Your creative vision will only meet its full potential if your actual vision is strong enough to see the photos you’re taking. As a photographer, your eyes are one of your most important assets, but long hours spent editing in front of computer screens and staring into bright studio lights can take their toll. Luckily, there are ways to mitigate this damage and maintain your eyesight over decades of hard work, here are some easy visual exercises you can do from home.
1. Dot Exercise – I think we’ve all experienced this, after hours being zoomed in to 200% in Photoshop, everything just looks a bit more blurry, little details are harder to spot and accuracy becomes a chore. The best thing to do at this point is take a rest or turn in for the night, but deadlines don’t always allow for this. A quick fix is to first rest your eyes, close them for about 30 seconds and relax. Next, open them and simply open a window of text (or a book) and focus on a single period or comma on the page. Stare at it, and concentrate on making it look as clear as possible. After about a minute of forming an intimate bond with the unassuming pixel, it should appear sharper, and you can go back to hating your life as you clone out another 1000 stray hairs with surgeon-like precision.
Because I care about my readers, I’ll even help you out with this one. Here:
Don’t say I never do anything for you.
2. Palming – Palming is an eye exercise that takes some cues from meditation. Your eyes are constantly straining, and are constantly reacting subconsciously to not only external stimuli, but your own thoughts as well. Relaxing your eyes starts with relaxing your mind, and this method will help you do just that.
Start by washing your hands, because hygiene. Next, close your eyes and cover/cup each eye with your palms, being careful to not actually touch or apply pressure to your eyelids. Rest your elbows on something and get comfortable, you’ll be here for a while.
The next and hardest step is to relax. If you’ve tried meditation before then this will come in handy, clear your mind.
At first you’ll see a sort of muddy greyish shade, but as you relax your mind and eyes, your vision will become darker and eventually completely black. Most guides I’ve seen for this method recommend 15-20 minutes, but you can do it for as long as you want once you’ve reached this point. You should see a noticeable improvement in sharpness, colours, and contrast afterward.
3. Walking/Outdoors – Many visual problems stem from a lack of variety in your focusing distance, your eyes will get used to looking at the screen less than 3 feet away for hours every day and become weaker at further distances. A great way to combat this, and gain a ton of other health benefits is to set aside an hour or more a day to put away the screens, whether it be monitors or phones, and go for a walk. If you’re in a mountainous region, look at them in the distance and try to improve the amount of detail you can see in their features. If not, clouds, trees, or really anything that stands out on the horizon can be great for strengthening your vision (just be careful to watch where you’re going).
4. Contrast training – Studies by Aaron Seitz and Jenni Deveau at the University of California, Riverside’s Brain Games Center for Mental Fitness subjected 17 of the University’s baseball players to a month of daily 25 minute visual exercises involving distinguishing the pattern of a Gabor Patch which has been found to have a correlation with stimulating the visual areas of the brain. The goal was to improve sight to up to 20/7.5, meaning that one could see details at 20 feet that someone with normal (20/20) vision can only make out at 7.5 feet.
Results showed that after implementing this training regimen, the team won an average of 4.7 more games in their 54 game seasons, and players involved in the training showed a noticeable and lasting increase in their statistics over those not participating.
Try it yourself! The app “GlassesOff” is available for both Android and iOS, and promises to increase visual focus for its users. It offers a free evaluation and 1-week trial, and has a monthly fee of US$9.99/mo or US$24.99/3-mo.