Eye Health and Eye Exercises for Children

Eye Exercises

Vision plays a key role in our quality of life and in our ability to learn and work. For children especially, good vision is very important.

With screen exposure of children increasing significantly due to lockdown, online classes and online assignments, I hear many parents worrying about the impact that this exposure will have, especially on the eyesight of children. Children also tend to suffer from fatigue and headaches due to high screen exposure.

Here are some exercises and other recommendations for children to keep their eyesight strong.

Exercise the eyes regularly

It is extremely important, now more than ever, to get the children into a habit of doing eye exercises every day to maintain good eye health. Every morning, after splashing their eyes with cool water, the children can do some simple exercises.

1. Eye Rotation:

Rotate the eyeballs slowly in the clockwise direction and then rotate them in the anti-clockwise direction. Do it slowly and stretch the eyes as much as you can. Do this for 2-3 minutes to increase your focus.

2. Blinking:

This can be done in the morning and also anytime that you feel fatigue in the eyes (after watching screen for too long). All you have to do is blink your eyes rapidly for 6-7 seconds or 20-30 times and it will give immediate relief to your eyes.

3. Imaginary Writing:

This is a fun exercise for most children. Give them a word. They have to ‘write’ it with their eyes. They can move only their eyeballs, not their head or neck. This can be done with words, numbers or shapes. It helps improve the eye muscles.

4. Thumb Tracking:

This is another simple but extremely useful exercise for the eyes. Extend the right arm in front of you. Make a fist but keep the thumb extended towards the top, bringing the thumb on the same level as the eyes. Focus the eyes on the thumbnail. Slowly move your arm towards the right till it is extended fully sideways, keeping the focus on the nail. Then slowly bring it back to the front. Repeat with left hand. Try not to blink in between one set. Once the 2 sides are done, close your eyes, rub your palms together and put the warm palms on your eyes before opening them. Repeat 3-4 times. Your eyes might water during this exercise. This is quite normal.

5. Far and Near:

This exercise is great for developing eye muscles and can be done anytime. Focus on an object that is far away. The focus point should be stationery and not too big. It should be as far as you can see an object clearly enough to focus. It can be a tree top or the topmost spire in a building, the top of a far away pole. Keep staring at it for as long as you can without blinking or upto 30 seconds, then bring your eyes to focus on something closeby – your palms perhaps – for 5-10 seconds. Close your eyes, rub your palms together and put the warm palms on your eyes before opening them. Repeat 3-4 times. Your eyes might water during this exercise. This is quite normal.

Other Recommendations

1. Always read in proper lighting

Keep the room lighting in the Goldilock’s zone – not too dark and not too bright, the light should be just right.

2. Minimise screen exposure

Read – Screen-Time: How Much is too Much

3. Do not forget to blink

Blinking keeps the eyes moist, cleans the surface of the eyes, sharpens the eyes and keeps the image formed on retina bright. This is especially important for children when they are playing games on a handheld device, or watching a video closely. It is important to keep blinking.

4. Look away from screen after every few minutes

Take a break from constant staring into a screen and look away for a few moments after every 10-15 minutes.

5. Splash your eyes with cool water

Splash eyes with cool (not cold) water. Preferably use drinking water for splashing your eyes. Do this in the morning without fail and if possible 2-3 more times in the day.

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