Recently I have been thinking more about how the eye actually works and how the ciliary muscle changes depending on the distance you are looking at. It’s common knowledge that in order to see something clearly far away the ciliary muscle (which controls the shape of the lens in the eye) relaxes and the lens becomes thinner and less convergent to allow the rays to travel a longer optical path length as they enter the eye so that they can converge on a point nearer the retina.
Although many people understand this they still get caught up in trying to see things clearly right away when looking far away. If you have been looking at things close up all day with great clarity then your ciliary muscle expects to remain that way to allow you to see your “optimum distance” of clarity. Therefore, the ciliary muscle becomes sort of frozen which, in turn, means that there is really only a very small range of distances your eye looks at with comfort. So instead of looking into the distance you’ll look at things nearer to you and even if you do look into the distance, much of the time the ciliary muscle remains in that frozen state so you’re not really seeing beyond a particular distance. Things take time and the way in which we use our eyes is something that has developed over the entirety of our lives. Therefore, by simply changing our habits on one occasion we can’t expect to make any lasting improvement in terms of clarity. This can be frustrating as we don’t want to have to live our lives constantly thinking about vision improvement.
The major turning point for me was recognising that regardless of clarity when I’m looking at distant objects, my ciliary muscle is starting to relax. I’ve become obsessed with the idea that looking around my environment and into the distance it prevents my ciliary muscle reaching that frozen state. This means that the lens becomes more flexible and I’m more comfortable with looking at a range of distances. So I want to reiterate my point, I think that if you make a conscious effort to shift your thinking towards, “looking at distant objects relaxes my eyes” then it will be true. However, as long as you think that clarity is the sole factor that determines the eyes being in a relaxed state, then you will stick to your old habits and ways of seeing that you’ve being doing for years in order to optimise your eyesight for modern day usage (computers, smart phones etc).
Furthermore, next time you look into the distance be aware, beforehand, that the very action of looking far away is relaxing your eyes even if the image is not immediately clear. Even if it doesn’t clear up just looking far away is good for the muscles of the eyes and will reduce strain as long as you let go of the notion that everything has to be seen with perfect clarity. Become more obsessed about the idea of keeping your eyes relaxed throughout the day and it will do more for you in terms of improving your eyesight than obsessing over the idea of clarity. Realise how different it feels when the eyes are relaxed, how the whole face and body also feel relaxed, you may even start to associate this relaxing feeling with looking far away. Recognise the feelings of strain in your eyes when you are at the computer for 3-4 hours at a time and do something about it. Take a break, look around the room for a little while. Little actions like these throughout the day will do wonders for your eyes. Remember that the eyes weren’t meant to function looking at things less than 1m away from ourselves all day long.
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