Can you improve your eyesight?

Myth check: can we improve our eyesight through exercise?

Can you train your eyes to see better and, above all, sharper again? There are eye trainers who claim that. But is there anything to it? A look at these and other facts about vision

We care for our arms, legs and face. But we hardly care about our eyes. You can actually do something for your own eyesight.

But how much is possible? Some say that you can specifically train your eyes so that you can see better again. Is this really possible? And is there any point in doing without glasses?

Four Eye Health Claims Fact Checked.

Claim 1: The performance of the eyes can be improved with special exercises.

rating: Very questionable.

Facts: It is clear that the way we live also influences our eyes. "A healthy lifestyle promotes eye health in the long term," says ophthalmologist Ludger Wollring. However, he takes a critical view of targeted eye training.

Because astigmatism or myopia, for example, cannot be changed by training, explains Wollring: "Vision training may help you get used to the ametropia temporarily, but it does not eliminate it." The expert from the professional association of ophthalmologists in Germany explains: “The habit goes back to the processing of the visual impression in the brain. But this effect is not permanent. " The reasons: Curvature of the cornea, which is initially noticeable through headache and eye pain and later through blurred vision, occurs when the surface of the eye is not evenly curved in all directions like a ball, but different radii are curved to different degrees. Wollring: "Then the surface looks more like that of an egg."

Myopia, on the other hand, is usually due to the fact that the eyeball is too long in relation to the refractive power of the cornea and lens, so that the light rays do not meet on the retina, but in front of it. "With visual aids, both astigmatism and nearsightedness can usually be corrected excellently," says Wollring. But not with eye training, that's his point of view.

The vision trainer Alfred Josef Mühlbacher from Tyrol answered the question of whether you can improve your eyesight through targeted training with a resounding “yes”. Simple, gentle eye movements that can be integrated into everyday life help, as Mühlbacher says. "You shouldn't exaggerate anything." Eye training has proven to be particularly effective in strengthening and improving eyesight in the case of nearsightedness and farsightedness, astigmatism and dry eyes, the "office eye syndrome", he claims.

According to the online portal "Medizin transparent", which is supported by the independent scientific network Cochrane Austria, according to current studies, no preventive or therapeutic effect from eye training can be assumed in the case of myopia. According to the assessment, there is no corresponding proof of effectiveness for most eye diseases. Dangerous side effects are also not to be expected from the training.

Claim 2: Staring at the screen for a long time strains the eyes.

rating: Correct.

Facts: Staring for hours at the cell phone, at the screen of the game console or at the computer can tire your eyes, says eye trainer Mühlbacher. "They begin to tear, cramp and it has been proven that they lose their full visual performance."

Ophthalmologist Wollring also recommends avoiding “gaze monotony” and thus “office eye syndrome”: “If you stare at a screen for hours, dry eyes and tension can occur. You should take regular breaks, let your gaze wander and consciously look at objects from a greater distance, ”he advises. "That relaxes the eye muscles"

In addition, the eyes blink less than usual when working on a computer screen. «As a result, the tear fluid is not sufficiently distributed on the surface of the eye and the eyes dry out. So you should consciously blink more often. " The ophthalmologist recommends that children spend at least two hours outside in daylight every day. "This reduces the likelihood that they will be nearsighted."

Claim 3: If you do without visual aids, your eyes get used to the ametropia.

rating: Not correct.

Facts: Doing without glasses or contact lenses to get your eyes used to the required visual performance doesn't help. "You won't get your eyes used to something," explains ophthalmologist Wollring. “Myopic people often unconsciously close their eyes to see more clearly, or they change their posture. Both provoke headaches and tension, ”explains the expert.

In children, according to the ophthalmologist, it is particularly important to ensure optimal correction of the ametropia so that, for example, progression of the nearsightedness can be avoided.

Claim 4: Lifestyle affects eye health.

rating: Correct.

Facts: A healthy lifestyle is definitely beneficial. Eye diseases such as glaucoma and cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and diabetic retinal diseases develop slowly and can be influenced, as Wollring emphasizes.

“Regular exercise, a varied, vitamin-rich diet and avoiding nicotine are all part of it. Carrots, for example, contain a precursor of vitamin A, which is important for the retina of the eye, ”explains the ophthalmologist. And he recommends green leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach: "They contain lutein, which protects the retina from damage at the point of sharpest vision, the macula."

The overall conclusion

You can do a lot of good for your eyes and should relax them again and again, for example while working on the screen. However, there is hardly any scientific evidence that eye training helps with illnesses. If you still want to try it, you don't have to fear any dangerous side effects.

Angelika Mayr, dpa