"> Healthy Vision Is Like Play

Healthy Vision Is Like Play

Think of the focus and concentration of a child building a sand castle on the beach, or playing a game with friends. He or she is totally absorbed, in the moment, paying attention yet not striving or rushing. Healthy natural vision is like this. You are engaged in looking, but you’re not trying or straining to see.

A friend asked me about her 6-year-old granddaughter with occasional amblyopia, with one eye wandering out to the side. I don’t like the common term “lazy eye” for this condition, as the struggling eye is trying so hard to see it’s overwhelmed, and can’t keep looking straight. It’s certainly not lazy! This little girl has already tried some vision exercises which didn’t seem to correct the problem. I’m thinking she needs to return to being a playful child, to re-learn that vision and seeing clearly is fun, not work. Vision games with colorful toys, or a simple game of catch, would be a big help.

Some hard-working adults scoff at the idea of play, and brag about how much they get done on very little sleep. Yet think of the master, the artist creating a masterpiece, or the engineer designing a new computer, or the seamstress coming up with a one-of-a-kind designer dress. They love this “work” — it is their play, which is why they’re so good at it. Like the child in the sandbox, they are absorbed in the task, not forcing themselves to produce. They are “going with the flow”, “in the zone”.


When vision is effortless, it’s just like this. The mind is relaxed but still engaged. You see better than ever, seemingly every detail near and far, and there is no trying or struggle. Seeing is a blend of right-brain creativity and left-brain analysis, a dance between them, neither one constantly leading. It’s just plain fun!

Yesterday I had a long drive with glaring sun low on the horizon. I let my gaze move around easily, from the car ahead to the distant traffic lights, from the shadows of the buildings up to the tops of the few trees bordering the busy road. I appreciated that I was not wearing glasses, which back when I did always seemed to make me strain more, to peer and “try to see”, not letting in the image but going out and grabbing it instead. Vision is about receiving the clear image, not reaching for it. I got home with minimal eyestrain despite the sun glare and heavy traffic, and did some palming right away to thank my eyes.

Are you letting your eyes play? Clear vision comes more from an optimistic attitude and from being present in a relaxed way than from any specific practice, like how often you should blink. Eyes, and brains (where the vision actually happens) just want to have fun!


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Author: Nancy

I wore strong glasses, then contact lenses, from age 5 into my 40s. While making many mistakes, eventually l learned how to improve the way I use my eyes and to see in a more relaxed, healthy manner. It is my pleasure to coach others to do the same. Visit me at https://NancyLNeff.com.

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Marloes Holman

I recommend reading children’s books! It’s fun, play and it relaxes the mind and therefore the eyes.

Nancy L. Neff

Good idea, Marloes. Thanks!

Marloes Holman

I would like to put a swing for adults in my back yard too … Play, fun and movement!
3,5 years ago I started using the Bates Method. I got my first glasses when I was 8 years old and ended up with -10 contact lenses. I find a lot of recognition in your story! And I’m always looking for additional techniques for improving my eyes. Like reading children’s books, works very well for me.

Nancy L. Neff

Yes, movement is essential — I think part of the benefit of being outdoors is not only the long views, but also that you’re naturally moving around more than when you’re sitting at the computer. I think a swing for adults is a great idea!