If you’ve ever heard of Contrast Hydrotherapy, or of the art of Hot Cold Therapy, you’ve probably heard of it in the context of healing sports and muscle injuries. Hot and cold packs or compresses are commonly used by athletes like soccer / football players, tennis stars and runners, to aid in muscle recovery, especially where repetitive muscle strain is involved.
But it’s not just the muscles in sportsmen’s limbs that are used repetitively and are prone to straining. One of the muscles in the body we use a lot are the eye muscles, and in many of us, the eye muscles are strained, even if we don’t feel it so obviously. So if hot and cold compress therapy helps muscle strain for large muscles in the body, why not also use them for the small eye muscles?
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How to do Hydrotherapy for the Eyes
This is the method recommended in the book “Improve your Vision without glasses”. They suggest the following:
- Set-up: Make up two bowls of water, putting a washcloth in each one. Fill one bowl with hot water (hot but not so hot that it is uncomfortable and scalding), and fill the other bowl with ice cold water. Instead of the cold water bowl, you can just use an ice pack.
- Hot application: Apply the hot washcloth to your closed eyes for 30 seconds.
- Cold application: Apply the cold washcloth or icepack to your closed eyes. The book says to do it for 30 seconds, but most conventional contrast hydrotherapy I’ve read puts the cold compress on for shorter durations than the warm compress, so that’s something to bear in mind. I was thinking that maybe 10 seconds cold could be enough but that’s just my guess from observing the conventional 3:1 time ratio of warm to cold treatments in conventional hydrotherapy. Some people say the time durations don’t matter so much as long as you generally experience the “good and hot” vs “good and cold” alternating feelings.
- Repeat: Repeat the hot and cold applications. The book unfortunately doesn’t specify how many times to repeat the applications but it suggests doing it for about 3 to 5 minutes is a good amount of treatment time. Most conventional hydrotherapy does 3 to 6 rounds, although most conventional hydrotherapy for big muscles also puts the compress on for 3 minutes rather than 30 seconds at a time, so I’m not sure exactly if it translates directly. I guess play it by ear and see how you feel after 3 to 6 repetitions to see if it feels like enough or if you’d like to do more.
- Ending the treatment: Conventional contrast hydrotherapy tends to end with a cold compress if you’re treating inflammation, and it tends to end with a warm compress if there is no inflammation and you’re aiming for achieving relaxation. My guess is that in the case of the eyes, if your eyes feel strained, hot, red and tired, then finishing with a cold compress may be best, whereas if your eyes feel fine and not strained, then finishing with a warm compress may be a nice way to round off the hydrotherapy treatment.
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If you don’t like the idea of putting hot and cold compresses directly on your eyes, an alternative suggestion I thought of is perhaps applying hot and cold packs to the reflexology points on the feet that correspond to the eyes.
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How often should you do Hydrotherapy for the eyes?
With athletic hydrotherapy for large muscles, they say it’s sufficient to do it once a day. Don’t overdo it though because the effectivity of this method is likely to only have minor beneficial effects and this method works best when used as part of a bigger-eye-therapy-plan, used in combination with other eye exercises that treat the bigger picture of eye health.
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Theory behind Hydrotherapy for the Eyes
What’s the logic behind applying hot and cold packs to the eyes? The theory for how it works is this:
- Encourages blood flow to the eyes:
Hot applications expand the blood vessels, and the cold application constricts them. This creates a toothpaste-tube-like action, promoting the pushing of the blood along through the area you’re treating with hot/cold compresses. As the blood flow to the eyes is encouraged, it brings with it nourishing oxygen and nurtients, and carries away the waste-products that may have been stagnating there. The result is a fresher-feeling, better nourished eye area, which may help the eyes function better.
- Hot and cold treatment gives tissues a gentle workout:
By the same principle that cold causes contraction and heat causes expansion, the hot-cold-therapy gives all the tissues in the area a gentle workout. Just as workouts strngthen the body, this kind of micro- workout may help strengthen the area.
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Disclaimer: Everything in this article is material the author has learned from books and online articles and is not a substitute for help from a qualified eyecare professional. Any exercises or recommendations described are applied at the risk and sole responsibility of the reader. The author takes no responsibility for any consequences arising from a reader practising anything recommended on this website.