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Ayurved for healthy eyes

Sujal Torgal Patil

Wherever we go it is a common sight these days to find people hooked on to their gadgets especially their televisions, mobile phones or computers as a part of work or otherwise, so much so that they start displaying immediate and vigorous withdrawal symptoms if their gadgets are taken away from them. Be it children or adults, day by day the present generation is getting addicted to this. As expected this kind of addiction has its own set of cons, more so on our health. We are going to discuss today that unfortunate organ of our body which has to unwillingly go through a lot in this process. Our eyes, through which we are able to abundantly, perceive and experience this beautiful world, are fragile and sensitive, ask for care and love, but unfortunately that is the last thing we offer them. Ayurved has given prime importance to eye healthcare as the eyes have been considered as one of the five indriya or sense organs. Therefore, in swasthavritta (preventive medicine in Ayurved), certain daily rituals have been advised for optimum eye health.

Basically, our eyes were best equipped for long distance viewing but along the line of evolution we started using them more for short distance viewing like skill work, sewing, tailoring, gadgetry, reading and nowadays computer work or mobile gazing. Almost everybody today, from all the age groups is exposed to mobile or computer screens for the major part of their daily schedules.  Although there is some level of adaptation that the eyes have gone through, it is still not enough for continuous minute work.

Our eyes are programmed to view things in three dimensions, so they find it difficult to adjust themselves for viewing two-dimensional computer or mobile screens. Also, office environments aren’t entirely eye-friendly. Congested or cramped up spaces with the lack of ventilation and no natural light contribute to the list of eye woes. Therefore lifestyle related or occupational eye disorders are on the rise today.

The following could be summed as various direct eye hazards:

Mechanical:  Flying small objects, dust, powders, contact with fixed objects close to the eyes, hot solids. Abrasions caused due to contact lenses, fake eyelashes, etc. These constitute 70 per cent of all eye injuries and cause acute or chronic kind of eye damage.

Chemical: Dust, powders, liquids, droplets, splashes, vapours, fumes, gases, etc, from factories. Regular cosmetic abuse, drug abuse like undue usage of eye drops, etc.

Radiation:  Glare from visible light, electric arcs, UV, infrared radiations or lasers.

Electrical: Accidental electrocution which may damage the central nervous system and cause an electric cataract.

Emotional: Although modern medical science has very less clarity on this, ayurved has confirmed the mind-eye relationship. The emotional status of a person is clearly perceived through one’s eyes. Therefore, negative emotions such as anger, stress and anxiety put undue pressure on our eyes and deteriorate their health. Along with direct exposure to the above hazardous factors, indirect work stress (along with other personal and social stressors) also has a major negative effect on eye health.

Along with the above factors, the following dietary and lifestyle related causes add to already bad situations:

Dietary causes: Excessive salty, sour, dry, heavy and stale or preserved food.

Lifestyle causes: Inappropriate sleep timings, night vigils, excessive exposure to the hazardous factors mentioned above including mobile phones and other light and radiation emitting gadgets, exposure to heat (domestic or at work), continuous exposure to air conditioning devoid of natural ventilation and natural light, working in too bright or dim lit conditions.

Ayurveda says the health of eyes predominantly depends on the health of our mamsa dhatu (muscle tissue), majja (bone marrow), shukra dhatu and therefore individuals with poor mamsa, majja or shukra dhatu are vulnerable to eye disorders. Kapha dosha is the one likely to precipitate eye disorders along with pitta dosha and vata dosha. Kapha being cold is antagonistic to the tej mahabhoot (element of fire) which dominates the eyes, therefore kapha dosha is usually associated with diminished vision. The eye is also governed by alochaka pitta, a sub-dosha of pitta which becomes less balanced as we age. That’s why it’s important to care for your eyes throughout life.

The most common preventable and reversible eye disorders we see these days are dry eyes, strained or fatigued eyes, red eyes, diminished vision, headache along with painful eyes, itchy and sticky eyes, paralysis or eye muscles, allergic conjunctivitis, glaucoma, squint, corneal ulcers, retinopathies, early stages of macular degeneration, etc. Ayurved has a well-equipped branch to deal with eye disorders known as shalakya tantra and many disorders mentioned above can be successfully treated with minimum medication thus avoiding surgeries.

In this series we are going to focus on the preventive health measures for eye disorders. Appropriate dietary and lifestyle changes will prevent and also aid in curing many incomprehensible eye disorders too.

Beautiful and healthy eyes add grace to one’s face and with the optimum care of ayurveda this is achievable!

To be continued…

(Writer is chief medical officer at Traya Natural Health Centre and can be reached

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