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Episode 198: Drills to Save Your Vision – Part 1

Video Highlights

- Vision is not the same as eyesight.
- Vision is a trainable skill.
- Four categories of vision skill.

Today, we’re beginning a quick two-part series on saving your eyes.

If you are unaware, March is called Save Your Vision Month in the United States, and at Z-Health, we’ve been talking about vision training for, oh, decade and a half.

We actually think you need to see, not only in March, but all the rest of the year. So, we are going to shoot a quick two-part series for you. Whenever we talk about vision training, one of the things we’re always trying to get across to people, is that vision is not the same thing as eyesight.

Eyesight is what most people think of, they go to the eye doctor, you look at the vision chart, and that’s a test of what’s called Static Visual Acuity.

Interested in more vision training? Check out The Vision Gym.

Vision is actually a compilation of different skills, and what we tell people is that we need to assess and train each of these major categories to make sure that we are working on the entire skill of vision.

So, I’m going to give you a brief rundown on the four categories, and then we’re going to start off today doing drills from two of the different categories.

The four different things we talk about when it comes to vision. Number one is eye movements. So, can you move your eyes with a great degree of accuracy?

The control of your eyes should be hyper-precise, because of the way its wired, so if you have issues with moving your eyes in a certain quadrant or certain areas, that’s something that you want to work on. You have different muscles.

You have six different, what are called, extraocular muscles that move your eyes around, and just like you would not want to leave one part of your body under-exercised, when you did stuff with everything else. Same thing goes true, or hold true, for your eyes.

So, eye movements is category number one.

Category number two is depth perception, or depth judgment as we call it. And, that’s basically your ability to know where things are in space. Really important in like driving, playing sports.

The next category we talk about is visual resolution.

Visual resolution is your ability to see things clearly, and honestly, that’s where most stuff starts. “How well can I look at this stuff up close? Things at a distance, how clearly can I see?” Then finally, we have what’s called peripheral awareness, and that’s your ability to see everything that you’re not looking at.

When we talk about vision and Save Your Vision Month, whenever I hear that I think, “Am I working on my peripheral vision? Am I working on my depth judgment? Am I working on my visual resolution? Am I working on my eye moments?” Because if you want to undertake real vision training, I believe that you should be doing something out of all of those categories, and it varies depending on your level of activity. But, what we want to do, is give you a couple different examples today, of working with the eye movements, and also depth perception.

You will need two tools. One pen and a second pen. All right.

I’ll grab the second pen when we get to the second exercise.

So, you want two pens to do this. You can do it with your fingers, but it actually works better to have a visual target with something written on it. I’m just going to use this handy, dandy Z-Health pen.

So, our first exercise comes out of the eye movements category.

Eye movements, like I said, there’s a lot of different weird things, like saccades and smooth pursuits, when you get into the science of the eyes. But, put very simply, if you think about the idea that you have six muscles around your eyes that should allow your eyes to travel in any direction with a great deal of accuracy. We want to think about, “Are there ways that I can train that and maybe kind of strengthen and stretch the eye muscles a little bit?”

Your first exercise is going to be called Eye Spirals. You’re going to grab a pen. Find something that you can see clearly. All right, so on this pen, I’m going to look at the H in Z-Health.

Close up of woman at eye doctor with the large complex contraption over her eyes and looking at an eye chart.

I’m going to start holding the pen out in front of me, keep my head still, that’s going to be one of the key pieces of this. I’m going to begin making small spirals. All right, so I’m going to bring the pen closer to my eyes and further away. Now, as I do this, I’m trying to keep the picture, the sight picture, very clear of the H. I want to go in each direction.

Now, I’m making the spiral smaller and larger, to make my eyes move in different directions. Now, once I’ve done kind of this basic spiral, I’m going to start to change it. I’m going to do a vertical spiral, so I’ll start large here, bring my eyes down and up. Then I’ll make a smaller, again always staying focused on my vision target. Then after I’ve done this direction, this direction, I then want to do spirals on a diagonal.

So, I’ll start here again, creating this kind of smaller spiral, and then as my eyes, grow more accustomed, I’ll make it larger and larger.

Then, finally, I need to do one in this direction, so I’d be repeating the drill probably utilizing my opposite hand, which turns it into a nice coordination drill, as well.

So, remember. Your basics here are to keep your head still. You can start off with either large or small spirals. It doesn’t matter to me, but we’re kind of taking advantage of two things here. We’re making our eyes move in a very articulate way, a very precise way, but we’re also trying to go through full rings of motion.

So, your end goal with these spirals is to eventually have your eyes traveling to the extremes of the different rings of motion, as if you were standing in the middle of a compass. We want our eyes to go up, down, right, left, and on the diagonals to their full range of motion, and that’s going to give our eye muscles a nice little workout. So that’s a very simple eye movement exercise.

That’s category number one.

For category number two, we’re going to be working on depth judgment.

For that, we’re going to need another pen. This is a simple little exercise. It doesn’t even have a name.

All right, so it’s a really simple idea. But, basically, what we want to recognize is that depth judgment is our ability to differentiate where one object is, in relationship to another object in space. Now, depth judgment, obviously, applies across multiple long distances, but also short distances. So, this is a short distance depth perception drill, utilizing two pens.

Here’s how you’re going to do it.

Again, you get nice and tall, focusing, again, on a letter. Okay, something to give you a very specific visual target. Because you want to make sure that you keep that visual target clear as you’re going through your motions, and that will govern your speed.

Your second pen is just going to be a fixed point in space. So, what we’re going to be doing is combining our eye spiral or the first spiral, but now we’re adding a depth judgment that we have to make.

I’m going to begin with this pen quite close, focused on the H on this pen, and begin a small spiral around the pen in front of me. I’ll make it larger, again, focusing on the letter on this pen. Then I’m going to change the position.

So, as I do this, I actually start to give myself some training in knowing where things are in space and moving around them. Now, I recommend that you then switch hands and repeat the same thing. Because in this particular drill, we’re not just trusting our eyes. We’re also utilizing some information coming from our proprioceptive system and other systems.

But, ultimately, this is a really cool drill, because if you focus on, again, the visual target on your first pen and move your other pen, and require yourself to go around it, it’s going to train that depth perception portion of your visual system.

Again, at these short distances, but I find it to be really, really useful.

So if people have difficulty with reading, meaning they’re always kind of moving the book back and forth, because they’re having a difficult time with resolution, sometimes this depth perception drill actually can make a big difference and help stabilize your visual work.

Now, very simple, very easy to remember in terms of how long and how much to do. What I tell people with the spirals, the first exercise, do five spirals in each direction, working out to your largest ranges of motion.

When it then comes to the depth perception drill, usually 30 seconds to a minute, several times a day is sufficient to actually get a benefit from the exercise.

So those are our first two.

Remember, our four categories of vision. Visual resolution, eye movements, depth perception, and peripheral awareness.

We’ve given you exercises from the first two, eye movements and depth perception. In our next video, we will cover exercises for peripheral vision or peripheral awareness, as well as visual resolution.

Hope this helpful for you.

Remember, March is Save Your Vision Month, but really, every month is, so good luck with these.

If you have any questions, let us know.

Interested in more vision training? Check out The Vision Gym.

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