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You may have recently heard about the resurgence of the ‘sungazing’ trend, a practice which has claimed to provide many benefits over the centuries. Some proponents, with millions of followers on social media, have encouraged others to try it, with claims that it may improve sight, health, wealth and spiritual nourishment. Sungazing is generally performed barefoot while standing on an organic surface such as sand or stone. Gazers begin with sessions of around 10 seconds in duration, building to the point where they can comfortably stare at the sun for 45 minutes or more. Gazers claim to choose a time when they believe the sun is least powerful to complete the ritual.

Daniel Hardiman-McCartney FCOptom, optometrist and Clinical Adviser to the College of Optometrists says; “The practice of sungazing is very dangerous. Looking directly at the sun for even brief periods of time may cause severe damage to the eye or blindness. In some cases, it may result in retinal scars, a condition called Solar retinopathy.

“Sungazing to help eyesight was popularly promoted in modern times by William Bates (1860-1931), controversial author of the Bates method. However, sungazing was dropped from his technique, and it was removed from the more recent editions of his book. Most sungazers experience a temporary loss of vision that resolves within subsequent hours. Repeated sunlight exposure can cause the pupil to become smaller and less responsive resulting in a short-lived perceived improvement of vision, if the retina has not suffered damage. Online influencers have suggested modified techniques, such as sungazing with closed eyes to make the practice safer. However, the advice is the same, sungazing of any form is dangerous and may cause severe damage to the eye or blindness. If you are concerned about your vision, speak to an optometrist who can advise you of the various options to improve your sight. Optometrists will only ever recommend spectacles if they are needed and will check the health of your eyes during a sight test.”