When I was in grade 5 or so, the blackboard started getting fuzzy, so I got my first pair of glasses. Since then my vision has steadily deteriorated.
Vision loss is something we've just sort of come to accept as inevitable. You can't prevent it, right? So you might as well accept it. Sure, there's laser surgery, but no matter how many people I meet who have had successful operations, I'm still a scaredy cat.
Besides, it's expensive.
We know all about antioxidants, carrots and omega fatty acids. Berries and fish are good for preserving the eyes, as is having a healthy diet in general - which applies to just about every column I write.
Beyond that, is it true that vision loss is just a part of life? Or are there ways to preserve your eyesight or even reverse damage already done?
What the experts say "The mind-body connection, the awareness of the eyes is the most important thing. When your mind is anxious and not connected with your eyes, your vision system cannot work properly. Your eyes should be relaxed and moving properly. If your body is tense, your eyeballs will be tense. Listen to the message from your eyes . Pain, discomfort, decreased vision - all of these are messages that your eyes need rest. When your eyes are tired, close them . Give them a break by looking into the distance . Splash alternate hot and cold wate r on your eyes. Make sure you're blinking regularly and breathing properly."
ELIZABETH ABRAHAM , founder, Vision Education Centre, Toronto
"Our eyeballs grow. As we get older we get taller, and our eyes get longer. If they get too long, we have trouble seeing in the distance. There's nothing we can do to stop this. I know of no studies that prove eye exercises can reduce a person's prescription. There is no proof that not using full prescription lenses [thus making your eyes work harder] improves them. Studies are being done on whether excessive reading causes increased myopia. Some are being done in China, where myopia is rampant and 90 per cent of schoolchildren wear glasses. Lots of antioxidants - vitamins and minerals - have been proven to help. Diet is very important, and so is ultraviolet radiation protection. UV exposure can expedite cataract formation. Getting your eyes tested on a regular basis is the most important thing you can do. As we get older we lose the ability to focus and handle strain. We need three prescriptions: one for distance, one for mid-range and one for reading. People should have multiple eyewear for multiple functions."
UPEN KUALI , optometrist, Toronto
"What is it in our environment that is causing more and more people to become myopic? Diet and electric light may be influences. Another might be pollution from cars or manufacturing. One approach [to preventing myopia] is teaching relaxation. Children can be taught to take three minutes a day to look at a 20/20-sized letter 20 feet away to relax their eyes. That would eliminate a good percentage of myopia. I have developed an exercise for the prevention and reduction of middle-aged sight. This involves crossing your eyes and converging by looking at two objects, one out of one eye and one out of the other . We care for our teeth and go to the gym, but we don't [have a daily routine for eyecare.]"
RAY GOTTLIEB , optometrist, Rochester, New York
"Smooth and fluid eye movements can be relearned. Lie on your back with knees bent and the soles of the feet flat on the floor. With eyes closed, gently roll your head an inch or so to the right and to the left . Rest . Open your eyes and look at a spot on the ceiling . Without strain, roll your head left and right while leaving your eyes on the spot. Breathe easily. Rest. Close your left eye, look at the spot and roll your head an inch left and right. Close your right eye and do the same thing. Rest. With both eyes focused on the spot, roll your head gently left and right. Slowly open your eyes and come to a standing position. Look around and notice the colours, details and textures. To have an effect, each sequence must be repeated five times, with diminished effort each time."
DAVID WEBBER , guild certified Feldenkrais practitioner, Toronto
"The eyes, according to traditional Chinese medicine, are an outward manifestation of the liver. Acupuncture points around the eyes such as UB1 (inner canthus) or ST1 (below the eye ball in line with the pupil) can be gently massaged in small circles to help the blood and qi (energy), as can a point distal to the eye on the liver meridian: Liv3 (in between the big toe and the second toe). GouQiZi or wolfberry nourishes the eyes and the blood, as does the popular herbal formula MingMuDiHuangWan . '
ROBERT McDONALD , Chinese medicine practitioner, Toronto