A woman uses the GlassesOff app to improve her eyesight A woman uses the GlassesOff app to improve her eyesight A woman uses the GlassesOff app to improve her eyesight. (Photo: GlassesOff)

Natural ways to see better

Going beyond glasses and laser surgery for improved vision.

The National Institutes of Health reported that between 15 million and 20 million people in the U.S. are farsighted. 

While most people who are nearsighted need to wear eyeglasses or contact lenses or choose laser surgery, farsightedness can actually be improved naturally, through diet and exercise for your eyes. 


Visual training

The GlassesOff exercises can be done from anywhere The GlassesOff exercises can be done from anywhere. (Photo: GlassesOff)

The science of vision says that it's not actually the eyes that do the work – it's the brain. The eyes are simply the vehicle that the brain uses to turn data into images. Knowing this, the Israeli makers of GlassesOff went to work on methods to train the brain to tell the eyes to see better. It took 20 years of research, but a breakthrough app to correct farsightedness finally launched in 2007. 

“The quality of vision is determined by the eye and the way it captures images, but it’s the brain which processes the information," GlassesOff CEO Nimrod Madar told From the Grapevine. "So at the end of the day, your vision is in the brain just like you experience touch, smell or anything else,” Madar said.

The app is tailored to people whose eyes have weakened with age, but the exercises could be helpful to anyone. After downloading the app, you undergo an initial eye exam and are then assigned three exercises per week, each about 15 minutes long, for about three months. Some people report improved sight after every session, even the very first. Some who have tried it even ditch their reading glasses altogether after the training.

In product testing on a wide range of subjects, from athletes to bookworms to stay-at-home moms, GlassesOff exercises improved response times and reading speeds. In fact, a recent study presented to the American Academy of Ophthalmology showed Israeli pilots and co-pilots who used the app had 35 percent better sharpness and clarity of vision and a 24 percent increase in response to images and visual cues.

The app is free to download at the Apple Store and Google Play. In-app purchases are available.


A healthy diet

Kale is a leaf high in lutein, a nutrient that improves eyesight.Kale is a leaf high in lutein, a nutrient that improves eyesight. (Photo: Kari Sullivan/Flickr)

Better eyesight can start by just improving what you eat. Studies have shown improved nutrition can ward off age-related macular degeneration (ARMD), which generally affects people over 60. It also can counter the effects of ultraviolet rays and free radicals.

The key is regularly integrating foods rich in antioxidants, vitamin C, vitamin E, the nutrient lutein, omega-3 fatty acids and beta carotene. These are most often found in fruits, such as oranges and mangos; sunflower seeds and almonds; carrots and fresh garlic; leafy greens, including kale and spinach; and fish like salmon and sardines.

Of course, it's important to be patient with yourself when starting a new diet. New habits take time to show results, but once a routine is established, you'll gradually start to see improvements in eyesight and overall health.


Eye exercise

Relaxation techniques have been found to improve eyesight.Relaxation techniques have been found to improve eyesight. (Photo: lightwavemedia/Shutterstock)

More than 100 years ago, ophthalmologist William Bates suggested there was no need for glasses. Regular eye exercises could improve or even return vision to its original, "younger" state. Though contested in medical circles at the time, Bates' theory is now cited as a viable method to improve sight.

Just about anyone can benefit from the Bates method. It touts techniques such as palming, which is essentially closing your eyes and placing your palm gently over them, staying this way for a few minutes, and repeating as needed; and sunning, which is applying a controlled amount of light to your face while your eyes are closed. The techniques are quite detailed and include step-by-step instructions, but they all depend on your comfort level. If you’re someone who performs visually stressful activities or jobs that involve staring at computer screens all day, this method could be perfect for you to alternatively relax and strengthen your eyes.

Similarly, an ancient system believed to naturally improve eyesight can be found in the yoga world. 

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