Ayurveda describes the five elements or Mahabhootas, of which the universe is made up viz, Akash, Vayu, Agni, Prithvi, and Jala. These five elements also compose the human body, and each is represented by the five sensory organs. Amongst all the five sense organs, Ayurveda has given prime importance to the eye. Eye care is incredibly important for people of all ages. Because our eyes are the windows to our souls, they must be properly cared for.
Ayurvedic importance of eyes:
Eyes are known as Chakshu in Ayurveda, which means ‘to see’. The Alochaka Pitta which is a subtype of Pitta Dosha is found in the eyes. Pitta is contained the Agni, hence the activity of perception of vision is controlled by the Agni. This Alochaka Pitta which governs the functions of the eyes is responsible for absorbing images, colors, and shapes which allows clear vision. If this Pitta is imbalanced along with other local Doshas, vision impairment is observed. It is, therefore, necessary to take care of the eyes and balance the bodily doshas. If this localized Pitta is increased then there is strain, dryness, and redness of eyes. If it is reduced then it is commonly due to advancement of age, as vision impairment is seen in adults above the age of 40.
Causes of eye problems:
Ophthalmic problems originate due to various causes mentioned in Ayurveda. Some of the common causes which are observed are as follows:
- Incompatible coordination in perception. This is known as Asatmya Indriya Samyoga in Sanskrit. A common example would be not using eyeglasses while reading in spite of needing them.
- Misuse or overuse of the eyes. This is quite common these days due to more exposure to harmful rays as the use of digital media and gadgets has increased.
- Improper changes in the seasons and lifestyle are also seen as there is the advancement of technology. This type of cause is commonly seen as infrequent travelers due to constant changes in climate and the inability to adapt to the weather and lifestyle.
To overcome the above causes and maintain the good health of the eyes, Ayurvedic scholars have recommended intake of proper diet, lifestyle with respect to Yoga and ayurvedic herbal medicines. Out of these, lifestyle guidelines are of utmost importance and are still found to be relevant in today’s times.
Ayurvedic Dietary recommendations for eye care:
Ayurveda has recommended to include the intake of fresh fruits, green vegetables as well as intake of Rasayana for better eye health. Triphala Rasayana is considered to be the best ayurvedic supplement for maintaining a good quality of vision. Use of herbs such as licorice, turmeric, Triphala, and Ghee is recommended. Ghee is rich in Vitamin A, which is also suggested by modern nutrition studies to include Vitamin A fortified foods in the diet.
Ayurvedic lifestyle interventions for eye care:
- Padabhyanga – Massaging the feet and soles with medicated oil or Ghee before bedtime. This is an age-old practice mentioned in Ayurveda to improve blood circulation.
- Netraprakshalana – eyewash with plain water or in case of disorders, the herbal decoction is advised. Triphala is widely used for its benefits in improving ocular health.
- Sheetalodaka upchara– cold water applications: There are many ways in which cold water therapy can be helpful to reduce burning sensation in the eyes, for example,
- Cleaning eyes with cold water, splashing water all over the face twice a day.
- Patting the eyes with wet palms after intensive exposure to electronic gadgets.
- Anajana – Collyrium application on eyelids is again an age-old practice mentioned in Ayurvedic dincharya, the daily regimen. There are two types of Collyrium that are therapeutically used for eye care. This process helps to clean the eyes and preserves the Agni which controls the vision. It is also useful to reduce inflammation, increases secretions of the lacrimal duct.
- Netra Tarpana – This therapeutic procedure involves the use of medicated Ghee which is applied on the eyelids and blinking of eyes is advised. This helps the Ghee to get absorbed and helps to treat eye disorders such as dry eye syndrome, redness, and burning sensation.
- Nasya – Nasal administration of medicated oil is recommended in Dinacharya to clear the respiratory passages, and considering the anatomical communication, the cavernous sinus which is the primary control center of vision, taste, hearing, etc., gets optimum nourishment.
- Shirobhangya – Application of warm, medicated oil on the head, especially massaging the frontal and temporal region is recommended.
Suppression of natural urges should be strictly avoided, such as Sneezing, coughing, yawning, or even crying. This vitiates the Doshic balance and leads to poor eye health.
Also, check out our blog on Ayurvedic Rejuvenation – Rasayana | theayurvedco
Yogic Interventions and exercises to prevent eye disorders:
Yoga and a few simple exercises have proven to be highly beneficial to improve eye health and treat eye problems. Some of the common Asanas and exercises are as follows:
- Trataka – It is an effective method to improve vision. One has to sit 1 meter apart from a lit candle and keep on staring at a single point at the flame. This should be done till eyes begin to water and sitting in a relaxed but spine straight position or in a Lotus position. By fixing the gaze, the restlessness of the mind also stabilizes as it is a form of meditation.
- Sun exposure – Yoga also recommends staring at the sun early morning without blinking the eye, daily for a minute. It helps to improve vision.
- Palming the eyes is a good break from working for long hours on the computer. Rubbing both the palms together and slowly placing them on the eyes, letting the eyes rest for a minute and slowly opening them inside the palm-covered face. This practice can be easily done 3-4 times a day while using electronic gadgets.
- Blinking is also an effective method to improve eyesight. Fast blinking for 10 times, followed by closing eyes for 30 seconds while concentrating on breath is useful.
- Bhramari Pranayama – Breathing deep through the nose, holding it for 2-3 seconds, and slowly exhaling while making a humming sound is called Bhramari.