Yoga for Eye Health

yoga for eye health

Yoga and meditation are widely known to have positive effects on mental clarity and spiritual well-being. However, it is also an effective means to support physical health. Recently, studies have even demonstrated its surprising impact on eye health. A British Journal of Visual Impairment study found that meditation and breathing exercises, which are large tenets of yoga, significantly reduced intraocular (eye) pressure for patients with glaucoma. The above research is promising news for the growing number of those with vision issues. According to the Canadian Association of Optometrists, one in seven Canadians has eye conditions that threaten their vision.

This means half of Canadians experience issues like blurriness, floaters, or glare, which, when untreated, can affect vision quality. Furthermore, Clearly’s Eyes on Canada report highlights that one in three Canadians is overdue for an eye exam. These exams can identify conditions and prevent them from getting worse. Given that 75% of vision loss is preventable, this eye health habit is important.

Interestingly, one in five Canadians practice yoga. Thus, yoga may present another pathway to help Canadians build better eye care habits. It’s easier to stay on top of eye health habits when you cultivate a mindset of body awareness and prioritization. By recognizing your eyes’ inherent value, you will be compelled to do what you can to take care of it. Yoga is a mindfulness technique that trains your focus on how you feel in the present moment. Here are a few ways you can harness yoga to take better care of your eyes.

Yoga can train your eyes against strain

Your eyes have muscles around them, and they need regular training. Eye yoga is the practice of eye movements to use the full range of one’s sight in order to prevent eye strain and headaches. This is well-backed by research: the National Post reports that in one study of 60 nursing students, eight weeks of eye yoga helped their eyes feel less tired. Another study published by the International Journal of Yoga involved 32 undergraduate optometry students who had validated eye fatigue. The group that performed yoga ocular exercises for up to six weeks experienced a statistically significant reduction in eye fatigue scores compared to the control group.

The movements are simple to practice and can be done anywhere. One example is the figure of eight, where you use your eye gaze to trace the largest “8” shape you can, then change direction. Another technique is to look at an object that is close by, then shift your focus to the furthest thing you can see for a few seconds, and then repeat.

Yoga encourages you to be outside

Extensive indoor hours are not conducive to health, which is why your environment matters when doing yoga. Practicing yoga outside does two things. First, yoga itself can relieve the stress that causes pressure on the eyes, and this is compounded when done in nature. The Calgary Herald shares that just half an hour of outdoor time can lower blood pressure and pulse as the body relaxes and releases regulating hormones like endorphins. Second, doing yoga outdoors allows you to focus your eyes on objects in the distance. This reduces the risk of myopia development.

Supplementary eye health habits

Along with eye exams and regular yoga sessions, there are other eye-friendly habits to support these efforts. Consider making mindful diet swaps for foods rich in Vitamin A, beta carotene, and omega-3 fatty acids, such as carrots, tuna, salmon, and leafy green vegetables. Incorporate more outdoor time into your day. When possible, work from an al fresco area, so you have the chance to look into the distance during screen breaks.

Adopting this sort of well-rounded eye wellness routine ties back to my “Eight Limbs of Yoga” post. There, we talked about how tapas, from the discipline niyamas, is about the importance of committing to positive routines. Your eyes help you perceive and thus appreciate the world around you. Show them some much-needed love by getting on your yoga mat and maintaining a consistent eye care ritual.