People often ask me why sunning your eyes is so beneficial? The short answer is that our cone cells need light to see colors and details, and sunlight is the healthiest source of light out there. If you want to know more about sunning your eyes, read on.
Have you ever been in a pitch-black room without any light? Have you noticed that you don’t seem to see anything? However, if there’s even the slightest bit of light, your eyes will adjust and give you some vision, although it’s black and white and rather grainy.
The word “Photo” literally means “light,” and the cells in our retina are called photoreceptor cells because without light, they don’t function. Looking at this anatomically, there are two basic types of cells, the rods and the cones. The rods are the ones that give you the black and white, grainy, soft focus night vision, and they’re also the ones providing most of your peripheral vision. This is the reason that peripheral vision at the outer edges doesn’t produce color, but you do see movement, and without that, we probably wouldn’t have survived as a species.
The other photoreceptors, the cone cells, are responsible for color and detail (or sharp focus) vision. The center of the retina, the macula, is packed with cone cells only, and therefore produces clear, sharp vision. They only work when there’s light, and they work best in detecting accurate colors when the light is bright, as sunlight is. Without light, they would slowly deteriorate.
Yet we have been told by the media, the optical industry, and most optometrists (who sells sunglasses too) that we will damage our eyes or, even worse, become blind if we don’t shield our eyes from the sun. Now I’m not talking about extreme conditions such as a polar expedition, climbing in the Himalayas or piloting a plane at 30,000 ft. I’m talking about our daily lives which are spent mostly indoors, working in some type of building with often tinted windows and artificial light sources. We then walk to our cars or the train station and sit inside again, shielded from the sun. Maybe we hike or bike on the weekends, or even drive to the beach or lake. But often we run errands that require being indoors again other than the part of getting there.
And how many now immediately put sunglasses on if there is even the slightest ray of sunshine coming from above? People often say they do this because they are so light sensitive. Is that any wonder if their eyes are never exposed to natural sunlight?
Do a simple test to see if you are truly light sensitive. Go outside into the sun. You might not be able to look straight ahead if it’s a bright day and want to put your sunglasses on. Instead put your hand parallel to the ground at the level of your eyebrows as if you wore a baseball cap or hat. Is it still too bright? Or did the shield do the trick? The reality is that it’s not so much the light itself that is too bright but the angle of the sunlight hitting the eye. Additionally, the overall brightness of the environment affects how strongly we perceive the light, due to the reflective properties of the environment. White reflects the most light, whereas black reflects the least.
Unless you have an eye disease such as macular degeneration, a second occurrence of cataracts, uveitis, conjunctivitis, corneal abrasion (e.g. through Lasik), a viral infection or another illness that makes you more light sensitive (e.g. migraine), or are taking medications that produce light sensitivity, you probably aren’t photophobic (light sensitive). If you do suffer from MD or secondary cataracts, do not do sunning.
Sensitivity to light is also common in most visual disorders, especially myopia and astigmatism. Wearing tinted glasses (the ones that get darker with more light) not only make the light sensitivity worse but often the refractive error as well, since the amount of light available has a big effect on clarity when vision is not perfect to begin with. So in addition to increasing light sensitivity, these tinted prescription glasses also decrease visual acuity in the long run and will often result in the need for stronger glasses. Just what the optometrist ordered.
If you are so light sensitive that you cannot gaze at the horizon line on even an overcast day, you will need to reverse the light sensitivity first before being able to improve your myopia or astigmatism.
Knowing that the cone cells are needed to produce the clear vision that we all want, it would make sense to do anything to keep them healthy. Light is like a vitamin for them. So shutting light exposure down by sitting in dark offices and wearing sunglasses outside is depriving those cells. Not only do we need sunlight to generate Vitamin D, but it’s also been shown that increasing exposure to this type of light makes us happier. If you are still light-sensitive, wear a hat or cap when you go out in the middle of day to prevent any strain which might cause you to squint your eyes.
Sunning is the important thing you can do to eliminate light sensitivity and allow you to improve your vision. Therefore, it’s one of the core eye relaxation and improvement techniques of the Bates Method. You can do it anywhere, and anytime, but it’s best if you do it outside when the sun shines, and without the barrier of a glass window between the sun and your eyes. If you live in a part of the world where the sun tends to be elusive, especially during the winter months, you can do it inside, using a high wattage white infrared lamp, like the ones used in bathrooms and in the food catering industry, as they emit a nice amount of heat in addition to bright light.
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Claudia Muehlenweg is the founder of Holistic Vision, LLC and the creator of the Naturally Clear Vision Method. Claudia always hated wearing glasses, so she made it her mission to help others see clearly naturally … just as she has done. Claudia is a sought-after international speaker and workshop leader. She focuses on finding the root cause of her clients’ blurry vision rather than using symptomatic treatments such as glasses, contacts or surgery that can actually make their eyesight worse in the long term.
To learn more about Claudia, visit myholisticvision.com.