Eyes are considered as the windows to this beautiful world. That is the logic behind the saying “When eyes are gone, life is gone”. Among the sensory organs of the human body, eyes are the most supreme, because 90% of the worldly happiness is gained through eyes and life turns to be meaningless without vision.
So, Ayurveda gives utmost importance for the care of eyes. Among the eight specialties of Ayurveda, Shalakyatantra describes the care for eyes as well as the treatment of various eye diseases. It is astonishing that Susrutha, the father of modern surgery, had performed eye surgery, including cataract surgery, back in 1000 BC. This is probably the most ancient reference on eye surgery.
Ayurveda elaborates different causes for eye diseases like continuous watching of too- near objects, far objects and bright objects; lack of proper sleep; tiresome work and so on. Even emotional outbursts and mental disturbances are considered to cause eye problems in otherwise healthy individuals. These factors seem much more relevant in the present world where eye strain is pretty common due to the overuse of electronic gadgets like mobile phones, laptops, tablets, television etc. A group of eye disorders like computer vision syndrome has evolved in this era due to continuous use of LED screens of mobiles and computers. Eyes don’t get proper rest or care, even at night when it ought to be sleeping. The habit of concentrating on mobile phones even after going to bed is the practice today. Dryness of eyes is the outcome of such unhealthy habits.
The tear film produced by the eyes should be maintained, protected and lubricated. The tear film has three layers, i.e., the oily layer, watery layer and mucous layer. Proper blinking of eyes helps the tear film to get uniformly spread over the eyeball and this gives protection and nourishment to eyes. Once the tear film gets depleted due to over exposure of eyes to bright objects and also due to reduced blinking rate, the eyes start getting very dry. The patient experiences grittiness, soreness, redness, burning sensation etc in the eyes. He feels more comfortable while washing the eyes with cold water. Discharge from eyes is also a common symptom. Dry eyes may even lead to serious complications such as corneal ulcer and opacity.
Ayurveda explains seven treatment procedures for the eyes. They are:-
- Seka (pouring medicine in the eyes in a thin stream)
- Aschyotana (using eye drops)
- Anjana (application of medicine in semi-solid form in the eye from medial canthus to lateral canthus)
- Tharpana (retaining medicine in the eye for a particular time, especially ghee- based preparations)
- Putapaka (retaining specially prepared medicine in the eyes)
- Pindi (applying medicine over closed eye in the form of a bolus)
- Bidalaka (applying paste of medicine over the eyelids)
All these are indicated for different eye conditions and this can be done as a single procedure or in combination. Seka and aschyotana is the first step adopted in most eye diseases. This provides a soothing comfort for the eyes especially when tired.
Many medicines like:-
- Ttriphala (a combination of Emblica officinalis, Terminalia chebula and Terminalia bellerica), Chandana (Santalum album)
- Lodhra (Symplocos racemosus)
- Useera (Vetiveria zizanoides)
- Manjishta (Rubea cordifolia)
- Draksha (Vitis vinifera)
are seen to be beneficial for dry and tired eyes. These can be used as eye wash and eye drops.
Paste of medicines such as:-
- Manjishta (Rubea cordifolea)
- Chandana (Santalum album)
- Sariba (Hemidesmus indicus)
when applied over the eyes with rose water or milk gives good result.
Tharpana is another procedure indicated in dry eye. Since the medicine used for tharpana is ghee based, it gives good lubrication to the eye and when done in a course, the patient may get an advantage of stopping the daily eye drops to keep away the dryness and will be free from symptoms for a long period. But tharpana has to be done only under the guidance of an expert. This procedure should be done with utmost care. Tharpana can be followed by putapaka which is very refreshing for the eyes.
Other than the eye procedures mentioned above, nasya (instilling nasal drops) is another treatment modality which prevents as well as cures dry eye. Ayurveda mentions some nasal drops which can be used on a daily basis and which prevents many head and neck diseases and keeps the para nasal sinuses and the sensory organs healthy and properly functioning. Eyes are also kept nourished by applying proper oil on the head and face as well as taking daily head bath in cold water. Hot water head bath is considered one of the unhealthiest practices as far as eyes are considered. The diet must also include fruits, vegetables, milk and meat along with optimum quantity of ghee for preventing dry eye. Those using laptops and computers as part of their profession should give ample rest for the eyes in between their work. Eye exercises such as palming, shifting of focus etc, taking a break from the screen for few seconds in a regular interval, application of wet cotton pads over the eyes are the few things which can be adopted to prevent eye problems. All these habits when practiced, along with proper timely medication when needed, prove to be of great benefit for dry and tired eyes.
Dr. JEENA N. J.
Associate Professor & HOD
VPSV Ayurveda College, Kottakkal