Eyes are considered a reflection of our body and soul. Majority of our perception of the senses are transmitted through our eyes. It is difficult to imagine a world that is blank, dark and invisible without eyesight. Yet we ignore the gift of eyesight and take it for granted. We start paying attention to eyes only when there is a problem diagnosed.
Common Causes for Eye Problems
The two ancient scriptures of traditional Ayurveda medicine, Sushruta Samhitaand Vaghbata Samhita,identified 64 and 94 different eye diseases respectively. Today, stress, anger, anxiety, alcohol, spicy food, pollution, and hours spent watching TV and computer screens are common causes for eye problems. Risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and stroke are also the same for eyes. According to Ayurveda, eyes are created from the fire element (pitta) and ruled by the sun. Thus, eyes are more likely to be irritated on hot summer days.
Eyes and brain are closely related because vision happens in the brain. Our fatigue, stress and emotional reactions are projected through the eyes. Merely looking at the eyes, we can find information about a person’s health. Bright eyes indicate a happy frame of mind.
Other common causes for eye problems are sudden temperature variations (for example, diving into cold water on a hot day), excessive gazing without resting the eyes, disturbed sleep patterns, or incorrect sleep postures where head is either too high or too low.
Note: Always consult a trained health professional to evaluate and address health issues. Do not start any treatment that involves introduction of any material into the eyes without consulting a trained healthcare practitioner.
Simple Tips for Healthy Eyes
- Put cotton wads soaked with rose water on the eyelids before going to sleep to relax the eyes.
- Splash cold water into the eyes in the mornings while holding some water in the mouth and eyes open. It helps improve blood circulation and relaxes eye muscles. Do not use hot water in this process.
- Rose water drops can also be used to hydrate and clean the eyes.
- Watch TV from a distance that is not too close depending on the size of the screen.
- Do not read either in dim or too bright light.
- Wear sunglasses while driving or when in bright sunlight.
- Lie down for 15 minutes and put cucumber slices or milk-soaked cotton balls on the closed eyelids to relax the eyes.
- Avoid sudden temperature changes in the body. For example, with a hot sweaty body, wait for 10-15 minutes for the body to adjust before taking a bath or splashing water over eyes. Sudden temperature changes between a cool air-conditioned environment to hot outdoors or a heated indoors to a cold outdoors is unhealthy.
- Nasal drops of salty warm water can help dissolve mucus and relieve stress on eye muscles.
- Walk bare feet every day in the early morning on the grass for about 15 minutes. The dewdrops on the grass will help improve eyesight.
When we are in front of screen devices for a long period of time, we blink less than normal times a minute, resulting in dry eyes. Redness, burning sensation, blurred vision and dry eyes are symptoms of computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain. Eye exercises improve blood circulation to the eyes, reduce strain on the eyes and also improve the power of concentration.
When using screen devices, lighting should be half of the normal room illumination. There should not be any glare on the screen. Computer monitor should be slightly below eye level and about two feet away from the face. After working for about 20 minutes, look away from the screen at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds to avoid looking at something closely for too long. Give eyes some rest by taking a walk, blink eyes to keep them moist, close eyes for some time or exercise them. Adjust font sizes, brightness, contrast and angle of the screen devices to avoid eyes getting stressed.
Sleep and Eyes
Sleep and eye health are related; lack of sleep and staying up late affects eye health. Try going to bed at the same time every day. Spend 15 minutes preparing for sleep by doing sleep meditation. Wake up early every morning around the same time.
Massaging the feet and scalp with mustard oil, coconut oil, ghee or castor oil is good for the eyes and helps with sleep.
Put a couple of drops of ghee or clarified butter in both nostrils before going to sleep. It helps get sound sleep and aids with all kinds of sleep disorders.
Mix a few almonds, fennel and sugar as powder in a glass of warm milk. Drinking this milk before going off to sleep improves quality of sleep and the eyesight.
Foods for Healthy Eyes
Green leafy vegetables like spinach, stewed apple, sprouted chickpeas, milk, carrots, citrus fruits, almonds, broccoli, corn, beetroot, kale, strawberries and blueberries are helpful for healthy eyes.
Ghee or clarified butter is a cooling oil and good for dry fatigued eyes. Having 1-2 teaspoons of this butter balances pitta and improves eyesight.
Drink a lot of water every day. Constipation affects eye health. Avoid caffeinated drinks as they can increase toxicity and dehydrate the body.
Cook grated carrots in milk with cardamom pod and almonds. This carrot pudding is delicious and also improves eyesight.
Take ½ teaspoon of almond powder, add raw sugar and anise seeds in it. Mix them in a warm cup of milk. Drinking this milk will improve eye health.
Take out seeds from a pod of black cardamom, mix them with honey and chew slowly for some time. This improves vision if taken every day.
One of the main ingredients of Triphalais amalaki/amla, or Indian gooseberry, which is a great antioxidant and source of vitamin C. It prevents the development of cataracts, strengthens eyesight and boosts immunity. Triphala possesses anti-inflammatory, fever-reducing, pain-killing, antibacterial, antimutagenic, stress-relieving, anticancer and blood-glucose lowering properties.
One spoon of Triphala powder can be eaten with water after dinner or its fine powder can be used as a flush to clean the eyes. A Triphala eye wash helps refresh and rejuvenate tired eyes.
Drinking few spoons of amla juice daily with water improves retinal cells and promotes healthier capillaries of the eyes.
Yoga and Meditation
Our vision and thinking are related. When the mind is stressed, it reflects on the eyes. When the mind is relaxed, blinking of the eyes too increases making them moist. Meditation and relaxation exercises are helpful for healthy eyes.
Snake pose (Bhujangasana), sun salutation pose and corpse pose (Shavasana)are helpful for eye health. Anulom Vilomand Kapalbhatipranayama,or breathing exercises, are very good for the eyes.
Sit straight, breathe normally and look directly at the eye level. Now move the eyes upwards and stay for a few seconds. Look downwards and stay for a few seconds. Now look to the left and to the right; stay in each direction for a few seconds. Now slowly rotate the eyes clockwise a few times and then anticlockwise. Try blinking the eyes quickly for a few seconds. These simple eye exercises, when done a few times daily, improve eye health.
Sit in a meditation pose and rub palms of the hands together rapidly for 10-15 seconds. Close the eyes and create a cup-like shape with the palms on the eyes blocking the light. Take deep breaths and relax in this position for 1 to 5 minutes a couple of times a day. With closed eyes, meditate on the darkness and follow the breaths. This exercise relieves stress, increases blood circulation and improves eye health.