Article by Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ay) & Dr Manasa, B.A.M.S
Eye is an organ of fire element as per Ayurveda. We say, eyes have Pitta Dosha dominance. Hence, coolant and soothing therapies, diet, Yoga and lifestyle components are good for eyes.
Activities For A Healthy Eyes
20-20-20 rule for computer:
For every 20 minutes that you stare at a computer screen, look at an object, preferbly natural, for example trees, 20 feet away, for 20 seconds.
Cold water wash:
Ayurveda recommends using cold water for washing hair, face and eyes. This is to keep the fire in the eyes, well balanced.
Good night sleep for 6 – 8 hours relieves the eyes strain.
Do not touch your eyes repeatedly. Especially in this Covid 19 situation going around, you already know it. Right?
Wear sunglasses while going out under hot sun. It prevents the eyes from exposure to heavy fire element.
Yoga For Eyes
There are many yoga postures and eye exercises which you can practice to keep away eye diseases, to improve and maintain eye health and to improvise your vision.
Trataka i.e. gazing at an object continuously for fixed time duration improves one’s concentration and vision. It lowers high myopic eye powers.
Bhastrika Pranayama – boosts blood circulation to the head and improves vision.
Kapalabhati Pranayama is yet another beneficial procedure for eye health. It is also called skull-shining-breathing exercise. It cleanses your lungs and improves circulation. This helps in improving one’s vision.
Bahya Pranayama – improves circulation and cleanses lungs, good for eye health.
Anulom-Vilom Pranayama i.e. alternate nostril breathing exercise and Udgeeth pranayama wherein you need to chant ‘OM’ are equally beneficial for eye health.
Agnisara Kriya – which is concerned with cleansing the fire and strengthening Manipura Chakra located at your navel button, helps improvise the digestive functions and rectifies digestive disorders. This helps in proper digestion of food and formation of nutrition, which is important for eye health. At the same time, this procedure will help in balancing the pachaka pitta or belly fire which controls the other pittas including Alochaka pitta located in the eyes.
Shavasana – i.e. corpse pose not only relaxes your body, but also relaxes your eyes.
Other practices which help in keeping up the eye health are –
Eye rotation – up and down, sideways clockwise and anti-clockwise
Palming – warming up your eyes for better circulation relaxes your eyes
Avoid Doing These Things
Reference: Sushruta Samhita Uttara Tantra 1/26-27
- Taking bath / shower or entering into swimming pool or bath tub immediately after getting exposed to the Sun’s heat. Sudden exposure to the cold water or things immediately after exposure to heat is dangerous for the eyes.
- Trying hard to see far off objects which are beyond the visual field causes eye strain.
- Unhealthy sleeping practices like ‘sleeping in the day’ and ‘keeping awake during night times’ harms the eyes.
- Excessive and continued weeping / crying and sobbing
- Excessive and regular bouts of anger
- Being constantly in grief or excessive episodes of grief
- Physical, mental and eye strain
- Excessive indulgence in exercises, sexual intercourse – increases Vata and Pitta Dosha, which is not ideal for healthy eyes.
- Forcibly withholding obstruction of body urges, especially the urge for vomiting
- Excessive sauna therapy or undergoing excessive sweating therapies – If you are undergoing souna therapy, better to cover eyes with a wet cloth. Ayurveda actually recommends covering with lotus leaves or petals, but I guess wet cloth is more easily available.
- Excessive smoking
- Excessive administration of Vamana i.e. therapeutic emesis
- Forcibly withholding the ‘tear’ reflex i.e. not shedding tears when they are produced
- Constantly viewing small or minute objects
- Danta visharshanam – brushing the teeth for long duration
- Snanam – taking bath for long duration
- Nisha bhojanam – eating food at late night
- Atapam – excessive exposure to the heat of sun
Foods for healthy eyes
Use ghee as per your capacity, constitution and compatibility. Bhavamisra has announced that all types of ghee are conducive to eye. Even among them, ghee extracted from milk of cow, goat, sheep and breast milk and butter are highly beneficial for eye.
Other good foods / food inclusions for eye –
- Milk of cow and buffalo
- Urine of cow
- Buffalo urine and curds
- Mustard oil
- Soup of horse gram
- Pointed gourd
- Fresh plantain and radish
- Green gram
- Rock salt etc
- Green gram
- Red variety of rice
- Koumbha havi – Old ghee which has been stored for hundred years
- Go ghrita – ghee extracted from cow’s milk
- Go paya – cow milk
- Nari paya – breast milk
- Kshaudra – Honey
- Sita – sugar
- Mudga yusha – Soup of horse gram (can be taken mixed with 100 year old ghee mentioned above)
- Peya & Vilepi – Thin and thick gruels
- Surana Kanda – Corm / tuber of Amorphophallus campanulatus
- Patola – Pointed gourd / Trichosanthes dioica
- Vartaka – Brinjal, egg fruit / Solanum melongena
- Karkotaka – Spiny gourd / momordica dioica
- Karavellam – Bitter gourd / Momordica charantia
- Navina Mocha – Fresh / unripe plantain
- Nava Mulaka – Fresh radish
- Punarnava – Boerhavia diffusa
- Markava – Eclipta prostrate / alba
- Kakamachi – Black nightshade / Solanum nigrum
- Pattura shaka – Brazil wood or Sappanwood / Caesalpinia sappan, Aerva lanata
- Kumari – Aloe vera
- Draksha – Grapes, raisins / Vitis vinifera
- Kustumburu – Coriander / Coriandrum sativum
- Manimantha, Saindhava – Rock salt
- Rodhra – Symplocos racemosa
- Vara / Triphala – Fruits of Terminalia chebula, Terminalia bellirica and Emblica officinalis taken together
- Chandana – Sandalwood / Santalum album
- Indukhanda / Karpura – Camphor
- Sarvani tiktani – all the bitter things
- Sarvani laghuni – everything that is light, easy to digest
- Pancha Shaka – five kinds of leafy vegetables are good for eyes, they are –
1. Jivanti – Leptadenia reticulata
2. Vastuka – Chenopodiumalbum (lamb’s quarters, melde, goosefoot, fat-hen),
3. Matsyakshi – Alternanthera sessilis,
4. Meghanada – Amaranthus spinosus,
5. Punarnava – Boerhavia diffusa
- fresh butter
- ghee extracted from buffalo milk
- mustard oil
- red sandalwood
- white lotus petals
- Cissampelos pareira
- Pongamia oil
Foods That Harm Eye Health
- Excessive consumption of sour fermented liquids and foods predominant in sour taste
- Excessive consumption of horse gram and black gram
- Masha – black gram
- Aranala – liquid obtained by fermenting grains boiled in water
- Katu taila – mustard oil
- Jala avagaha – bathing by dipping inside water
- Kshudra – Solanum xanthocarpum
- Kshura – Tribulus terrestris / Ikshura – Astercantha longifolia
- Surata – excessive indulgence in sexual intercourse
- Jagara – habit of keeping awake during night time
- Shaka – leafy vegetables
- Amla – sour substances
- Matsya – fish
- Dadhi – curds
- Phanita – molasses / inspissated juice of sugarcane black in color
- Vesvara – meat preparation wherein pieces of meat are added with spices like pepper, ginger etc and roasted
- Ambupanam – excessive drinking of water
- Madhooka pushpam – Flowers of Madhuca longifolia
- Dadhi – curds
- Patra shakam – green leafy vegetables (except the five shakas mentioned in the pathya category above)
- Kaalinga – watermelon
- Pinyaka – paste of sesame seeds
- Virudhaka – sprouted grains
- Matsya – fish
- Sura – fermented drink / wine
- Ajangala mamsa – meat of animals and birds which do not belong to the desert like lands
- Tambula – betel leaves
- Amlam – sour foods in excess
- Lavanam – salt in excess
- Vidahi – foods which are corrosive in nature
- Tikshna dravya – strong and irritating foods
- Katu, ushna, guru anna pana – foods and liquids which are pungent and hot in nature and those which are heavy to digest
- safflower and flaxseed oil are harmful.
Ayurvedic Tips, Therapies
1. Keep your core heat, ‘the agni’ balanced
The activities of the eye, vision and perception of objects of sight are maintained by the alochaka pitta, a subtype of pitta in the eye. This pitta should be in a state of balance for the eye to be healthy. The optimum health and balance of alochaka pitta depends on the balance of the core heat i.e. the pachakagni or pachaka pitta. This pitta being located in the digestive system will control all the other subtypes of pitta in the body. It is also called as jatharagni i.e. the belly fire. Imbalances in this digestive pitta in the form of increase, decrease or unpredictable fluctuations will lead to disturbance and imbalance of alochaka pitta. This will have an impact on the eye health. Therefore it is important to monitor one’s appetite and digestion patterns regularly. If there are irregularities and imbalances in the patterns of appetite and digestion, one should consult the doctor and get it rectified.
2. Keep away from kapha aggravating foods and activities
The eye is ‘tejomaya’ i.e. full of fire energy. Pitta represents fire in the body. Alochaka pitta is located in the eyes. Therefore the portion of the fire component located in the eye is alochaka pitta. It is also called as alochaka agni i.e. the fire in the eye. Just as we see and perceive things only in the presence of light (all forms of light also represents fire), we can perceive and understand visual objects only when this fire component of the eye is in a balanced state. Water is antagonistic to fire and puts it off. Kapha is a representative of water in the body. Therefore there is always a fear of kapha to the fire in the eye. When kapha increases in the head or generally in the body, it tends to pacify the fire. When this happens one will suffer from visual disorders. Therefore one needs to avoid consuming kapha increasing foods and activities in excess, especially when he or she is prone for eye disorders. Therefore keeping ‘kapha in good balance’ is ideal for eye health.
3. Frequently cleanse your system
Flush off the excessive kapha in your system through Vamana i.e. therapeutic emesis at least once in a year until you strike balance. Excessive pitta too is harmful for the eye. You need to take care of its balance by flushing it off with periodic Virechana i.e. therapeutic purgation.
Both these treatments will also cleanse the body of its impurities and detoxify the system. This will keep the dosha balance required for smooth functioning of the eyes and are contributory for eye health.
Nasya which is a method of instillation of nasal drops is also beneficial for the eyes. The drops instilled with a purpose of cleansing and expelling the increased doshas from your head i.e. rechana nasyas will protect your eyes from those doshas. Pratimarsha nasya, which can be practiced regularly by instilling small doses of medicated oil in the nose, supports and strengthens the eyes and improves vision. It is a part of dinacharya i.e. daily regimen as advised by Ayurveda.
4. Tone up your eyes through Netra Kalpas
Netra Kalpas are those specialized treatments done exclusively to strengthen your eyes and vision. They are of many kinds.
Among them Netra dhara / parisheka i.e. pouring of medicated liquids like decoction, milk etc into the eye and Netra Tarpana i.e. pooling of medicated ghee around the eye are very popular. Netra Anjana i.e. colyriums to the eye help in expelling the doshas in the eyes and cleanse the eye. They too make the eye and vision stronger. When you feel that you are susceptible to eye disorders or if you feel you have weak eyes and vision, approach your Ayurveda doctor. They will choose an ideal eye treatment for you. These treatments, especially tarpana is beneficial for those who are susceptible for eye diseases, those who have recurring eye issues and even for healthy people who are healthy. Since tarpana relaxes and strengthens your eyes, it is beneficial for those who spend lot of time reading or using computers. It relieves eye strain and hence very much beneficial to treat computer vision syndrome.
5. Get a soothing oil massage regularly, foot massage often
‘Drishti Prasadam’ i.e. beneficial for good and accurate vision, pleasantness of vision and eye health – is one of the benefits of abhyanga i.e. general body massage as well as pada abhyanga i.e. foot massage when done with soothing and vata mitigating herbal oils. Take a body massage whenever possible. Top it up with sudation therapy. This will relax the entire body, balance vata and other doshas, provides energy and enthusiasm removes fatigue, bestows good sleep and additionally is good for eye health. You can take foot massage everyday at your home with the help of your loved ones, followed by foot dip in lukewarm water. This will bestow good sleep and relaxes your eye, especially when done at night, before going to sleep.
6. Use those three fruits often
The fruits of Haritaki i.e. Terminalia chebula, Bibhitaki i.e. Terminalia bellirica and Amalaki i.e. Emblica officinalis taken together are called Triphala, the three fruits. This is a popular combination among Ayurveda physicians since time immemorial. Triphala, either individually or as a part of several formulations is used in treatment of many ailments. Triphala is successfully used in the treatment of many eye disorders and most often considered as medicine of choice. Therefore Triphala is like nectar for eye, helps in curing eye diseases, provides immunity to the eye improves vision and helps in maintenance of eye health when taken regularly. Triphala is said to be a Rasayana, i.e. it has an immune-modulating role in the body, is rejuvenator and anti ageing medicine. It rectifies metabolism. Constipation is one of the causes for eye and vision disorders. The bowel health and clearance should be good and regular for one to have a good eye health. Triphala is a good laxative and helps in relieving the constipation. Triphala can be used in the form of powder, paste, ghee, juice or decoction as per the doctor’s recommendation.
Read Triphala home remedy for eye care
Triphala / Phalatrikadi Kashayam,
Pathyaksha Dhatryadi Kashayam,
Triphala Ghrita – herbal ghee,
Varadi Kashayam, Saptamrita Kashayam, Jeevantyadi Ghritam, Triphala Guggulu etc are some of the common medicines prescribed for eye disorders or maintenance of eye health.
Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Skype