Here is a simple way to first of all find out if you are astigmatic and, if so, exercises for you to alleviate the condition. All the charts mentioned may be downloaded free from http://www.vision-training.com/en/Download/Download.html
By Leo Angart
Astigmatism occurs when your cornea is not perfectly round and the image is focused both on the retina as well as behind the retina. You will see this as a shadow or a doubling of what you are looking at. Sometimes vertical lines appear to tilt.
In most cases astigmatism is due to cornea distortion due to an uneven stress pattern among the four muscles located around and in front of the eyes.
Where is the tension in your eyes?
This exercise is designed to gently lessen the stress in your eye-muscles before attempting more strenuous exercises. The objective is to induce flexibility in the muscles.
1. Place your thumbnail straight ahead in front of your eyes. Your thumb should be less than the width of your hand from your face. Some may not see the thumbnail clearly. This is all right since we only want to exercise the muscles.
2. Now very slowly move your thumbnail straight up, keep your head still and follow the thumb up as far as you can see. Then, very slowly, move your thumb straight down. Continue to move your thumbnail in the various angles shown on the drawing.
3. When you have done this one round then relax your arm and eyes for a moment. When you are ready, do the same exercise again but this time synchronise your movements with your breathing. As you are moving your thumb up, inhale and as you are moving your finger down towards the centre, exhale as slowly as you possibly can. Notice how your entire body begins to relax, including your eyes.
4. Do this exercise with synchronised breathing once in a clockwise direction and once in a counter-clockwise direction.
Did you notice that moving in some angles is more difficult than in others? This is an indication that your eye muscles are less flexible in those angles. Check your progress on the astigmatism chart.
How do you know if you have astigmatism?
The simplest way to check for astigmatism is to look at the astigmatic mirror. You can download full page version from here.
Since your astigmatism can be different in each eye, test one eye at a time. Start by holding the astigmatic mirror up close and slowly move it out as far as you can see clearly.
If you notice shadows, darker lines or part of the circle appears more grey, then you have astigmatism. Notice where the distortion begins and ends. It is possible that you only have astigmatism at a distance and not for reading, or the other way around.
For people who wear multi-focal lenses or strong powered reading glasses, coloured lines may appear due to the blur of the near point.
So how do you get rid of astigmatism?
This exercise will stretch your eye muscles much more due to the sharp angle between the chart and your eyes. By moving your eyes in various steep angles around the dial you begin to stretch your eye muscles and as a result they begin to recover their normal flexibility and your corneas will revert to their original shape, thus restoring clear natural vision.
1. Place the Tibetan eye chart about 2.5 cm (an inch) from your nose with the tip of your nose at the white circle in the centre. You may not be able to see the chart sharply; the purpose is to exercise your eye muscles.
2. As you inhale let your eyes jump up from step to step until you can see the ball. Then let your eyes jump down the steps at the same rate you are exhaling, as slowly as possible, letting your entire body relax.
3. Let your eyes follow the smooth spikes. Inhale as you go out and slowly exhale as you go towards the centre.
4. Continue around the chart, first in a clockwise direction, then in a counter-clockwise direction.
5. Do this exercise three times a day with a few hours of rest in between. Check your progress by looking at the astigmatism chart. Some people like to play slow relaxing music as they do this exercise. The rhythm of the music will enhance the relaxing effect.
As mentioned earlier, astigmatism is normally quite easy to eliminate through the exercises outlined above. In many cases just a few days of regular exercise is enough to restore normal clear eyesight. You will know you have achieved this when you can move your eyes easily in all directions and see the astigmatism chart clearly without distortion. Remember to look at the chart from several distances and particularly where you noticed any distortion prior to your exercise program. The exercises are safe as long as you do not overexert your eye muscles. Take it easy and allow your muscles to regain their natural flexibility over a few days or even weeks. What's worth doing is worth doing well. Should your astigmatism return you now know what to do. Enjoy the summer minus astigmatism.
All the above charts may be downloaded free from http://www.vision-training.com/en/Download/Download.html
Leo Angart offers vision training workshops in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth.
For more information check www.vision-training.com