When a child is prescribed spectacle correction, there are many questions that the parents ask. Sometimes they express a feeling of guilt that they did not bring the child in for an eye examination sooner.
The guilt extends to the belief that it is something that they did when they were pregnant with the child. And these days questions about whether not monitoring the child’s screen time led to this. One question that is asked repeatedly is if eye exercises will help remove the need for spectacles.
What are these eye exercises that patients believe will lead to a cure for refractive errors? There are traditional systems of medicine (alternative) that claim that certain eye exercises will cure everything from refractive errors to dry eyes and even glaucoma. One does read about anecdotal experiences of miraculous recovery of vision and patients who remain free of spectacles. At the time of writing this article, there have been a few publications in the scientific literature looking into the benefits of traditional yoga, and some from Chinese literature in removing the need for spectacle power in children who have myopia. There is very little of statistical significance that can be applied to everyday practice and recommended to patients.
Yoga has shown some benefit in improving symptoms of dry eyes in computer users.
There is a trial underway looking at effect of guided meditation combined with certain ‘yoga’ like eye excercises, with some modification of environment in adolescent myopia in China. With the surge in myopia in the last decade we are likely to see more clinical trials that use traditional medical therapy (alternative medicine as mentioned in some literature) to prevent onset and progression of myopia, as an adjunct to current accepted treatment or as a stand alone option.
There are eye exercises that work to strengthen weak eye muscles but they do not help to get rid of glasses.
So until we have more proof from randomized control trials about eye exercises and spectacle wear, I am going to tell my patient’s caregivers to ensure that the children wear their glasses as advised and not try therapies of unproven benefit.