Maybe you've seen the ads. You can make your vision better, they say, if you exercise your eyes. The catch: You have to pay for a program that teaches you to work your eyes the way a personal trainer works your body.
These programs claim you'll need your glasses and contact lenses less, if at all. Eye exercises to improve basic vision problems, they say, can help you avoid costly laser surgery.
The truth is, eye experts say, exercises for your eye muscles won't help you see better.
There is no study, no information supporting this claim, yet these programs exist and make money, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO).
If you're nearsighted or farsighted, AAO experts say, the problem is the shape of your eyeball or the cornea (the front surface of your eye). If your eyeball is too long, you're nearsighted, and if your eyeball is too short, you're farsighted. A misshapen cornea can distort your view, causing astigmatism. Weak eye muscles aren't to blame for these conditions.
These claims began many years ago during an era when there was no alternative to glasses. "Contacts became available, followed by a growing list of surgical procedures for refractive changes.
Why do people try these programs? Some people would like to stop wearing glasses but they are surgery-phobic. There's a hefty cost difference, too. An eye exercise program costs a few hundred dollars. Laser surgery can run a couple of thousand or more.
Eye exercise usually involves focusing on print or an object that is close and then on a distant object. It could help farsighted people, but how much is a question. There's a price, too: eyestrain. The majority of people do not benefit.
Farsighted people who accept eyestrain and see a bit better haven't "corrected" their vision with exercise. "They have become more efficient with the vision they already have.