Jamuna Rangachari shares information on Vision Yoga, the brainchild of Dr Viram Agarwal, a pioneer in the field of holistic vision therapy
My 59 year old aunt, Seeta Narayan (name changed), now in Mumbai, has always been very close to me. Unfortunately, since her teenage, she has had problems with her eyesight, with she having to change her spectacles every now and then. Though she tried many things to improve it, nothing really worked. In the recent past, she had to go for a cataract operation, which went awry, and the eye that had been operated on, became almost non-functional. She had more or less accepted her fate and only hoped and prayed she would at least be able to see with the other eye.
Grace presented itself when her neighbour told her about one of her relatives who had benefited a lot from Dr Viram Agarwal’s treatment, in Mumbai. She convinced my aunt to visit him at least once, and thus her journey with him began. Very soon, her vision started improving in both her eyes. The reason was doing regular eye yoga exercises that were taught at his centre. Now, she is an ardent and regular practitioner of these eye exercises. She was also amazed by the miraculous experiences of children and elderly people who regained their vision through these techniques.
After hearing all this, I felt I must explore this gentleman’s work and in the process came across many inspiring stories. A couple of them are worth mentioning.
Ahanna Desai, a 20 year old from Mumbai, had to forgo her dream of joining the aviation industry, as she failed the medical tests due to her poor vision. After practising Vision Yoga exercises for four months, her vision improved significantly, and she passed the medical test she had failed earlier due to the weakness of her vision. Her vision is still not perfect, but the prescription number has reduced considerably and she is very happy that she can now follow her dream.
Mrs Tanaz Birdi, 65 from Mumbai, read an article about the doctor in a mainstream paper and went to him as she had lost the ability to see with one eye. Now, her non-functioning eye has improved quite a lot within two months, its prescription number has reduced, and she is certain that it will become even better.
Most of us will agree that no amount of medicines or surgery can replace the benefits of maintaining healthy habits like brushing our teeth, taking a bath, eating nutritious food, and being physically active every day.
Strangely, however, no one has taught us simple ways to maintain eye health and preserve our invaluable natural vision. This lack of awareness, combined with constant exposure to pollution, bright glare from television and mobile screens, long stressful hours in front of computer screens, poor sleeping and eating habits, very often deteriorate the health of our eyes which, in turn, drastically reduces the quality of our vision.
In India, 70 per cent of people run into some kind of eye trouble in their lives. It is estimated that 90 per cent of all individuals in the US will eventually wear glasses at some point in their lifetime. According to international health agencies like WHO (World Health Organisation), AOA (American Optometric Organisation), and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), anywhere between 80–90 per cent of all people who use computers for two hours daily, suffer from CVS (Computer Vision Syndrome). The number of sufferers across the world is now officially more than 40 million, and this number is growing rapidly with IT entering virtually every area of our lives.
In this scenario, vision therapy is included as a part of optometry and is now being highly recommended by international 0rganisations and colleges like COVD (College of Vision Development, USA), ACBO (The Australasian College of Behavioural Optometrists, Australia), BABO (The British Association of Behavioural Optometrists, UK), along with regular corrective eye treatment for better and long-lasting results.
Recognising this fact, ASCO (Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry) has launched a vision therapy course for optometrists, for the first time in India.
Dr Viram Agarwal has been a pioneer in this field for a long time. When he saw that there was not enough focus on improving one’s eyesight, he entered this field in 1997 by doing research at the Sri Aurobindo School for Perfect Eyesight, Pondicherry. He studied the work of the late American ophthalmologist, Dr William Bates, who had done pioneering work on how to naturally invigorate vision in today’s computerised and technology-rich world apart from studying many other alternative therapies. Today he is a member of COVD (College of Vision Development, USA); Indian Board of Alternative Medicines; Trinity College London, UK and many more prestigious institutes having earned doctorates and MDs from them.
A combination of all his study, his programme includes generating awareness about eye health that helps people with issues like retinal disorders, glaucoma, squint, lazy eye, dry eyes, and even simple refractive errors like myopia, hypermetropia, astigmatism, presbyopia, and so on. This programme is unique as it has been designed keeping our current lifestyle in mind. These exercises can be done anywhere, in any kind of clothing, once understood well, can be easily remembered. He also does not include any dietary restrictions.
Essentially, he created Vision Yoga, a holistic method of treating eye disorders, combining modern techniques with Vedic tradition, as given in the Chakshushopanishad (Upanishad for eye health) and Netradwayam (ayurvedic treatment of eye disorders). He has found that eye exercises relax the mind and improve concentration and memory, especially in children. They also work on improving the coordination between the eyes and the brain. This, in turn, reduces strain, thus preventing vision deterioration and the use of glasses.
Dr Agarwal firmly advises people to avoid wearing spectacles all the time and asks them to use glasses only when required, to strengthen the eyes as much as possible. He believes that every school should have eye exercises at least for 15 minutes, thrice a week, so children at an early age can keep their vision natural and healthy.
There are many types of yogas to exercise our body, but not much for the eyes though it is much needed. I wish Dr Agarwal all the best in creating a world that will be free of spectacles and vision issues.
Simple exercises for healthy eyes
Note: Remove spectacles before doing these exercises.
1. Swinging exercise
• Swing your body from side to side with your eyes shut in front of a light source or under the sun.
• Do this 80 to 100 times.
Benefits: It massages the eyeballs and strengthens the eyes.
2. Rope exercise
You would need a rope that is three feet long, and three big beads that could be put on the rope. The beads should be attached leaving a six-inch gap at both the ends, and one should be attached in the middle.
• Ask someone to hold the rope straight in front of you and you place the rope on the tip of your nose.
• Now, look at the first bead near your nose. It should look like a ‘V’.
• Jump to the last bead. It should look like an ‘A’.
• Now look at the one in the middle. It should look like an ‘X’.
• Do this 60 times.
• Blink three times.
Benefits: This is good for the optic nerve. Even if the letters are not visible to you straightaway, continue doing it.
3. Pen exercise
• Make the eye focus shift from front to back, tailing an object, like a pen near your nose.
• Then look far away.
• For children, use a toy instead of a pen.
• Do this 60 to 80 times.
Benefits: It works on the oblique muscles of the eye and helps the lens focus.
4. Focus exercise
• Start reading a number on a calendar while walking away from it till the point it is clearly visible to you.
• When it is blurry, squeeze your eyes hard five times.
• Keep your eyes closed and imagine it as you saw it first.
• Do this twice.
• Repeat it at least three times a day
Benefits: It improves the central fixation of distant objects.
5. Acupressure points
• Press the following points on both hands 10–15 times, three times a day.
• The point between the index and tallest finger on both hands
• The point on top of the thumb, above the nail on both hands
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