In the book “Improve your Vision Without Glasses or Contact Lenses”, they recommend a technique called eye “Pumping” which is essentially a deliberate near-to-far focusing exercise.
I’ve read variations of this technique that are recommended by several eyesight-improving experts including Todd Becker on his site, gettingstronger.org and Alex Frauenfeld from the Frauenfeld Clinic and the website, endmyopia.org. Instead of calling it “pumping”, Alex calls this distant-focus-near-focus method “focus pulling” & “focus pushing” (or sometimes he calls it “pulling focus” & “pushing focus”), and I’ve seen others call it the “alternate focusing technique”, the “shifting focus technique” and the “re-focus exercise”.
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How to do the Pumping eye focusing exercise:
1.) Near focus:
Pick an object that’s near you at a distance of about 6 inches, or 15 cm away from you). It can be an object on your desk; it can be your hand, a piece of jewelry you have on – anything you have handy. Focus on this for 2 seconds, examining it in detail.
2.) Distant focus
Pick something that’s far away from you, at a distance that’s slightly blurry but that you can still kind of see. Examples of objects you can choose for distant focus may be an object or book on the shelf at the other end of the room, a tree branch outside the window, a road sign, the edge of a building or the numberplate of a car. Focus on this for 2 seconds, examining it in as much detail as you can.
3.) Alternate Near and Distant Focus
Every 2 seconds, change your eyes focus from near to distant object, essentially “pumping” near-far-near-far, between the objects.
The book recommends to do this eye exercise for about 3 minutes at a time, and you can do it several times a day to really give your eyes’ ciliary muscles a good workout.
Other experts don’t specify that you need to alternate 2-second focus intervals and don’t specify the exact time periods to dedicate to close-up vs distant focus. There is room to experiment with “pumping” at your own speed.
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Supplementary notes for this exercise:
The book didn’t specify whether to do this exercise with or without glasses, or what to do if you can’t see very far without glasses. Here’s my personal extrapolation for possible ways to do this exercise regarding whether you do it with or without glasses:
(i.) without glasses: Depending on your eyesight, the “distant” object that’s on the edge of your blur-zone may be still quite near to you (say 30cm or less away). That’s ok – Personalize this exercise to practice with your blur zone and hopefully over time your blur-zone distance will increase.
(ii.) with undercorrected glasses: Particularly for people starting the eye-healing process with stronger prescriptions, part of your vision therapy method probably involves using undercorrected glasses to gradually improve your eyes. You can use this Pumping exercise with undercorrected glasses to allow you to practice focusing on more distant objects whilst still challenging and training your eye a little through the slightly undercorrected lenses.
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How does this eye focusing exercise work?
The idea is that by alternating near and distant focus, it is like sending the ciliary muscles in your eyes to the gym to get stronger. (NB the ciliary muscles are the muscles in charge of eye focus.)
In eyesight jargon, the “Improve your Vision” book states that exercising the ciliary muscles in this way will “increase the accomodative amplitude, extend the nearpoint and farpoint, and change the refractive status of the lens”.
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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.