Only the bespectacled among us will understand the comforts of a clear vision. For, however convenient or cool they might seem, glasses, contact lenses or surgery do come with their own share of failings.
A Mecca for such souls is The School for Perfect Eyesight at Puducherry which, since 1968, has been helping people with refractive errors like Myopia, Hyperopia, Presbyopia and Astigmatism improve their eyesight through simple eye exercises.
During a week-long therapy session, a patient is put through a routine of seven to eight eye exercises, based on Bates method of alternate therapy, twice a day.
Dr Sushil Pani, consultant doctor at the therapy centre, says the exercises are essentially meant for de-stressing patients rather than striving to achieve a zero power.
“You can also call them a kind of yoga that helps in relaxing a stress ridden mind. Some of them like ‘palming’ are so easy that they can be done at any time of the day.”
So, a 45-minute therapy session begins with Sun Treatment where one has to stand facing the sun with their eyes closed and sway their body gently from one side to the other like a pendulum. It is followed by palming of the eyes, eye massage and other exercises such as candlelight reading, game of ball and distant chart reading. Patients wrap up a session with a vapour pack followed by a soothing cold pack.
We meet 9-year-old Tarini from Bengaluru who had come with her parents to take therapy for myopia. Within three days of therapy the little girl, who could barely read the third line of the alphabet chart on her first day, could comfortably read the fifth line.
“We didn’t lose time rushing here soon after Tarini was diagnosed with myopia because it is always better to treat a problem in the nascent stage instead of letting it grow. Miraculously, the power of Tarini’s glasses has gone down from minus 4 to minus 2,” says Tarini’s mother Neelam.
Dr Pani agrees that results of therapy vary from person to person and are marked and quick in younger patients as compared to the elderly.
“Even though the therapy centre is open to all, we encourage patients in the age group of 7-21 because it is the time span during which the human body undergoes several changes and can be introduced to healthy habits, which otherwise is difficult to achieve in older patients or those having heredity reasons,” says Dr Pani.
Adding that heredity and environmental factors are the chief reasons behind refractive errors, Dr Pani says the therapy mostly deals with correcting the latter.
“Despite the exercises being simple ones which can be taught in a day, we recommend a week long session not only to map the rate of improvement in a patient but also help them to get rid of their faulty lifestyles,” he says.
One of their efforts is to force blink patients through exercises. “Due to incessant exposure to digitals screens, we often forget to blink for long durations. As a result the tear film, which keeps the cornea moist, dries up leading to various visual disorders,” he explains.
The entire week thus requires patients to completely relax their eyes by shunning any form of digital media or late night readings.
On the completion of the course patients are asked to make the morning and evening exercise regimen and washing eyes five to six times a week part of their routine, as well as include fruits and green vegetables such as spinach, fenugreek leaves and amla and aloe vera juices in their diet.
The entire therapy being free of cost. Those desiring to come down to Puducherry for the therapy can intimate therapy school authorities by phone (0413-2233659) or mail in advance and request for accommodation in Aurobindo Ashram guest houses.