Some will say the eyes are the windows to the soul. To the more science-minded, they’re an incredibly complex organ that gives us the gift of vision. Either way, most of us tend to take our eyes for granted. Just imagine your world if you lost your sight – even just reading this passage on this very screen would be impossible, not to mention seeing the expression of a loved one … or catching a gorgeous sunrise. Fortunately, several easy ways can help protect our eyes – and even improve eyesight naturally.
1. Eat Black Currant, Bilberry, And Blueberry
Berries like bilberry or blueberry can help you see in low light and relieve eye strain.
Anthocyanins or phytochemicals with antioxidant properties found in berries like black currant, bilberry, and blueberry are especially good for the eyes. Animal studies have found that anthocyanins can stimulate the regeneration of rhodopsin, a protein in the retina that can help you see in low light.1
Other research has shown that having black currant anthocyanoside concentrate can help the eyes adapt to the dark. It can also give relief from temporary problems with vision, say from working with video display terminals for a long period of time, and prevent or relieve eye strain.2 Given that so many of us spend a large part of the day staring at a screen, snacking on some black currants may not be such a bad idea!
2. Have Leafy Greens, Guavas, And Tomatoes
The leafy greens keep your retina unaffected by age and guavas help prevent cataract.
Some carotenoids like lutein, zeaxanthin, and lycopene can ward off eye disease. Found in spinach, mustard greens, and kale, zeaxanthin and lutein may play a protective role against cataract, age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is the degeneration of the central part of the retina, and retinitis pigmentosa or the degeneration of the rod cells of the retina.3 Meanwhile, lycopene – found in guava, watermelon, and tomatoes—may help prevent cataracts.4
[expert_opinion expertname=’ToddCaldecott’ opinion=”In Ayurveda there is an intrinsic connection between the heath of the eyes and the function of the liver and pitta dosha, and thus general remedies to reduce pitta can be very helpful, including Amalaki (Phyllanthus emblica), Turmeric rhizome (Curcuma longa), Shatavari (Asparagus racemosa), and Barberry root (Berberis spp.).”]
3. Have Ghee Or Clarified Butter
Ayurveda sees many inflammatory and vision-related eye problems as rooted in pitta imbalance. Having 1–2 teaspoons of ghee or clarified butter every day can help balance pitta and improve eyesight.5
4. Try Triphala
Triphala, a herbal formula containing the fruits black myrobalan (haritaki), beleric myrobalan (bibhitaki), and Indian gooseberry (amalaki), can be useful for improving weak eyesight. Take 1 tablespoon of it twice daily with milk.
Triphala ghee – made with ghee, triphala, Malabar nut (vasa), and false daisy (bhringraj) – works as a tonic for the eyes and can also help treat conjunctivitis.6
6. Eat Carrots Cooked In Milk
One classic Ayurvedic remedy to promote good vision, especially in children, includes two grated carrots cooked in milk with one ground cardamom pod and five ground almonds, to be taken daily.7
7. Do Physical And Eye Exercises
Exercise can help improve your overall health in many ways, from protecting your heart to improving your memory. So it’s no surprise that it can benefit your eyes, too. Here’s an eye exercise sequence you could try right away.
- Sit back 20 inches from the screen.
- Maintain eye level with the CureJoy logo.
- Follow the eyeball as it moves across the screen.
- Do this for not more than 1 minute at a time.
To Prevent Glaucoma
A mere 15-minute walk three days a week can prevent glaucoma.
Exercise can be helpful to people who have glaucoma, which can damage the optic nerve and cause the loss of vision. Increased fluid pressure inside the eyes, or intraocular pressure, can be one cause of glaucoma.
Moderate physical exercise – which can be as little as taking a 15–20 minute walk three times a week – can lower this pressure and enhance blood flow to the optic nerve and retina. Do keep in mind, though, if you stop exercising, your intraocular pressure will go back to its previous level.8 Another reason to keep with a regular workout routine!
To Reduce Risk For Macular Degeneration
Walking 2 miles a day, three days a week, lowers your risk of macular degeneration by 70 percent.
A large study that looked at the relationship between being physically inactive and age-related macular degeneration – a condition where a part of the retina deteriorates and causes loss of vision – found that exercising can lower your chance of getting AMD.
After accounting for risk factors like age, weight, and cholesterol levels, it was found that people who walked 2 miles a day, three times a week, had a 70 percent lower chance of developing AMD.9
To Prevent Eye Damage By Diabetes
Because exercise can help you manage conditions like diabetes better, it also lowers the risk of developing complications like diabetic retinopathy, in which the retina gets damaged due to diabetes, a major cause of vision loss in adults of working age.10
To Correct A Lazy Eye
Visual problems due to misalignment of the eyes can sometimes be corrected through eye exercises. When the eyes point in different directions (strabismus), the brain stops recognizing images from the misaligned eye, which can lead to what is known as a lazy eye (amblyopia). Putting a patch over the dominant eye can help strengthen the amblyopic eye by forcing it to work harder.11
8. Practice Yoga For The Eyes
Yoga too has benefits for the eye, and the yoga poses are very simple. You can try blinking, palming, and rotating the eyeball in different directions. Some experts recommend the following set of exercises, similar to the eye exercises you just did:
- Try moving your eyeballs up and down without blinking – think about looking at a clock in front of you and tracing a line between the 12 and 6.
- After about 10 repetitions of this exercise, rub the palms of your hands together and cup your eyes so you can feel the warmth seep through – this is called palming.
- You can follow this by moving your eyeballs horizontally, from 9 to 3, and diagonally, from 2 to 7 and 11 to 4. These exercises may help relieve the extra pressure that we put on muscles when looking at nearby objects, like a book or computer screen.12
9. Spend More Time Outdoors
To Prevent Nearsightedness
Spending time outdoors might be an easy way of preventing nearsightedness, medically known as myopia. Research shows that the risk of being myopic drops by 2 percent for each additional hour per week that children spend outdoors.
One reason could be that children who spend more time outdoors also spend less time inside doing things like studying or playing video games.13
To Help The Eyes Grow Healthily
But there could be more to it. Another study that looked at the effect of daylight on the rate of eye growth found that the eyes of the children studied grew regularly during the summer but grew too fast during the short winter days in Denmark. This has a bearing on the development of myopia because if the eye grows too long from front to back then you become nearsighted.14
So it’s possible that spending time outdoors prevents myopia by providing more daylight exposure; however, it could also be the result of exercising distance vision where your eyes are focused on objects at a distance.15
10. Protect Your Eyes From Light
Wear Sunglasses And Specially Designed Computer Glasses
Wear UV 400 wraparound sunglasses to block UV rays.
Staying out in the sun for longer duration has an obvious side effect, however – damage caused by UV radiation. In the short term, excessive exposure to UV rays, typically reflected from snow, water, or sand, can cause photokeratitis, which is an inflammation of the cornea, and photoconjunctivitis, which is an inflammation of the conjunctiva or the membrane lining the inside of the eyelids and eye socket. Longer exposure can increase the risk of cataracts and macular degeneration. WHO claims that about 20% of cataracts are caused by exposure to UV radiation.16
To eliminate the damaging short-wavelength UV rays, wear UV 400 sunglasses with a wraparound frame. The lens blocks rays with wavelengths below 400 nm and the wraparound frame prevents any reflective rays from reaching the eye.17 You can also wear specially designed sunglasses or contact lenses with melanin protection, melanin being the natural sunscreen in our skin, hair, and eyes.
Use specially designed computer glasses to block short blue visible light from electronic devices like computers or smartphones.
It’s not just the UV rays that are harmful. Short-wavelength blue visible light (400–440 nm) emitted by electronic devices like computers and smartphones can also damage the adult human retina and cause age-related macular degeneration in the long term. It is crucial for those above 50 years of age to block these rays with specially designed contact lenses and computer glasses that can decrease reflection and glare and filter out specific ranges of blue light.18
Rest Your Eyes While Using The Computer
Follow the 20/20/20 rule: Every 20 minutes look away at an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
Excessive computer or electronic device use also causes computer vision syndrome or digital eye strain, which has symptoms like eyestrain, fatigue, burning sensation in the eye, redness, irritation, blurred vision, and dry eyes. The American Optometric Association suggests these steps to prevent the symptoms19:
- Keep a distance of about 20 to 28 inches from the computer.
- Look away at an object about 20 feet away for 20 seconds after every 20 minutes.
- Take a 15-minute break after every 2 hours.
- Make a conscious effort to blink to prevent dry eyes.
[expert_opinion expertname=’ToddCaldecott’ opinion=”Protect the eyes from heat and direct sunlight, avoid eye strain, and limit your exposure to computer monitors and backlit screens. Rinse the eyes in the morning with a filtered infusion of Triphala churna, and practice trataka, or meditate upon the flame of a ghee candle.”]
11. Wash Your Eyes Every Day
- According to Ayurvedic practice, eyes must be washed with cold water in the morning to remove waste that is collected during the course of the night.
- Another way to improve your eyesight is by washing your eyes with a mixture of triphala powder and water, which you have to let sit overnight.20
12. Apply Collyrium To Clean Your Eyes
Collyrium or anjana is also used for cleaning the eyes and is considered to have a soothing effect as well.
13. Use Neem Water To Cure Conjunctivitis
Soaking neem leaves in lukewarm water and washing your eyes with it is recommended for conjunctivitis. This can reduce the burning sensation and swelling caused by this condition.
14. Try Tarpana And Nasya For Eye Disorders
Ayurveda uses procedures like tarpana and nasya for treating eye disorders. In tarpana, a dam is built around the eye using powdered black gram, and medicated ghee is poured in to soak the eye for a while. This procedure can be used to treat diseases of the retina or optic nerve, diabetes retinopathy, and more.21
In nasya, medicated powders and oils are instilled in the nose to remove toxins from the eyes, nose, throat, and ears. It is useful for treating watery, itching, or dry eyes as well as conjunctivitis and glaucoma.22
|↑1||Matsumoto, Hitoshi, Yuko Nakamura, Shuji Tachibanaki, Satoru Kawamura, and Masao Hirayama. “Stimulatory effect of cyanidin 3-glycosides on the regeneration of rhodopsin.” Journal of agricultural and food chemistry 51, no. 12 (2003): 3560-3563.|
|↑2||Nakaishi, Hitoshi, Hitoshi Matsumoto, Shigeru Tominaga, and Masao Hirayama. “Effects of black currant anthocyanoside intake on dark adaptation and VDT work-induced transient refractive alteration in healthy humans.” Alternative Medicine Review 5, no. 6 (2000): 553-562.|
|↑3||Ma, Le, and Xiao‐Ming Lin. “Effects of lutein and zeaxanthin on aspects of eye health.” Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture 90, no. 1 (2010): 2-12.|
|↑4||Gupta, Suresh Kumar, Deepa Trivedi, Sushma Srivastava, Sujata Joshi, Nabanita Halder, and Shambhu D. Verma. “Lycopene attenuates oxidative stress induced experimental cataract development: an in vitro and in vivo study.” Nutrition 19, no. 9 (2003): 794-799.|
|↑5||McIntyre, Anne. Herbal treatment of children: Western and Ayurvedic perspectives. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2005.|
|↑6||Frawley, David. Ayurvedic healing: a comprehensive guide. Lotus Press, 2000.|
|↑7||Verma, Vinod. Ayurveda: A way of life. Weiser Books, 1995.|
|↑8||Risner, David, Rita Ehrlich, Nisha S. Kheradiya, Brent Siesky, Lynne McCranor, and Alon Harris. “Effects of exercise on intraocular pressure and ocular blood flow: a review.” Journal of glaucoma 18, no. 6 (2009): 429-436.|
|↑9||Knudtson, Michael D., Ronald Klein, and Barbara EK Klein. “Physical activity and the 15-year cumulative incidence of age-related macular degeneration: the Beaver Dam Eye Study.” British journal of ophthalmology 90, no. 12 (2006): 1461-1463.|
|↑10||Exercise for Eyes and Vision, American Academy of Ophthalmology. 2012.|
|↑11||Strabismus Treatment, American Academy of Ophthalmology.|
|↑12||Ruiz, F. “Yoga for the Eyes” Yoga Journal (2007).|
|↑13||Sherwin, Justin C., Mark H. Reacher, Ruth H. Keogh, Anthony P. Khawaja, David A. Mackey, and Paul J. Foster. “The association between time spent outdoors and myopia in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analysis.” Ophthalmology 119, no. 10 (2012): 2141-2151.|
|↑14||Cui, Dongmei, Klaus Trier, and Søren Munk Ribel-Madsen. “Effect of day length on eye growth, myopia progression, and change of corneal power in myopic children.” Ophthalmology 120, no. 5 (2013): 1074-1079.|
|↑15||Turbert, David. More Time Outdoors May Reduce Kids’ Risk of Nearsightedness, American Academy of Ophthalmology|
|↑16||The Known Health Effects of UV. WHO|
|↑17||Roberts, Joan E. “Ultraviolet radiation as a risk factor for cataract and macular degeneration.” Eye & contact lens 37, no. 4 (2011): 246-249.|
|↑18||Digital Eye Strain. The Vision Council|
|↑19||Computer Vision Syndrome. American Optometric Association|
|↑20||Chaturvedi, Vaidya Suresh. Beauty & Health Through Ayurveda. Sterling Publishers Pvt. Ltd, 2007.|
|↑21||Patil, Vaidya Vasant. Keraliya Panchakarma Therapies. Atreya Ayurveda, 2013.|
|↑22||Sunil, V. Ayurveda And Panchakarma The Science Of Healing And Rejuvenation. Motilal Banarsidass Publishers, 2005.|