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Exercícios Oculares

Método Meir Schneider

Better Eyesight, Healthier Eyes

While most of us know that we can improve our health and live longer by eating better, getting regular exercise, reducing stress, and learning relaxation, when it comes to our eyes we have a kind of learned helplessness. Very few of us believe there is anything we can do to make our eyes healthier and improve our eyesight. That fact is, however, that the things we do to improve our bodily health are also good for our eyes.

The eye is not simply a mechanical tool. Like every other part of your body, it is profoundly affected by your state of mind. For no good reason, the popular belief today is that vision can only deteriorate and cannot improve. Statistics show that most people who see poorly never see well afterwards; their vision just gets worse and worse. But these statistics might look very different if we were taught how to take care of our eyes – and, even more importantly, if we understood that we have the power to improve our eyesight.

Vision is the sum total of sensation, perception, and conception. Mechanically speaking, your retina has about 126 million light-sensing cells that produce some billion images every single minute. The brain cannot possibly assimilate all those images to create a picture, so it selects – basically determining how much of a picture you will and will not see. How clear or how poor your vision will be is largely a function of your brain.

Western medicine tends to ignore the complex interactions between eye and brain. Medical training puts greater emphasis on treating the symptoms. If you have cataracts, doctors will remove the lens. If you have high blood pressure in the eye, they will alleviate it. If you see poorly, they will give you glasses. They do not tend to go deeply into the causes of these conditions.

Yet nearsightedness, for example is clearly the result of mental stress and the fact that your brain conceives of the world as a fuzzy place. Most children who become nearsighted do so at about third grade, when the initial excitement of learning has subsided and they begin to glimpse the unchanging pattern of school years ahead of them. Those who do not get glasses in third grade generally get them in college, when the future is not clear and seemingly endless studies lie ahead.

Farsightedness, on the other hand, tends to develop in our forties and fifties, when most divorces happen and when people ask themselves, “Could I live my life differently?” There is no question in my mind, after nearly thirty years of working with all kinds of vision problems, that your eyesight is truly a part of your mental state. Helping your eyesight is not simply an issue of getting rid of your glasses, but of dealing with your total being: your mental, emotional, and physical state in its entirety.

Vision problems usually manifest as lack of clarity in either near or distant vision. The physical act of seeing things close up is different from that of seeing things in the distance. Consider, for example, how a camera works. When light rays from the object you are photographing reach the camera’s lens, they need to converge so that they are focused on the film behind the lens. To focus, you change the distance between the lens and the film until it is just right – otherwise the object will not focus exactly on the film and the photo will be a blur.

In the same way, your eye needs to converge light rays from the object you are looking at and focus them behind the lens. Instead of film, you have a retina: a network of nerve cells that translates the light rays into neural information. These data are sent through the optic nerve to the brain. Where a camera changes the distance between lens and film, the eye changes the shape of the lens instead.

When the ciliary muscles that hold the lens in place are relaxed, the lens is relatively flat and allows for distant vision. When the object you are looking at is closer than twenty feet away, those muscles contract, and the lens assumes a more spherical shape. This process is called accommodation.

Another factor thought to determine how a person see is the shape of the eyeball. Irregularly shaped eyeballs are considered the cause of the two most common vision problems: myopia and hyperopia. Myopia (nearsightedness) means the inability to see distant objects clearly, caused by an eyeball that is too long from front to back. This shape makes it impossible for the lens to focus the light rays from distant objects onto the retina, though it can focus the rays from close objects. Hyperopia, or hypermetropia (farsightedness), refers to the inability to see close objects clearly. Here, the eyeball is too short from front to back. Light rays from a distance focus correctly, but the lens is unable to bring the rays together before they reach the retina. If they were capable of passing through it, the rays would probably focus behind the retina. These descriptions explain the mechanical conditions underlying poor vision. But what causes these physical changes to occur? In one word, the answer is stress. The eyes are as susceptible to stress as is any other part of the body, and are subjected to at least as much of it.

Two components of visual stress – prolonged unrelieved near-focusing and tasks with high-level cognitive demand – often coincide in school and office work. The advent of computers has compounded the problem, creating a visual/postural repetitive strain condition called computer vision syndrome (CVS). Symptoms include eyestrain, general fatigue, neck and shoulder pain, dry eyes, and difficulties in focusing. The computer screen is itself a visual stressor. Since the eye can never determine the focal length of computer pixels, it is plunged into a visual limbo in which the ciliary muscle continually quivers with unavailing effort. The visual stress of CVS tends to bring on myopia or make it worse.

Many of our actions and reactions – as well as much of our memory – are guided by mental pictures, including conscious and subconscious images of events that shaped our emotional makeup. Our eyes are stressed even when we are perceiving these only “in the mind’s eye.” All of these events take place in the brain, of which the eye is an integral part. Because of all this, and also because we use them for just about everything we do, our eyes respond strongly to our thoughts and emotions. Because they work so constantly and so hard, they are also extremely sensitive to physical pain and fatigue.

Poor vision arises from a complex interplay in the bodymind. This is why, when we begin working to improve our eyes, we need to approach this work from every possible angle. It is also why, in the process of doing so, we discover things about ourselves that we never have suspected.

You may have heard of the Bates Method: a series of exercises designed to strengthen eyesight without the use of glasses. Its creator is Dr. William H. Bates, who was born in 1860 and graduated from Cornell University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons at the age of 35. Three years later, he was serving his internship at Columbia Hospital in New York as an ear, nose, throat, and eye doctor (in those days, these specialties were combined). Dr. Bates was working as a teaching assistant, but was dismissed after repeatedly encouraging fellow doctors to go without the glasses prescribed for them by the chief ophthalmologist at the hospital eye clinic.

Dr. Bates used an instrument called the retinoscope, with which he could observe minute changes in the surface curvature of the eyes, and thereby determine the nature and degree of a patient’s vision problems. Over many years, he observed the eyes of hundreds of patients in every kind of activity, emotional state, and physical condition. He noted how their eyes changed when they were doing work they disliked; when they were fatigued, anxious, or confused; when they were focused, excited, stimulated, or relaxed.
Among the discoveries Dr. Bates made was how visual clarity changes – in the same person – from good to bad and back again, depending on that person’s physical and emotional state. He concluded that vision is not a static condition, but one that changes constantly. In your own experience, you’ve probably noticed that your vision is better at some times than at others. Dr. Bates was the first ophthalmologist to make a scientific study of this phenomenon. His research shows how vision defects can be created and/or worsened by the stress of everyday situations. He also proved that these problems can be corrected by conscious and correct visual behavior.

Dr. Bates died in 1931, having spent his life researching and developing a method to relieve the unnecessary suffering of people afflicted with eye disorders. His compassion and concern for his patients was legendary. Upon seeing an infant fitted with tiny glasses, Dr. Bates remarked, “It’s enough to make the angels weep.”

The exercises on Yoga for Your Eyes are based on the Bates Method, with refinements and additions developed during my nearly three decades of reversing my own blindness and helping others work with their visual problems. These methods have been proven effective in relieving all refractive conditions (any structural problem affecting the trajectory of light within the eye), correcting squints and lazy eyes, and similar problems. They do not necessarily address eye diseases; but they do help you nurture healthier eyes that are more resistant to disease and better able to heal themselves from any reversible condition.

Fonte: Written by Meir Schneider