Can You Really Improve Your Vision with Eye Exercises? : Exclusive Renegade Health Interview with Dr. Jeffrey Anshel

Friday May 25 | BY |
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yoga swing
I wish eye exercises were as enjoyable as this…

I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if those eye exercises that some people talk about will really help my vision…

In this second part of my interview with Dr. Jeffrey Anshel, we discuss eye exercises, the Bates Method, dry eyes, itchy eyes from allergies and homeopathic remedies.

Here’s where you can listen to this interview now (my written comments follow!)…

Listen to Part 2 here:

dr jeffrey anshel nutrition for eyes

Click the play button to start the call:


My comments on this interview with Dr. Anshel…

1. Does the Bates Method work?

I asked Dr. Anshel about the Bates Method for vision improvement. His review was mixed. Dr. William Bates believed — at the start of the 20th century that all eye issues are due to strain. While this is somewhat true and some issues are due to strain and overuse, there are other factors that contribute to poor vision.

Dr. Anshel believes that some of the methods of relaxing the eyes are, in fact, helpful, but they’re not a complete answer. Plus, it’s highly unlikely that this method will take someone from 20/500 to 20/20.

I’ve hesitated to use a technique like this regularly, because it takes a commitment that I’m not willing to make. If I have 15-45 minutes a day to exercise something, it will be my body, not my eyes. For me there is much greater reward in cardiovascular fitness than eye fitness.

But, ultimately, it’s up to you — whatever you chose.

2. Studies show children reading indoors can cause nearsightedness.

This must have been what happened to me.

I was a reader — still am — when I was young. I would play outside all day, then come inside, eat dinner and go up to my room to read.

I didn’t notice that I had poor vision until my grandfather noticed I was squinting to see the TV around the age of 10 or so. I wonder if reading this often caused my vision issues — though I’m assuming that it’s part environmental and part genetic (my mom’s vision isn’t good either.)

On the opposing side of these findings, Dr. Anshel says children who play outside have less vision issues. I wonder if I was never outside what my vision would be…

Another interesting fact shared in the interview is that children and teens from the ages of 8-18 spend, on average, 7.5 hours a day looking at digital images.

That’s a lot of digital images during a developmental time.

3. The best of the Bates Method, the Accommodative Rock.

No, this is not a song that you’ll hear at the Hop. It’s an eye exercise that Dr. Anshel feels is one of the best to come out of Dr. Bates’ work.

Here’s how you do it:

Step 1 – Get a piece of paper with words on it.
Step 2 – Pick a spot about 20 feet away in the distance to focus on.
Step 3 – Cover one eye.
Step 4 – Bring the paper close to your open eye and let your eye focus.
Step 5 – Remove the paper and focus on the spot in the distance.
Step 6 – Once you focus on the distant spot, bring the paper back to your eye to focus on.
Step 7 – Repeat for a minute, then switch eyes.

4. What about the safety of eye surgery, contacts?

Dr. Anshel and I discuss the safety of eye surgery and contacts in detail. Basically, he has no problem with contacts if you wear them as instructed — which means you toss your old ones every two weeks or so.

I wear contacts and want to agree with him, but I still kind of feel like there’s something really wrong about putting plastic in my eyes every day. For convenience and sports, it makes sense, but I think it’s time for me to get a new pair of glasses — even though I will likely completely destroy them by sitting, stepping or laying on them in 4-6 months.

Dr. Anshel also explains a story about a guy like me who wanted to get eye surgery because he was active and didn’t want to wear contacts and glasses. The surgery worked for his nearsightedness, but now he has to wear reading glasses, because it changed his close up vision.

I personally have no interest in eye surgery. I’d rather wear glasses than have someone stick lasers in my eyes — no matter how safe the procedure is supposed to be.

6. Don’t use eye whiteners.

Eye whitening drops that take care of bloodshot eyes are just a temporary fix to an internal issue. When you use whitening drops, the chemicals in the product constrict your eye’s blood vessels and in the short term make your eyes whiter. In the long term, though, they make your eyes even more bloodshot.

Generally, bloodshot eyes mean poor sleep, dehydration, too much to drink, too much marijuana, long flights and bad nutrition. So if you fix some of those, you might find you don’t need some drops to make your eyes look pretty and white.

7. A homeopathic remedy for eye allergies.

Dr. Anshel discusses a homeopathic remedy for eye allergies called Natural Ophthalmics (full disclosure — he’s on the board.) This product can help reduce the itchy, redness caused by allergens. For me, this is interesting, because I’ve never had seasonal allergies before, but this year I have. Maybe because Berkeley is filled with flowers (and pollen) I’ve never been around. I don’t know, but it’s been quite a humbling experience.

Luckily, they’re now on their way out, but next year, I may try this product.

There’s also a product you will find in the health food store called Similasan. This is another homeopathic remedy that’s worth a shot.

8. A natural way to treat dry eyes.

You can work with dry eyes by addressing the dryness, or you can work nutritionally. Dr. Anshel recommends a product called Biotears. This product contains nutrients that help make your eyes moist.

Obviously, a great diet helps, but if you can’t get the relief you need, maybe this product is good for you.

9. Where do you find a good eye doctor with a natural approach?

I knew you were going to ask, so here’s the answer…

Visit the Ocular Nutrition Society here to look for a natural eye care doctor:

Your question of the day:

If you want more information about Dr. Anshel, please be sure to visit his website here.

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. carvacrol says:

    Your question of the day is missing!

  2. Hey Kev,

    Great to hear from a colleage of mine with the Ocular Nutrition Society ! Our local health food store here carries the Similasan line of eye drops. I also prescribe Biotears for my patients with dry eyes. It works well on most people, but works better when combined with drops and good eyelid hygiene. I had LASIK surgery done on my eyes about 10 years ago – best thing I ever did ! I was VERY nearsighted. I had a monovision surgery done where my one eye was slightly undercorrected so I don’t need reading glasses, at least maybe until I’m 60 ! I’m 52 now and still able to read without glasses ! It worked well for me !

  3. Carole says:

    I figure that eyes are muscles, and all muscles benefit from exercise. The stronger the muscle, the less problems you’ll have.

    But yeah, 45 minutes a day is impossible.

  4. Michaelb says:

    Just my experience. I used the Bates Method for three months under the direction of an Optometrist 3 x per week sessions plus multiple daily home sessions. zip

  5. Lynne M. Harrington-Crick says:

    Yes, I know for a fact from my own personal experiences doing those eye exercises using the Bates Method and going to a great vision therapist for years has made dramatic improvement in my eyes as well as improvement in academic achievement in school. When I was a teacher in elementary school I saw a student of mine change from being a real discipline problem to someone who became my best student after he went to a vision therapist that I had recommended to his mother. It works and it can be a very worthwhile program to do.

    There is a great vision therapist here in San Diego (La Jolla) who has a lab that has so many fun apparatus to play with it seems like you are in an amusement park…better than an amusement park! Dr. Claude Valenti is his name.

  6. Lynne M. Harrington-Crick says:

    He has many great testimonials and recommendations. He also travels internationally and gives lecture demonstrations about his work.

  7. Joseph says:

    I, too, had LASIK ~12 years ago… back in the ‘dark ages’ of it. It brought me from 20/350 (pretty bad!) to 20/20. More or less, I still have *fantastic* vision – although my eyesight does come&go depending on diet, stress, sleep, etc.

    Probably the hardest thing on me is all the hours I spend on the computer every day. Coming up on 40, I can feel my eyes getting worse, and daily eye strain from my job. Think I *will* add these exercises to my regimen. Thanks so much for the interview & posting!

  8. Brynda Bechtold says:

    Yes! back when I was 15, I went for the driving permit, had to get glasses. One eye was 20/30 and one 20/100. Changed diet and started meditating when I left home and decided to “heal” my eyes. During breaks between classes, I’d sit and focus on a distant object and walk my eyesight to the space before my eyes, just a few minutes. At age 25, no longer needed glasses to pass the eye exam. Now at age 60, have never used glasses and my eyes are a little better than 20/30. Still do the exercises, mostly in church, and sometimes my vision suffers from not doing it often enough. I can even do them with my eyes CLOSED!! I’m sure phytonutrients helped but I do think the exercises are important!

  9. roni says:

    the short answer: yes. you can.

    the longer answer:
    in 1984, I went a a weekend workshop called “revisioning” led by a holistic opthamologist. (Wish I could remember his name – Bruce something in New jersey)
    It was kind of a blend of Bates Method exercises and EST processing…

    Prior to this, I was almost legally blind on the left side and not so great on the right. pretty significant mypoia. Wore glasses since about 4th grade.

    I started to get religious about the exercises (I rode a bus to work in those days, which was the perfect place to do the exercises.) I did about 6 that weren’t TOO conspicuous, and did sunning (Vitamin D intake) and palming outside at lunch breaks.

    after about 2 months of this I started getting headaches. So I took off my glasses – and to my surprise, could see just as well without them, and no more headaches! I went and got retested by an eye doctor, and the numbers had improved significantly – so well, that I no longer needed glasses for driving or reading.

    So I’ve been without glasses now for 27 years. A few times, I have felt my vision slipping – and I start with some exercises again for a while. Now I am even a little farsighted – which I am told is how vision changes with age. I still have some trouble with night vision – but I strongly suspect that is not visual acuity related, but rather an unrecognized form of dyslexia – difficulty processing in the cones / rods…

    And I have to disagree on one point here – I think the most important exercise is palming, and in daylight – see John Ott’s book Health and Light for more info.

    Other books related to this that I’ve also used are Visionetics by Lisette Scholl, and The Art of Seeing by Aldous Huxley, who was able to extend his writing career by 2 decades after working with Dr. Bates.

    paz y luz y’all from Costa Rica.

  10. Nora says:

    Rather than eye exercise, how about an exercise for the eyes? EFT! Dr. Carol Look has even written a book on how EFT can improve eyesight. Start tapping to release emotions (fear, anger, guilt, etc.) pent up in the eyes and improve your vision.

  11. Rona says:

    I had Lasik and it is the worst thing I’ve ever done. My eyes are now dry and veiny most of the time and I can’t see as well as I use to. The up side of this whole ordeals was I began to take care of my health and totally changed my diet. This was made possible by reading on improving my eye sight naturally. The reason why I think it works so well for some and not as much for others is because there are sometimes emotional issues that cause bad vision when you are a child. If you don’t deal with those things as well, it won’t work. For me it was my mothers suicide when I was 8. I never really dealt with her death and my vision went bad shortly after. As soon as I got the Lasik, these emotions just came rushing back to me, like it was trapped in my eyes all these years.

  12. sharon says:

    I, too, believe that “issues” can be a problem with eyes. My issue is with “letting go,” and I have glaucoma. I hold on to everything including the ocular fluids which raise the pressure in my eyes. However, I’m 69 and have 20/20 vision. I have done yogic eye exercises for decades so is it because of the exercises that my vision is good? Ya never know. 🙂

  13. Jessy says:

    I firmly believe that wearing corrective glasses everyday makes the eyes weaker. I noticed this phenomenon at the age of 9 when I was prescribed glasses for astigmatism for the first time. I wore them for 1 week everyday, and by the end of the week, each time I took them off, my vision felt progressively worse. So I just stopped wearing them, and kept not wearing them, in spite of being told by well meaning adults that my vision would get worse if I did not wear them.

    I have worn glasses infrequently over the years, and my vision has not gotten worse. I tend to use them at night when driving, but never during the day. I also discovered the Bates Method in my 20s and used some of the techniques with great success. My eyes have not gotten worse, unlike all the people who I know wear glasses, they keep needing stronger prescription glasses every year or every other year. None of those people ever stop to think that maybe it’s because the corrective lenses ARE A CLUTCH. Corrective lenses are palliative, they are not designed to strengthen the eyes so they don’t really address the root of the issue.

    I did notice that when I overdose on sweets, my vision tends to get blurry, and it doesn’t matter if those are natural sweets or processed sweets. I have to limit my sweets. Proper diet is essential to someone with eyes problem.

  14. Jamie says:

    I have also experienced allergies for the first time , Kevin! It’s been all eyes too–puffy, red, itchy eyes. I’ve been to the eye doctor, the dermatologist and an allergist-all wanted me to take some form of steroid. Ugh! Whats your opinion on local honey? Thanks for some natural solutions-I’m ordering them now!

  15. satori says:

    finally found the way to find a holistic eye doctor. Thanks Kevin for this interview. I was always struggling with my eye itchiness too. Dr. Anshel is great and he looks like my favorite uncle. really. lol.

  16. Gini says:

    My speakers went out so I couldn’t do the vidseo but read your summary(thank you for including that). I am using pinhole glasses while watching TV and also do eye exercises while wearing them. I’ve only been doing it a short time but am already noticing a difference. My problem is too much time at the computer monitor so my eyes are not getting a chance to focus at varying distances like they should. The pinhole glasses give me a break from my regular glasses and relieve my eye stress. I will continue using them and doing the exercises because I really think they are helping.

  17. joe says:

    a good eye drop 5 part destiled water 2 part of lemon or lime remove cateract. an other one =5 part destiled water 2 part honey
    1 part apple cider vinegar.

  18. Hubert says:

    I’m surprised not te hear about one of the best explanations for structural unfocused vision (bad eyesight that is). While growing up our eyes don’t get the right nutrition (mostly due to too much sugar so too little minerals, and too little good fats). So the tension inside the eye goes wrong and the right focus goes lost. The lesn becomes to long or too short. It’s a diet thing basically which can be influenced/worsened by emotions that can force the muscles inside the eye to go in cramp at that young age.

  19. You have had a very good input by our readers andit is very useful. As you are in the picture in this article, people were suspended from trees upside down in Africa, years back , forcuring their diseases perhaps, eye diseases also. BECAUSE IT HELPS BLOOD FLOW TOTHE EYES.
    Due to keeping high pillows forthe kids, from the ageof 3y
    Due to not taking cold waterbath forthe head daily — bcas allop docs advise take itonce in a week otherwise you willcatch cold.
    Due to lackof neck exercises- rearview mirror in allvehicles spoiled this movement on the neck.Stillin the country sides of India, I can see bike riders turning back tolook if any vehicle is coming nearer ornot.
    Due to lack of nutrition needed fortheeyes.
    Due to lack of chances forseeing distance vision due to crowdingof cities streets etc
    Due to heating up of the eye without facewashing in the evenings after school or office.
    Due to the shampoos, conditioners, black dyes that all go to heat up the scalp and the eyes.
    Due to avoiding theusage of leaves of hibiscus or fenugreek soaked for washing hair.
    Due to air pollution resulting in hair pollution.
    Due to not taking bath in the evening after travelling thru dusty environ.
    Due to hurried baths.
    Due to Not applying of virgin coconut oil on the head.
    My friend a reiki healer CAN RECITIFY EYE DEFECTS surely, in India, but Iam sure NOONE can follow all his exercises that he tells andthat willtake more than 4 hrs perday.


  20. Kuru says:

    Kevin, I’ve been reading your blog for a few years, and you continue to be so resistant to eye exercises. Why would you be such a believer in exercising the body but not the eyes? If you would just get the hang of them, you’d see you can do them anytime, anywhere. Standing in line at the grocery store, watching a movie, even driving. Learning to do eye exercises is like learning pilates; once you get it, you just do them. Make friends with your eyes. I agree that emotion gets stuck there, as it does in the liver, which relates directly to the eyes in Chinese Medicine.

    These posts were more valuable than the interview, imo. Dr. Anshel is so allopathic: he didn’t mention palming at all (as one poster mentioned, one of the best ways to improve eyesight), he says we’ll all get cataracts, and to always listen to your doctor. And he was very casual about the ways nutrition can change your vision. Liver cleanses will bring your vision into phenomenal sharpness.

    I got to know my eyes when I took out my contacts and did exercises in preparation for the Lasiks surgery. It was a big success, giving me far and near improvements (I believe that was because of the 3 months preparation). 12 years later I don’t need glasses for anything, and I’m 67. I love to work (play) with my eyes!

  21. Zlata says:

    Why nobody mention work of Meir Schneider.
    From legaly blind to full vision thanks to exercises

  22. Nicole- Australia says:

    Kevin, I would love to hear more on Glaucoma. My mum is about to loose her sight as its declining very quickly all the conventional methods are not working!!! Thanks

  23. Sue says:

    Having just come through surgery for a detached retina, I am very interested in what more I can do to save what remains of my vision! I am a firm believer in getting outside on a daily basis for overall health, including vision health.

  24. HawaiiAna says:

    For years my Dad has been telling me about his friend, who restored his eye sight (he was almost blind) with nothing more than regular eye exercises. My best friend told me of a girl she knew personally, who did the same. All it takes is firm resolve and dedication, but, alas, I’m too lazy…
    Ok, cross that, I’ve BEEN too lazy. Until now. That’s it! I’m doing it!!!
    Thanks Kevin and all you guys for inspiration!

  25. Marj says:

    I love this article. I happened to buy a book on how to improve your vision with eye exercises. Luckily i had kept a pair of old glasses from 20 years ago. I started to do the exercises at the beginning and then i got lazy but i never stopped exercising them even if it was just for 10min or more. Every where i went i exercised them and didn’t have to go to the gym….hahahah. Guess what happened? My eyes got better. It works. I had my eyes checked recently and my vision hasn’t got worse.I suppose to have progressive nearsighteness!!!

  26. Devi says:

    I haven’t followed his exercises for the eyes but I had a problem with my retina (unknown cause) and everytime I feel like my eyes are getting stiff I do some eye excercises and it really does seem to help. It makes sense since eyes are held in by muscles right?

  27. William M. says:

    Great interview. I think that eye exercises are as important as relaxing the eye.

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