This came from someone on the Coconut Oil Forum - a protocol written by his Ambrose who, at almost 80, doesn't wear glasses & has very good vision!
Like Ambrose, I read under the covers when I was a kid.
I've HAD glasses since I was ~ 13, but only wear glasses when driving, & now (at times) when reading. This is such a good compliation of the info I've reprinted the whole letter - I've done most of these at times over the years, several are new to me, too. My mom wore glasses throughout her life, my dad got reading glasses later in life, spent quite a bit of time outdoors - so changing focal distance frequently, & had his own eye exercises.
Ambrose wrote this for a young eye doc in the Phillapines - who wears glasses :)
DO YOU REALLY NEED GLASSES?
"We tend to take it for granted that, as people grow older, they will get sicker. More specifically, we take it for granted that, as people grow older, their eyes will grow weaker and they will need stronger and stronger glasses. Neither assumption is valid. If people do get sicker as they grow older, that's less the inevitable accompaniment of aging than the cumulative effect of faulty living;; and, if the majority of people need glasses before they have reached the mid-point of their lives, that's less the result of aging than of years of ocular maltreatment. If people lived right, there would be very little illness; if people treated their eyes right, few of them would need glasses.
Eye health depends largely on three things -- an adequate supply of eye-specific nutrients, a healthy set of retinal capillaries and a healthy set of muscles to "operate" the eyes.
"The most important eye-specific nutrient is Vitamin A, which is an integral part of visual purple, the substance that turns the surface of the retina into a light-sensitive film. If Vitamin-A levels are low, vision deteriorates. Best food sources of the vitamin are orange/yellow vegetables or fruit such as carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangoes and papaya. People who demand much of their eyes are well advised to use Vitamin-A supplements.
"Vitamin A alone is not enough to ensure good eye health. Other structures that form part of the eye -- the vitreous body, the muscles that "operate" the eyes – need other nutrients for optimal performance, among them Vitamin C, the B Vitamins, and several trace minerals. A good and balanced diet of natural, unrefined and largely unprocessed foods can be relied on to supply them. If there is one food that seems to have been designed by nature as the all-round food of eye nutrients, it is sunflower seeds. Do your eyes and yourself a favor by having sunflower seeds handy regularly for in-between-meals snacks.
"There is one more nutrient which is of crucial importance for optimal eye performance, oxygen. When an ophthalmologist checks your eyes, one
of the things (s)he is particularly interested in is the condition of the tiny blood vessels called capillaries that criss-cross the retina. (S)he puts drops in your eyes that keep the pupils from contracting and then shines a light through them at the retina to have a good look at those capillaries. Healthy capillaries are necessary for an adequate supply of oxygen to the retina. How do you ensure that capillaries in the retina are in good shape?
For one, through good nutrition -- a diet that helps to keep the cardiovascular system clean --and then through adequate aerobic exercise.
"A diet that keeps blood vessels, large or small, clean is a diet low in foods of animal origin but high in unrefined foods of plant origin, in particular fresh fruit, legumes and whole grains.
"The kind of exercise that will put, and keep, your cardiovascular system in good shape is aerobic exercise, exercise which involves large groups of muscles and which makes your heart beat fast for an extended period of time such as brisk walking, jogging, swimming or a vigorous game of tennis. It may come as a surprise to you that a brisk walk of at least 45 minutes five times a week can make a big difference in the health of your eyes. It would of course be wrong to expect instant results; that is, to expect a big improvement in your vision if you walk or jog for only a week or two. It took years of physical inactivity for your cardiovascular system to deteriorate and it will take at least months for it to recover. But, if you persevere, your heart and all the blood vessels in your body, including the tiny capillaries that supply the retina with oxygen and other nutrients, will be rehabilitated. You will have taken a big step in the right direction towards the goal of rehabilitating your eyes.
"Apart from general aerobic exercise that benefits your whole body, there are several sets of exercises that are specific for your eyes. A big part of the process of seeing depends on the muscles that "operate" the eye. These muscles, like every muscle, need adequate exercise. If they don't get it, they deteriorate and perform the functions assigned to them either badly or not at all.
"We are talking about three sets of muscles here. One set, the muscles of accommodation, changes the shape of the lens so that images entering the eye appear properly focused; a second set of muscles, which move the eyeballs in their sockets, extend our ability to look left or right, up or down beyond the limits of the head's movements; a third set, finally, enables the eye to adjust to different light conditions by changing the "aperture" of the pupil. In bright light, the pupil contracts so as to protect the interior of the eye from too much light. But there is more to this narrowing of the lens opening. As with the lens of a good camera, the smaller the aperture, the sharper the image that is viewed and the greater the depth of focus. That's why we can read better in bright light, when the aperture of the iris, the lense of the eye, is small.. In dim light, by contrast, when the pupil opens wide to let as much light as possible enter the eye, we see less well to read..
"In a natural setting -- for instance in that of the farmer, that of the sailor or that of the steppe nomad -- all these muscles get adequate exercise naturally. Eyes focus now on near, now on far-away objects; eyeballs move frequently to cover the whole field of vision; and the pupils have to keep adjusting to varying light conditions, from sunshine to shade and back, from indoor to out. It is in the unnatural setting of our urban existence that eyes get too little of the right and too much of the wrong kinds of exercise. People sit reading for hours, with eyes fixed in the unnatural near-focus position. When eyes look off into the distance, the muscles of accommodation are relaxed; when we look at a nearby object, these same muscles have to strain to keep the eyes thus focused. If we do this for hours on end, day after day, the muscles of accommodation fatigue and eventually they lose their flexibility. Eyes then won't focus properly any more. That's when people who do a lot of reading complain that they have to hold the book further and further away and that their "arms simply are not long enough any more for reading." They need glasses.
"Now every crutch weakens the structure it supports. With glasses doing the muscles' work, the muscles deteriorate even further. Before long, stronger glasses are needed. These in turn further weaken the muscles of accommodation and in time yet stronger glasses are needed.
"A very vicious cycle is initiated. Eye doctors tend to make things worse by encouraging their patients to wear their glasses as much as possible. One wonders whether they do this because they don't know any better or because they want to sell more glasses. The sensible thing would be to wear the glasses only when absolutely necessary; that is, to wear them only when there is a task to be completed but eyes balk, either because they are tired or because lighting is not adequate, and to take them off when eyes can cope without them again, either because they have had a chance to rest or lighting is better."
[this is what I do!]
"You'd be doing yourself and your eyes an ill service if you wore glasses when your eyes can manage without them. But don't expect your eye doctor to tell you so.
"Let's have a look now at some of the things you can do to prevent the premature deterioration of the ocular muscles or to rehabilitate them if damage has already been done.
"When you do something that keeps your eyes focused at a fixed level for more than just a few minutes, whether it is solving a crossword puzzle, working at a computer or reading a book, look up frequently, vigorously blink a few times to promote the lubrication of your eyeballs and then slowly alternate between looking at a nearby object for a few seconds and looking at a distant object for a few second. Then close your eyes for half a minute or longer to let them rest. You'll be surprised how refreshed they feel when you resume what you were doing.
"Now and then, take a somewhat longer break. Get a bowl large enough to
accommodate your face and fill it with clean, ice-cold water to within a inch of its rim. Having first taken a deep breath, dip your face in the cold water and keep it there for a slow count of ten. During that time blink your eyelids slowly but vigorously. The contact with the cold water stimulates blood circulation in your eyes. When they resume work, they will feel wonderfully refreshed.
"You can do your eyes a favor by spending an occasional ten or fifteen minutes lying on a slant board, head down. Normally, your heart has to work against the pull of gravity to get the blood to your head. When you lie on the slant board, head down, the flow of blood to your head increases and all the organs lodged in the head - - brain, ears and eyes -- benefit from the improved supply of oxygen and other nutrients that comes in its wake.
"The following set of exercises can, if performed regularly, be counted to rehabilitate out-of-shape accommodation muscles. Hold an extended index finger about four inches in front of the tip of your nose. Get your eyes to focus on the finger for one to two seconds. Then look up, pick an object as far from you as possible and get your eyes to focus on that object for the same length of time. Repeat ten to fifteen times and then, having blinked vigorously a few times, close your eyes and keep them closed for a little while, perhaps as long as half a minute. Repeat the whole cycle two or three times.
"For a variation of this exercise, cut a dot an inch in diameter out of black paper and glue it on your living room window at eye level. Stand facing that dot, four to six inches away from it. Then look out past the dot, pick a distant object and start looking back and forth between the black dot and the distant object as you did with the finger in front of your nose.
'"I perform this exercise in all sorts of places without anyone becoming aware of it. If I have to wait for a bus, I stand close to a light post or power pole, pick an object somewhere in the distance and then proceed as with the raised finger or the black dot. At a boring lecture, I hold a pencil in front of my eyes and alternately look at the pencil and at the lecturer's head.
"To exercise the muscles that move my eyeballs in their sockets, I imagine myself looking at the face of a big clock. Without moving my head, I look up at the 12 and from there, still without moving my head, I slowly look my way around the face of that clock -- 1, 2, 3, etc. -- till I get back to the 12. I do this four or five times, first in a clockwise and then in a counterclockwise direction; and then, as with the previous exercise, having blinked a few times, I close my eyes for a little while to let them rest."
[the Tibetan eye exercises and my dad's set give the same 'workout'!]
"Sunning" is the term I use for the exercise which I rely on to condition the muscles that make my pupils expand or contract. To sun, I face a bright source of light -- the sky on a sunny day, without looking directly at the sun, or a bright source of artificial light on cloudy days. I cup my hands over my eyes in such a way as to shut out all light for a few seconds and then I swivel them open and close them at intervals of perhaps three seconds, sure that my pupils contract all the way when my hands swivel open and open wide when my hands swivel closed. After some fifteen repetitions, I pause briefly with my hands cupped over my eyes. I repeat the 15-rep cycle two or three times.
"I had an oculist friend of mine check my vision a few days ago. When she was done, she shook her head as though she disapproved of her findings and snapped at me in mock anger, "Get lost. Not fair that someone as old as you should be blessed with nearly perfect vision."
"I am 76 years old. Few people dead or alive, I am sure, have asked as much of their eyes as I have of mine. When I was a kid, I was not allowed to read. Study, yes; but to read just for the fun of it? NO. In the eyes of my father that was both a waste of time and it would have made me lazy. So I spent hours reading with a flash light under the covers of my bed. If my eyes still serve me well, it is largely owing to the fact that I have treated them well. And I am sure that they will continue to serve me well much further into old age. If you'd like to be able to say as much of your eyes when you get to be my age or even older, all you have to do is treat them as well as I have been treating mine.
"PS: Though I am crowding 80 now, I still function without glasses, whether it is reading what’s on the computer screen or a magazine or looking off into the distance when I am driving. A good many of the people who take it for granted that, sooner or later, one needs glasses, could throw away their glasses if they treated their eyes the way I do for a few months."