It is said that our eyes are the mirror to our soul. They are the two most precious treasures that we have but are more often overlooked and ignored.
Around 285 million people are estimated to be visually impaired worldwide, out of which 39 million are blind and the rest have low vision. Of these, 82% of people living with blindness are aged 50 years and over. Some of the major causes like uncorrected refractive errors or cataract can be easily treated but remain the number one cause leading to blindness in middle and low income countries.
In India, 41% of children (under 18 years) are estimated to need visual correction but are not corrected. About 42% of workers, 42% of drivers and 45% of elderly people are similarly placed.
In Ayurveda, it is pitta dosha, the element of fire and light that governs our eyes. When alochaka pitta, the sub-type of pitta responsible for images and visions is balanced, eyes are healthy and we enjoy sharp eyesight. But when it is decreased, it can create eye problems. Some of the main reasons for eye problems are stress, overwork, anger, anxiety, alcohol, spicy food, pollution and bright, direct sunlight.
Pitta dosha can be controlled with proper diet and meditation. Foods that are rich in beta carotene (Vitamin A) help improve eyesight and prevent any eye conditions. Fruits and vegetables with deep orange or yellow color also contain carotene. Add items like carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, peaches, cantaloupe, mangoes and dark, leafy green vegetables to your diet.
Below are some natural Ayurvedic home remedies for weak eyesight:
Milk & Licorice:
Add 1 tsp of honey, 1/4 tsp of clarified butter and 1/2 tsp of licorice power to one cup of warm milk. Mix well and drink this every night before bedtime for a minimum of 3 months.
Take 2 tsp of fennel seeds, 1 tsp of sugar rock (misri), 7 almonds and grind or crush the mixture. Add 1 tsp of this mixture to one cup of warm milk. Mix well and drink this every night before bedtime. Make sure not to drink anything else for the next 2 hours.
- To help balance pitta, start the day by splashing cool water on the eyes, blinking them continuously while retaining some water in the mouth.
- One of the main causes of eye problems is lack of sleep so try to set your sleep pattern by going to bed around the same time each night, preferably by no later than 10 pm.
- Palming is a great way to relax eye muscles. This can be done by rubbing your palms together until they become warm and then put them over your eyes. In summer, this can be replaced by placing thin, wet, cold cotton pads on the palm, close your eyes and cup your hands over them without placing any pressure on them. Rest elbows on the knees by tilting your head forward, take deep slow breath and relax in this position anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes for upto 5 times a day.
- Trataka is another beneficial eye exercise. Gaze at a flame, preferably of a ghee lamp without blinking, for 2 to 3 minutes until your eyes start tearing up. Using a ghee lamp is important as ghee draws in sattvic frequencies to calm the mind.