The Eyes Look But The Brain Sees
“Eyesight is simply the ability to see something clearly, the so-called 20/20 eyesight (as measured in a standard eye examination with a Snellen chart). Vision goes beyond eyesight and can best be defined as the understanding of what is seen. Vision involves the ability to take incoming visual information, process that information and obtain meaning from it.” – Dr. Donald Getz, OD
For a long time we have worked with the body as if it is structural – the idea that our body is biomechanical, much like a car with parts that make up a whole. Science, up until recently, has treated our brain as a static organ that stops developing at a certain point, and only degenerates as we age. The discovery of Neural Plasticity is probably one of the most important scientific discoveries of our time. It shows that not only does the brain indeed change, but it is constantly changing all the time!
The neurology of vision is both incredibly complex and completely amazing when you start to dive into the details. “The eyes look but the brain sees!” Basically the eyes provide the raw data while the brain transforms that data into information that helps us move through the world.
Why is this so important? Because the brain is plastic, it adapts and changes based on how we stimulate and challenge it. There is a growing body of research that shows that vision can improve over time if you train it! It is important to understand that most of the improvements occur in the brain and not within the structure of the eye itself.
What is exciting, is that this opens up a wide variety of possibilities and options for training! As Primates, the visual system is one of the most important input systems that contributes to our performance, and survival. Sadly it is severely underused in the popular teachings of the health and fitness industry. Strengthening, and training the visual system is just as important in physical strength, balance, and mobility as weight training and functional movement practices.
A good starting point for exercising the eyes, is understanding the anatomy of the eye. Did you know that you have 6 muscles that attach to each eye? Starting with moving each eye through its full range of motion, and then getting both eyes to work together are simple ways to strengthen your eye muscles and start to increase your strength, balance and performance in everyday life! Try this exercise below.
Find a way to assess where you currently are, you can rotate your head from side to side, check to see if you feel any tightness. You can check your rotation in your trunk. You could even check your balance.
Pick a target to use, it can be a pen, or even your fingernail.
Sit up tall and make sure your chin is level. Hold your chin with one hand, and with the other hand, move your target in a circle and follow it with your eyes. Make sure the circle isn’t so big direction. Now retest your assessment (rotation, balance, etc). Did this improve your results? Did they get worse? Did they not change at all? Each result teaches us something about the exercise. If this improved your results, this is probably something that you could use to improve your performance in exercise, focus, mobility etc. If it made you tighter, it may mean that something in this exercise is actually threatening or stressful to your brain, and you may need some practice or even some professional help from a z-health practitioner to make sure you are set up for success.
Next repeat with each eye by itself, and make sure to test inbetween! If you have any questions you can email Neuro Train at firstname.lastname@example.org. We offer a free first consultation and we are happy to answer any questions you may have!