ASHEVILLE, N.C. — After wearing glasses almost their whole lives, Virginia McKinley and Gwen Diehn both say they ditched their frames after taking Eye Yoga.
"By the time I left Nathan's first session, I didn't put my glasses on to drive home. It was a rainy day, and I thought, I wonder if I could unpark my car without glasses," Diehn says. "Yeah, I got in my car and I unparked it. I got on the road, and I thought, I'm fine. And I didn't put them on. I just kinda went cold turkey with glasses."
Eye yoga is a holistic eyecare program also known as the Bates Method where you practice face stretches to relax the muscles which control your eyes.
"We're retraining some of the eye muscles to get better at adjusting the different moving parts of the eyes. The shape of the lens. The shape of the eye," said instructor Nathan Oxenfeld.
He says this is something you can do at home. For example: "Have an interesting object to look at up close like a dandelion flower. Focus on the near point. Take in the colors. Take in the shape. After a few seconds of that, let your eyes relax off into the distance. And take in the distant colors, the distant shapes. Maybe you can even feel your eyes adjust. You're focusing close, focusing far," he said. "The most important application of this is actually with your computer work time. Getting in the habit of looking out the window frequently to let the eye muscles adjust to the difference then come back to your screen."
Oxenfeld also offers free classes on his Youtube page:
Researchers from around the world have found eye exercises can give your vision a slight "performance enhancement" but Harvard Medical School puts it this way: "Exercising eye muscles will not eliminate the most common maladies that necessitate corrective lenses — namely, nearsightedness, farsightedness, astigmatism ... Practiced faithfully, eye exercises may actually help delay the need for glasses or contacts in some people"
Virginia and Gwen know it's an uphill battle getting people to believe.
"I grew up thinking once you start wearing glasses, you always wear glasses. And once your eyesight gets weak, it gets weaker and weaker and there’s nothing you can do," McKinley said. "This works. It was really easy. Just 10 or 20 minutes a day."
"I wake up in the morning and I cannot believe what I can see," Diehn says. "It's like, oh my god, I feel like I have contact lenses on half the time."