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Eyesight Improvement

How can I improve my eyesight?

Question

I intend to join the forces in five years when I graduate from University, but my eyesight is getting worse quite quickly - although I have net been diagnosed with any eye condition. I am worried about having corrective laser eye surgery because there is a risk of being left with even worse eyesight. Are there any herbal supplements or vitamins that could help

Answer

The eyes are the most powerful and precious organs in the body, so it is very important to look after them.

The different structures of the eyeball - cornea, sclera, pupil, retina, fluids and the muscles that move the eyes in different directions - were identified by Galen, the great Greek physician and surgeon( circa A D 129-2l6). Although the eye functions as one organ, each part has a specific role - to protect, nourish with blood or nutrients, facilitate the smooth passage of light, make a photochemical analysis of what is seen, pass sensory information to the brain, and so on.

Since no specific cause has been diagnosed for your failing vision, I suggest you do everything possible to look after your sight and help it to improve. Blood supply to the retina is 100 percent essential to vision: anaemia and low blood pressure often cause black spots to float before the eyes, and may cause a decrease in vision. Diabetic retinopathy, a major complication of diabetes, is primarily due to decreased blood flow to the retina.

Nutrition is very important you must eat l00g fine protein every day (vegans frequently suffer from anaemia and low blood pressure). The fat-soluble vitamin A (betacarotene) is essential for synthesis of retinal, a pigment in the retina. Retinal converts light energy on the retina into chemical energy, which is then transferred to the brain as electrical energy. (Solar panels that capture the sun's rays and convert them into electricity function on similar principles.) Carotene is found in chicken, eggs, game, lean meat and fish.

Vegetarians should eat six to ten almonds a day, soaked in room temperature water for 24 hours. A compound similar to carotene is also found in carrots and other orange-coloured vegetables and fruit. Dark red and purple fruit, such as bilberries, are also associated with eye health. Blue-green algae, which you can buy in supplement form in health shops, is also high in betacarotene. I recommend taking Amla (Indian gooseberry) powder, which contains perfectly preserved natural vitamin C and other ingredients that help eyesight (perhaps by. aiding circulation of blood to retina). Take ½ teaspoonful, twice daily with water for three months.

Therapeutic Iyengar yoga has a series of exercises which are ideal for maintaining and improving sight. Some of these are demonstrated by the 90-year-old yoga master Swami Ram Lakhan in my lifestyle DVD (Integrated Health Group), and by my co-author and colleague Jiwan Brar in our book Therapeutic Yoga . Dr William Bates's eye exercises, developed in the early 20th century, are similar.

Here are some suggestions (hold each gaze for five seconds):

  • 1 Stand straight look ahead and keep your head still. Look up and then look down. Repeat five times.
  • 2 Rub your palms together for a few seconds to generate heat, then place them over your eyes for a few moments to soothe them.
  • 3 Stand straight, look ahead and keep your head still. Look to the left and then look to the right. Repeat five times. Repeat step two.
  • 4 Look diagonally up to the left, then do the same down to the right. Repeat five times. Repeat step two.
  • 5 Look diagonally up to the right, then do the same down to the left. Repeat five times. Repeat step two.
  • 6 Rotate your eyes clockwise five times, following an imaginary dot. Do the same anticlockwise. Repeat step two.
  • 7 Fix your gaze at a distant point, then look at the tip of your nose. Do this five times.
  • 8Repeat step two.
  • 9 Rub your eyes gently to wipe away any tears.
  • 10 Cup your hands rightly over - your eyes so that no light enters. Look into the darkness for five seconds, then open your hands and look at a candle or into bright outdoor light.
  • Repeat this cycle five times so that you stare at darkness one moment, then into bright light the next.

Wearing Trayner pinhole glasses ( www.trayner.co.uk ) for a short period every day may help. Also, protect your eyes with wraparound sunglasses (with 100 percent UVA/UVB protection) in bright sunlight. Remember that blinking regularly is important too.

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