Eye problems are on the rise. The National Eye Institute estimates that, between 2010 and 2050, the estimated number of people affected by the most common eye diseases will double.1
Causes Of Weak Eyesight
Weak eyesight is generally associated with
- Focusing difficulties such as in myopia, hypermetropia, and astigmatism
- Vision obstruction such as in cataract
- Damage to the optical nerve such as in glaucoma
- Retinal damage and macular degeneration
- Other conditions like dry eyes or watery eyes
Aging and excessive strain tend to be the major culprits. Medical conditions like diabetes or eye infections can further accentuate the problem. Genetics also plays a role.
Ayurvedic Doshas And Eyesight
Ayurveda places great importance on eye care, deeming the eye as the most important among all the sense organs and most easily afflicted by the imbalance of basic body humors (doshas), which results in its decreased/disturbed function. All procedures that balance the doshas, whether somatic and psychological, are important for the treatment of the eyes.
Ayurveda also provides a specific class of medicines and procedures called “Chakshushya rasayana” for targeted action on the eye and visual apparatus.
To understand the Ayurvedic view of eye disorders, it is important to understand the doshas and how they impact the eye.
“The pitta view of Ayurveda ties in closely with the modern view of oxidation and inflammation being key reasons for weakening of eyesight.”
The pitta dosha controls all transformation processes in the body. Different types of pitta are associated with various processes—for example, digestion, blood cell formation, and vision. There is even a pitta for processing, storing, and assimilating information.
Eye disorders related to degeneration of any part of the eye apparatus are opined to be a result of pitta dosha disorder.
- Lack of nutrition: Imbalance in pachaka pitta (digestion) impacts ranjaka pitta (blood quality), which in turn impacts the supply of nutrition to the eye.
- Retinal malfunction: Imbalance in alochaka pitta (the vision pitta) impacts photochemical operations and retinal function.
- Problems in image processing: Imbalance in the sadhaka pitta (information assimilation) causes problems in the processing of images in the brain.
Too much pitta causes stress and damage. Too little pitta results in deficiency in function. The pitta view of Ayurveda ties in closely with the modern view of oxidation and inflammation being key reasons for weakening of eyesight.
“Problems in the circulation of nutrients in the body caused by vata dosha imbalance can affect the eye.”
The vata dosha governs movement and circulation of essential elements, such as food, water, blood, oxygen, urine, enzymes, and even neural impulses, throughout the body.
Imbalance in vata dosha can manifest as blood circulation problems, impacting nutrition reaching the eye; problems with circulation and replacement of aqueous humor, which keeps the eye moist and clean and the eye muscles supple, and dryness of the eye; or problems in transporting signals to the brain.
“Inadequate kapha can manifest in the form of weak muscles or dryness of the eyes”
The kapha dosha represents the elements that physically make up the body, such as bones, flesh, blood, muscles, tissues, nerves, bodily fluids, and mucus.
In the context of the eye, kapha dosha governs all the physical parts of the eye apparatus as well as the vitreous and aqueous humors that lubricate the eye. Excessive kapha tends to accumulate and cause blockages—for example accumulation of mucus in the sinus cavities can cause strain on the eyes. Inadequate kapha can manifest in the form of weak muscles or dryness.
Vata, pitta, and kapha are also interrelated in their action. Inadequate pitta may cause excessive kapha and vice versa. Imbalance in vata can cause kapha accumulation or disturb pitta action. Balance of these doshas is the key to a healthy body, including eyes.
Ayurveda Recommendations For Eye Care
Depending on the nature of the problem, Ayurveda recommends a specialized combination of diet, medicines, and Ayurveda procedures to vitiate any imbalance in the doshas that might be responsible.
At the same time, Ayurveda provides some general recommendations as well that are applicable independent of the specific dosha disorder.2
What To Avoid
- Excessive intake of spicy and salty food
- Excessive fluid intake
- Eating at night
- Sudden temperature variations, for example, diving into cold water on a hot day
- Excessive gazing at objects
- Sleeping during the day and staying awake at night
- Excessive weeping
- Suppression of natural urges
- Sleeping with the head either too high or too low compared with the rest of the body
- Excessive anger or grief
Ayurveda Tips For Daily Eye Care
Wash The Eyes Regularly
With Cold Water
Splashing cold water into your eyes while holding some water in your mouth hydrates the eye, improves blood circulation, and relieves strain on eye muscles. Filling your mouth with water makes your eyes protrude, making it easier to wash them.
Washing your eyes with a mixture of triphala powder and water, which you have to let sit overnight, also improves eyesight.3 This method is known as netra prakshalana.
With Rose Petal Juice
Use freshly extracted rose juice from cleaned petals of the flower to wash your eyes.
Ayurveda expert Sonica Krishan recommends applying medicated anjana or collyrium so as to keep the eyes clean and the vision sharp.
Immerse The Eyes In Cold Water
Gentle immersion of the eyes in cold water hydrates the eye and relieves strain on the eye muscles.
Cup your palms and place them on your eyes, gently massaging them with your palms and fingers, to improve blood circulation.
Use Nasal Drops
Nasal drops of mildly salty warm water or herbal aqueous solution help dissolve mucus and relieve strain on eye muscles.
Massage The Feet
Foot massage with mustard oil or ghee, especially between the first and second toes, center of the sole, heel, and outer margins, behind both sides of the ankle, stimulates all the chakras in the body.
As per Ayurveda, including the following items in your diet can be beneficial for eyesight:
Vegetables And Herbs
“Expert Krishan recommends: Drink 20 ml fresh juice of amla twice a day for the longevity of eyesight.”
- Green gram
- Sponge gourd, spiny gourd, and bitter gourd
- Amla (Indian gooseberry)
- Raw banana
- Curry leaf
- Kair fruit
- Meshasringi (gymnema)
“Expert Krishan recommends: Eat mangoes every day during mango season to relieve eye strain.”
Dairy Products And Oils
“Expert Krishan recommends: Mix 1/2 to 1 tsp licorice powder with cow’s milk, or honey, or ghee and have twice daily to improve failing vision.”
- Mustard oil
- Sesame oil
- Coconut oil
Spices And Condiments
“Expert Krishan recommends: Consume pepper powder mixed with honey to recover diminished vision.”
- Rose petals
It must be noted that recommended diet mostly includes items rich in vitamins A and C and have antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties.
Sonica Krishan recommends mahatriphala ghrita, yashtimadhu churana, and saptamrit lauha to be taken after consulting an Ayurveda physician. If you have conjunctivitis, use neem water to wash your eyes.
Triphala, a combination of the three fruits amalaki, bibhitaki or Beleric myrobalan, and haritaki or chebulic myrobalan, is recommended as the medicine par excellence for maintaining good eye sight as well as for longevity and health in general.4
Preclinical studies have shown that triphala is a potent free radical scavenger and possesses antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, fever-reducing, pain-killing, antibacterial, antimutagenic, stress-relieving, anticancer, and blood glucose–lowering effects. Recent studies have confirmed that triphala is beneficial for multiple eye problems such as dry eye5 and computer vision syndrome.6
Depending on the type of dosha imbalance, triphala can be mixed with ghee, oil, or honey for the most beneficial effect.
External/Topical Use Of Triphala For Eye Care
- Netra Seka: Therapeutic ocular irrigation in closed eyes from a height of 7–8 cm
- Aschyotana: Administering medicine drops from a height of 3–4 cm (this method is most highly recommended by Ayurvedic scholars.)
- Vidalaka and Pindi: Application of medicine over closed eyes in a paste as well as poultice form
- Anjana: Application of medicine in the conjunctival sac
- Tarpana: Satiating the eye with ghee by retaining it on the eye ball and blinking continuously for a stipulated period
- Putapaka: Pouring and withholding various form of medicated extracts prepared by specific pharmaceutical process called putapaka in open eyes followed by blinking continuously for a stipulated period
- Nasya: Instilling of medicated medicated powders and oils in the nose to remove toxins from the eyes, nose, throat, and ears, which is useful for treating watery, itching, or dry eyes as well as conjunctivitis and glaucoma.7
|↑1||Statistics and Data. National Eye Institute|
|↑2||Sharma, Priyanka, P. K. Sharma, and Mangalagowri V. Rao. “Eye Care Through Swathavritta and Yoga.” PunarnaV, MONTH 2.2 (2014).|
|↑3||Chaturvedi, Vaidya Suresh. Beauty & Health Through Ayurveda. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd, 2007.|
|↑4||Gopinathan, G., and K. S. Dhiman. “Triphala in Eye Diseases: A Critical Review.” J Homeop Ayurv Med 2.123 (2013): 2167-1206.|
|↑5||Moharana, Haramohan, Pradipkumar Panda, and Laxmi Maharana. “Role of Netra Tarpana with Triphala Ghrita in Dry Eye: A Clinico-Pathological Evaluation.” Journal of AYUSH:-Ayurveda, Yoga, Unani, Siddha and Homeopathy 4.3 (2015): 1-8.|
|↑6||Gangamma, M. P., and Manjusha Rajagopala. “A clinical study on” Computer vision syndrome” and its management with Triphala eye drops and Saptamrita Lauha.” AYU (An international quarterly journal of research in Ayurveda) 31.2 (2010): 236.|
|↑7||Sunil, V. Ayurveda And Panchakarma The Science Of Healing And Rejuvenation. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2005.|