common, less-debilitating dry form.

And the eye treatments can be intimidating for elderly patients. Lucentis, for instance, must be injected into the eye four times over three months. It's also expensive. One shot of Lucentis costs about $1,950 wholesale; Macugen, a predecessor to Lucentis, costs around $995 per injection.

At age 77, Mary Hotchkiss already has had cataracts and a torn retina, but it was her early stage of macular degeneration that prompted Singerman to suggest joining the prevention study. Hotchkiss thought things looked clear enough, but a simple test that Singerman gives to many of his elderly patients suggested otherwise.

Hotchkiss said she was asked to cover her right eye and look at a grid with crisscrossed black lines that resemble a graph. "In my opinion I see good, but the lines didn't look completely straight in one little section," said Hotchkiss.

The lines appeared jagged because tiny yellowish deposits known as drusen had begun to collect in Hotchkiss' eye, blurring her vision. The distortion hadn't worsened or changed over time, noted Singerman. But because the deposits are a precursor to macular degeneration, Hotchkiss was persuaded to join the vitamin prevention study.

Singerman says revolutionary changes in the treatment of macular degeneration could ultimately protect and preserve the eyesight of Americans well into their twilight years. "We've come a long way since the early 1980s, when the only thing you could offer patients were lasers," said Singerman.

But refining ways to prevent macular degeneration would be even better, experts agree.

Dr. Suber Huang, vice chairman of the ophthalmology department and director of clinical research at University Hospitals' Case Medical Center, said that aside from benefiting patients, the prevention strategies being studied are gold for scientists trying to understand what causes people to develop age-related macular degeneration.

But he cautioned that vitamins are hardly a silver bullet. "Even if it's good for the group as a whole, there may be individuals who have unwanted side effects" from the vitamins, he said. "But this study," he added, "has made every attempt to select doses that are likely to be therapeutic while minimizing unwanted side effects."

For Medical and Science News updated throughout the day: www.cleveland.com/medical.

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I've been starting to do the Bates techniques.

I've been doing Palming, and just now I went out to the pool where I live to get the sun rays on my closed eyes for 5 minutes.  It felt so good.  And my eyes loved it, and they felt like they were drinking water and were so thristly.

Palming

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"All the methods used in the eradication of errors of refraction (improving vision) are simply different ways of obtaining relaxation..."

 
 

This lesson is an introduction to the art of palming, as developed over a hundred years ago by Dr. Bates:

"... most people, though by no means all, find it easiest to relax with their eyes shut. This usually lessens the strain to see, and in such cases is followed by a temporary or more lasting improvement in vision.....

"..... But some light comes through the closed eyelids and a still greater degree of relaxation can be obtained in all but a few exceptional cases, by excluding it. This is done by covering the closed lids with the palms of the hands (the fingers being crossed upon the forehead) in such a way as to avoid pressure on the eyeballs. So efficacious is this practice, which I have called "palming", as a means of relieving strain, that we all instinctively respond to it at times, and from it most people are able to get a considerable degree of relaxation."

Dr Wm. H. Bates:
The Cure of Imperfect Sight Without Glasses (1919)

 
     
   
   
 

Spend some time each day Palming.

To palm is to cover your closed eyes with your hands in such a way that there is no pressure on your eyeballs. The palms of your hands are slightly cupped over each eye (left over left and right over right), and usually the fingers are partly interlaced on your forehead. There should be no light, or as little as possible, allowed to enter the eye. Once you are palming, open your eyes and look around to see if you can adjust your hands in such a way as to exclude as much light as possible. Close your eyes.

Note:

Palming is supposed to be relaxing, but you may end up being tight in your hands and arms in order to exclude light. Don't overdo it, and if necessary compromise. The next time you palm you may find a better position for the hands. Palming in a darkened room can be useful.

Palming positions

1. Sitting in a dining-type chair in front of a table with a stack of cushions, (or foam pads) on it. The cushions are for resting your elbows: there should be enough cushions so that you are able to easily bring your palms to your eyes without stooping forward (too few cushions), or having to look up (too many cushions). Rest your elbows on the cushions and bring your hands to your eyes. Close your eyes, rest with the darkness, and don't forget to breathe!

2. Lying on your back, with a few books under your head, and your knees up and feet flat on the floor. Bring your hands to your eyes, and start palming. The disadvantage of this is that you have to hold your arms up, which can be difficult if you want to palm for a long period.

How long should I palm?

There is no fixed answer to this question. Some people enjoy palming as soon as they first try it, while a few people never find it enjoyable. As a result there is a different answer for each person, and it can vary from day to day for the same person - it would be counterproductive to force any strict rule: vision rebels against this.

 For the first time, try setting your alarm clock to ring at the end of five or ten minutes. Palm, and after the alarm goes off ask yourself if the ringing alarm left you feeling relieved.... or annoyed! If you felt relieved, then palm for less time; you can benefit from palming for just fifteen breaths at a time. If you felt annoyed, then ..... throw the alarm out the window.

If you one day find yourself happy to continue, then do so: you can't do too much palming if you are feeling happy.

How often should I palm?

1. If you quite like palming then find at least one time in each day that you will be able to palm without disturbance. Make a mental note of any feelings you have ( e.g. happy, sad, confused, spaced out...) and also note what your other senses are receiving: listen, be, feel the support of the chair and floor, breathe.

2. During the day take regular short breaks and have mini-palms. You don't have to set yourself up in one of the "palming positions", just start palming as soon as you think of it. As you have a mini-palm, notice how your breath rises and falls. Count each breath cycle until you get to fifteen or so, and then stop.

This second method can also be used if you find palming unenjoyable. Don't palm for long, but do palm often, up to as much as twenty times in one day.

 

Some questions to ask yourself:

Do you see nothing, or shapes, lights and colours?

How do you feel when you palm?

Do you feel relaxed after palming, or do you feel anxious?

... there are so many things that you could notice - even not being able to palm is interesting and gives you valuable information for further work. The only rules are those you make up for yourself!

So now it's your turn. Start palming today, and do it every day for a week.



http://www.seeing.org/intro/techniqs/palming.htm
Eye Strengthening Exercises - Part 1
From Cathy Wong, N.D.,
Your Guide to Alternative Medicine.
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Yoga to Balance Eyestrain
Do you spend your days staring at a computer screen? If you do, you probably know how draining and tiring it can be to your entire body, not just your eyes.

The natural state of the body is to be at peace. When we read to understand and learn new information, the mind becomes tense and tries to catch hold. This agitation strains the entire body, including the eyes. That's why people often feel drained after studying or working, even though they haven't physically exerted themselves.

The following exercises can help to strengthen the eye muscles and counterbalance the effects of eyestrain. The key to doing these exercises is to relax and empty the mind as if you are meditating.

Improving Visual Concentration
The first step is to strengthen visual concentration. Sit comfortably with your back and neck straight but not stiff. Start by holding each posture for a few minutes and gradually increase.

1. Focus your gaze on the tip of your nose without blinking. Remain like this for as long as you can. Then close your eyes and relax.

2. Focus on your "third eye" without blinking. This is the area between the eyebrows above your nose. Then close your eyes and relax.

It may feel uncomfortable or hard to do at first, but do not let yourself become frustrated. Keep your focus on that area and with time, you will find this posture easier to do.

3. Without turning your head, focus both eyes on your left shoulder. Remain like this for as long as you can. Then close your eyes and relax. Repeat this sequence with the right shoulder.


After you are finished, place the palms of your hands on your closed eyes and rest for as long as you would like.

Imagination to Balance Visual Concentration
Lie on your back facing up. Your palms should face the ceiling and your legs should be about shoulder-width apart. If you are doing this exercise in your office then sit comfortably in your chair.

Close your eyes. Breathe into your belly. Feel it expand as it fills with air. Continue for a few minutes and then open your eyes. Look at some object. Close your eyes again and continue "seeing" that object. This exercise helps to relax your eyes. It also balances mental focus with imaginatio
n.

Meditation to Balance Visual Concentration
Lie on your back facing up. Your palms should face the ceiling and your legs should be about shoulder-width apart. If you are doing this exercise in your office then sit comfortably in your chair.

Close your eyes and place your palms over your closed eyes. Breathe into your belly. Feel it expand as it fills with air. Continue for a few minutes and then open your eyes. Look at some object. Look but keep your mind empty. Don't let yourself attach to it or stare at it. This exercise teaches you how to focus without straining or depleting your eyes.

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20/20 Vision Quest

You can improve your eyesight by regularly performing this series of simple exercises.

By Cybèle Tomlinson

When you look at Meir Schneider, founder and director of the Center and School for Self-Healing in San Francisco, his striking eyes are what you see first. The left eye angles slightly inward and is somewhat murky; the right one is focused and alert.

The fact that Schneider is able to see is nothing short of extraordinary: He was born cross-eyed with microopthalmy (a small eyeball), glaucoma (excessive pressure on the eyes), astigmatism (an irregular curve of the cornea), nystagmus (involuntary shifting of the eyes), and cataracts (an opacity of the lens). At the age of 6, after enduring numerous painful and unsuccessful operations, he was pronounced legally blind.

Schneider credits his restored vision to his practice of yoga for the eyes. These techniques are based on the Bates Method of vision improvement, developed around the turn of the century by ophthalmologist William Bates, who believed that eyes which were capable of deteriorating were also capable of improving. Over the course of his controversial career, Bates developed an extensive training program for the eyes. He argued that the eyes must be relaxed in order to see well.

Schneider began the Bates Method at age 17. He practiced relaxing the eyes for up to 13 hours a day. "The results were so dramatic when I began to work on myself," he says. "Seeing light—when it happened—was such a dramatic thing that nothing could stand in my way." At the same time, he also discovered how to relax his body and move more freely. Eventually, Schneider gained enough vision to read, walk, run, and even drive.

Since that time, Schneider, who holds a Ph.D. in healing arts, has made helping others with vision limitations his life's work. He began by concentrating on the eyes and then moved to the whole body, aiding those living with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, and polio.

The Psychology of Seeing

Schneider's techniques are remarkably simple, but you have to be able to abandon your preconceived notions of what eyesight is and how it works.

Seeing involves not just the eyes but the brain. According to Schneider, "Seeing is largely a function of the mind, and only partly a function of the eyes. There are 80 to 110 million rods and 4 to 5 million cones with which the retina senses light. A billion images are produced in the retina every minute. But the brain can't assimilate all these images: It's selective, and determines how much of a picture you will or won't see. It also determines how clear or how fuzzy your vision will be." For instance, when you're bored, your mind tells your eyes not to look, and after awhile that's what happens: You stop looking.

However, there is a demand to see, and in order to do so, we often squint, strain, and stress the eyes. We further abuse our eyes by reading late into the night, watching television, working long hours on computers, and focusing for too long. "How you use your eyes determines their structure," says Schneider.

Yoga for the Eyes

Schneider begins his own eye program with palming, massage, blinking, and shifting—exercises which should be done in a relaxed, effortless way. If there is tension in the body, then the exercises will only encourage current habits. In all exercises, keep your breathing deep and full.

Palming. Palming, which was originally invented by Tibetan yogis, is done in darkness with the palms cupping the eyes. Palming soothes the optic nerve, which is often irritated. Sit in a darkened room with your elbows leaning on a table. Relax your back and shoulders, rub your hands together vigorously to warm them, then place your palms over your eyes. Don't press the eye sockets and don't lean on the cheekbones. Visualize total blackness, the most relaxing color for the brain, and breathe deeply. Let the blackness permeate everything: your eyes, your whole body, the room you sit in, the city, the state, the continent, the planet, the stars, the universe.

You may see all kinds of lights, which is an indication of irritation in the optic nerve. In fact, you may not see total darkness until you have completed several palming sessions. Palm for as long as is comfortable.

Massage. Rub your hands together to warm them and then rub the fingers up the bridge of the nose and across the eyebrows to the temples. Find the grooves in the eyebrows and massage them. Then rub the fingers from the nose to the cheekbones and to the ears. Finally, run your fingers across your forehead. Facial massage helps dissolve tension in the eyes, bringing them to a more relaxed state. Massage of the face, head, and body can facilitate this process.

Blinking. Often our tendency is to fall into a kind of myopic stare, especially when under stress. This strains the eyes unnecessarily. Blinking helps keep the eyes moist and tension-free, and increases circulation in the eyes. Begin reprogramming yourself by opening and closing the eyes very softly and gently. Then visualize the eyes blinking. Imagine that it's the eyelashes which open and close the eyes. Breathe deeply. Apply this technique whenever you look at something, gazing in a soft way and blinking frequently. If the eyes are behaving in this way, then they can't be tense.

Shifting. This involves flitting the eyes rapidly from detail to detail and encourages the eyes to engage with the world and pick up on more details. Normal eyes shift naturally, making many micromovements per second.

Shifting works by engaging the macula, the central part of the retina, which is responsible for clear, detailed vision. By moving the eyes frequently, more information comes through this part of the retina, thus providing the eyes with more in-focus visual information.

Practice by moving your eyes from point to point on whatever you're looking at. Forget the name of the thing you're seeing, and look at its individual parts. Never strain or force yourself; always look with "soft" eyes.

According to Schneider, there are many people who have healed their eyes using these exercises. One woman came to him after being blinded in one of her eyes by flying glass. After she did three long palming sessions—each lasting several hours—she could see light and shadow with her blind eye. In her other eye, her vision went from 20/16 to 20/6.

Another dramatic case is that of an elderly pharmacist who was referred to Schneider after surgery for macular degeneration. The surgery left him with damage to his central vision, thus causing him to see images in multiple. These images were fuzzy and had no depth; the pharmacist's vision measured 20/400. After working with Schneider for six months, his vision was 20/25.

Most of us, thinking these eye conditions are inevitable and unchangeable, simply opt for corrective lenses. But there is a danger in taking this route, because glasses encourage the shape of the eye to remain the same. "Yes, you put on glasses and you can see 20/20, but with time you come to depend on them," says Schneider. "People believe that vision can only deteriorate, not improve. But eyes can improve, and they do improve, given the right conditions."

Resources

Self Healing: My Life and Vision, by Meir Schneider (Penguin, 1989).

The Handbook of Self-Healing, by Meir Schneider and Maureen Larkin (Penguin/Arkana, 1994).

Meir Schneider's Miracle Eyesight Method, by Meir Schneider (two audiotapes, Sounds True, 1996).

CybËle Tomlinson is a writer and yoga teacher who lives in Berkeley, California.

March/April 1999

This article can be found online at http://www.yogajournal.com/health/79_1.cfm

August 12th, 2006

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