Vision Training: Eye Exercises for Stronger Eyes and Improved Vision

Mar 11, 2024
 – Besser Eye Care Team
  • Eye Health

Discover what science says about vision training. Plus eight eye exercises patients can try at home.

It is well known that training and exercise can strengthen certain muscle groups. Does this hold true for a patient's eyes? While infomercials and folk wisdom may claim vision training and certain eye exercises improve vision, there is not much hard science to back this up.

Related: What Is a Visual Acuity Test + What Does 20/20 Mean?

However, this does not mean that all eye exercises are useless. Some reports show that visual exercises can prevent eye strain, improve certain conditions, and generally make the eyes feel more comfortable.

Can eye exercises fix vision problems?

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), eye exercises have not been proven to make vision sharper. Many of these exercises were first used in a process called vision training to treat children having difficulty learning to read and write, and later passed on to adults. There has been little conclusive evidence that vision training works in either group.

This is especially true for patients suffering from refractive errors such as myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The most effective way for patients with these refractive errors to enjoy clearer vision is through glasses, contacts, or refractive surgeries such as lasik and refractive lens exchange.

Related: Refractive Eye Surgeries: 5 Interesting Facts To Know

What vision problems can eye exercises help with?

While vision training and eye exercises may not correct refractive errors like myopia and hyperopia, they can be helpful for patients with convergence insufficiency.

This is a condition where the eyes do not work together to focus on nearby objects. Certain eye exercises like pencil pushups may help patients' eyes work together and allow them to enjoy close vision activities like reading.

Some evidence also suggests eye exercises can help correct conditions such as amblyopia (lazy eye) and certain types of eye strain.

Specific eye exercises

There are a variety of eye exercises which are reported to help certain eye conditions and issues. The evidence supporting some of these exercises is dubious.

If a patient is suffering from a particular eye condition their best course of action is always to schedule an appointment with their eye doctor to receive a formal diagnosis and treatment.


An eye exercise that is meant to reduce fatigue by relaxing the muscles around the eye. To begin, patients will rub their hands together to generate warmth. The patients will then close their eyes and put their palms over each eye.

Without applying too much pressure, patients are instructed to leave their cupped hands in this position and breathe deeply for several minutes.


This eye exercise is often recommended for office workers who spend many hours a day staring at a screen. Excessive screen time can reduce the rate that patients blink, causing the eyes to become tired and dried out.

Related: Are LED Lights Safe For Your Eyes?

Patients are recommended to take a small break from their device and make a conscious effort to blink. While blinking, patients should hold their eyes tightly shut for several seconds.

This blinking exercise can help lubricate a patient's eyes, create and spread tears, and prevent conditions such as dry eye.

Pencil push-ups

An eye exercise used to get both eyes aimed on the same fixed point. It can come in handy when treating conditions like convergence insufficiency, where the eyes have difficulty focusing on a single point.

To conduct this eye exercise, patients should place a pencil at arms length. Patients are then instructed to focus on the tip of the eraser while slowly moving the pencil towards their nose. The goal is to keep the eraser in focus as long as possible and stop when vision begins to blur.

Man doing eye exercises

Near and far focus

The goal of this eye exercise is to improve focus and flexibility in the eyes. Patients should hold their thumb around 10 inches away from their face and focus on it for 15 seconds.

After the 15 seconds are up, patients will shift their vision to an object in the distance (around 20 feet) and focus on the far object for 15 seconds before returning to the thumb.

Figure eight

This eye exercise is intended to help patients improve tracking objects with their eyes. Patients can complete the exercise by trying to outline the number eight with their eyes.

They should pick a point in the distance—around 10 feet away—and trace the number eight at that point with one of their eyes. Patients will continue tracing the figure for around thirty seconds before switching directions and repeating the same exercise.

20-20-20 Rule

An eye exercise aimed at those who use near vision frequently in their work and daily life such as computer programmers and other knowledge workers. Overuse of near vision can strain the eyes, causing fatigue and dry eye.

In periods of intense near focus, patients are instructed to take a break every 20 minutes. During this break they should look at a target 20 feet away for a total of 20 seconds. This is said to alleviate eye strain.

Brock sting

This is an eye exercise invented by the Swiss eye doctor Frederick Brock to train the visual system.

A Brock string is a looped piece of string tied to a door knob with three beads. Patients are instructed to position the three beads at different lengths: the first bead should be by the door knob, the second 2-5 feet away, and the third 6 inches from the patient's nose.

The patients can conduct a number of exercises with the bead and string in these positions that may help with focus and visual alignment.

Barrel card

A barrel card may help a patient's eyes work together to view near objects. These cards have red and green targets printed in opposing directions.

Patients are instructed to hold the card next to their nose so the shapes align horizontally. The patient will then first focus on the shape furthest away, allowing the different colored shapes to overlap.

After five seconds they will move to the middle shape and conduct the same exercise, and then move to the shapes closest to them. The goal is for patients to complete the eye exercise several times until the eyes are relaxed and focused.


If you would like to learn more about vision training and eye exercises for improved vision, please contact us to book an appointment with Eduardo Besser, MD. Our offices are located in Culver City, Los Angeles County.

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