Vision is the priceless gift from God, blessing us to enjoy the beauty of this world. Eyes, being the most delicate organ in the human body, need special care. Today, millions of people in our country are deprived of God-given gift of vision. Unfortunately, many people do not take good care of their eyes. In course of time they do harm to their eyes due to carelessness and by not taking necessary steps to protect the eyesight, eventually leading to fatal damages. Ayurvedic ophthalmology or 'Netra Chikitsa' as it is known is a well-documented branch of Ayurveda, the ancient holistic medical science. Today's life style and work atmosphere along with the use of modern appliances and gadgets for work and entertainment, like televisions and computers are taking a heavy toll on the general health and well being of eyes. People tend to forget that eyes too need exercise as well as rest for its proper functioning. Working for continuous long hours before computer or watching television for a prolonged time and that too without enough blinking is very dangerous to eyes. It makes the eyes dry and scrappy. Today, a large section of children are myopic, the major culprit for this being television. Also inadequate sleep, poor eating habits, long and frequent journeys, inappropriate head position while lying, continuous reading of small prints, etc can cause eye disorders.
Ayurveda treatments are practiced to treat the disorder of the eye as well as to enhance the excellence of its functioning. They include Tarpana, Seka, Aschyotana, Pindi, Bidalaka, Anjana, Shirovasthi, Nasya and Shirodhara. All the eye treatments, especially Tarpana is very effective to improve vision as well as treat eye disorders.
Tarpana (Nourishing eye bath) – Unique procedure of application of Snehana (unctuousness) to the eyes is Tarpana. It is used for relieving dryness of eyes, blurring of vision, glaucoma, conjunctivitis, fifth cranial nerve disorders, painful eyes, watering of eyes, corneal opacity, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, swollen eyes, tired eyes, dark circles under eyes and falling of eyelashes.
Seka (Eye wash) – The procedure of pouring thin streams of herbal liquids over the closed eye from a height of 4-finger breath is Seka. It helps in curing pain in eyes and conjunctivitis.
Aschyotana (Eye drops) – It is a unique therapy of dropping medicines in liquid form on the eyes with the eyes kept open. It is effective in all types of conjunctivitis.
Pindi (Poultice) – It is the procedure of wrapping the paste of herbs in gauze piece and applies / bandaged over the eyes. It is useful in ulcerations and conjunctivitis.
Bidalaka (Anointment) – Simple smearing of herbal paste on the skin surface of the eyelids avoiding eyelashes is Bidalaka.
Anjana (Collyrium) – The application of medicine to inner aspect of eye lid is Anjana. It can be done with special rod or finger. It is useful in cataract, pterigium, night blindness, and corneal opacity, sleep disturbances and also makes the eye beautiful.
Shirobasti – It is the retention of oil in scalp by pasting a leather cap in the head. This is beneficial in curing diseases arising in head. It bestows highly beneficial effects.
Nasya (Nasal medication) – After gentle massage and fomentation of head and face, herbal liquid or powder is administered through the nose while the patient is lying in supine position. This strengthens the eye and the parts above shoulders.
Shirodhara (Third eye treatment) – It is a profound relaxing therapy, which involves continuous slow dribbling of lukewarm oil in a rhythmic manner on forehead from a pot suspended above. It strengthens the eyes, helps relieve stress and improves vision. It is effective in treatment of various eye disorders.
All these procedures help to maintain eye health and improve vision. They give desired results when administered with suitable internal medicines.
Ayurvedic internal and external preparations beneficial in eye disorders
Saptamrita lauh – For vision related eye disorders it is administered in the dose of 2 tablets twice daily.
Triphala choorna - One tablespoon of Triphala churna is added to one glass of water covered and kept aside overnight for 12 hours. In the morning, it is strained through a piece of clean cloth and this filtrate is used for both washing the eyes and taking internally.
Triphala ghrita – One teaspoon can be taken once daily with warm water internally. Triphala ghrita can be applied externally like collyrium. It is beneficial in early stage of cataract, excessive discharge in women, eye pain with itching and discharge, pterygium and such other eye and eye lid related diseases.
Chandrodaya Varti is rubbed with little water and applied as a paste or collyrium on the inner side of the eyelids. It is beneficial in early stages of cataract, pterygium, nyctalopia, itching in the eyes and granular eyelid disorder.
Vimala varti is rubbed with little water and applied as a paste or collyrium on the inner side of the eyelids. It is effective in cataract, itching, burning sensation, etc.
Nayanamrita Anjana is made into a paste with water or honey and a thin line is applied similar to collyrium. After 2 – 3 minutes it is washed off with water. It is effective in eye infections.
Trataka for the eyes
Sit in the Sukhasana (easy pose) on a mat on the floor with legs comfortably crossed and spine, neck and head in a straight line. Place the candle about an arm’s length away from you with the wick of the candle at the same height as your chest. Close the eyes and relax. Now open the eyes and look at the flame without blinking the eyes and breathe normally. When your eyes become tired, close the eyes and again repeat the procedure three times.
Trataka exercise done daily strengthens eye muscles and releases stress. They are a gentle and effective way to prevent eye disorders from developing. “Prevention is better than Cure.”
Simple tips to maintain eye health
- Use glasses with anti reflective coating while using computers and while driving.
- Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes in bright sunlight.
- Do not pour hot water over head during bath. Pouring hot water over the head and face reduces the strength of the eyes and decreases vision.
- Avoid reading, watching television, using computer or working in dim or bright light. Make sure that you have a proper light source.
- Adopt at ergonomic posture at work.
- Adopt proper sitting postures while watching television. Watching television in improper postures can also cause decrease in vision and lead to eye disorders.
- Watch TV from at least ten feet away, not too near and not too far.
- Avoid reading small prints continuously for long hours.
- Splash your eyes and face with plain water before going to bed and after waking up in the morning. Also you can splash water on your eyes twice or thrice in between work.
- If you're hot and sweaty, wait 10-15 minutes until your body adjusts before splashing water on your face and eyes.
- If your job is computer based, then take a short break of 2 minutes every one-hour and look away from the computer. Rub your palms and place them on your eyes.
- Once in a week, place a slice of cucumber or cotton pads dipped in rose water over closed eyes and relax for 10 minutes. This is helpful for tired eyes.
- Include more protein of vegetarian origin in diet. Green leafy vegetables should be a part of your daily diet. Include 1 – 2 tsp of pure cow’s ghee in your diet. Drink 10 – 12 glasses of water.
- Go to sleep at least before 11 pm. One of the main causes of eye problems is inadequate sleep.
- Apply pure cow’s ghee like collyrium before going to bed.
Ayurvedic Book on Ophthalmic Disorders
All the classical texts of Ayurveda, especially Susrutha Samhita is the ancient text, which explains various eye disorders and their treatment. Apart from the classical texts, the book titled 'Nethrasahasrayogam' is a first of its kind book, which is the English version of a collection of 1,000 ophthalmic methodologies compiled and authored by Dr N P P Namboothiri, Managing Director of Sreedhareeyam.
Ayurveda offers many natural, safe and effective techniques to care for our eyes. Following Ayurvedic suggestions can improve vision, reduce eyestrain, and heal eye conditions. Though age related eye disorders couldn’t be prevented, by adopting Ayurvedic anti - aging techniques, they can be delayed.