Most people pay attention to their eyes only when they have a problem. But if you spend hours looking at screens, it can take its toll on your eye health, whether you realize it or not.
Maharishi Ayurveda recommends preventing future health problems while you're still healthy. To that end, here are some simple natural eye care tips to help prevent eye problems and support vision.
Healthy habits for natural eye care
Don’t stare too long
In general, you don't want to stare continuously at fixed objects in the distance. Blink periodically and look away at short intervals to keep from straining the eyes. At the same time, staring at the TV close-up is one of the main causes of myopia (nearsightedness), so try and watch TV from at least ten feet away—not too near and not too far.
Turn the lights on
Proper light is another factor in eye health, just like your mother told you. Avoid reading or working in either dim light or in bright sunlight. Staring fixedly in the distance or close-up is especially harmful in bright sunlight, especially if you're around water or reflecting objects. Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes in bright sunlight, but not when driving or reading, as this will cause strain.
Get some sleep
Your eyes’ greatest enemy is poor sleep. If you have a tendency to stay up too late, try going to bed just fifteen minutes earlier. Gradually bring your bedtime into alignment with the Ayurvedic routine—before 10:00 p.m.
Eye-friendly lifestyle tips
Protect your eyes
Protect your eyes from the ravages of the elements—sun, wind, and water. All of these influences can disturb the doshic balance of your eyes, interfering with good vision and causing strain and eye fatigue. Wear sunglasses, scarves, or caps to shield your eyes when the elements are lashing about you.
Stress is another enemy of the eyes. When you're tense, angry, or unhappy, your eyes can look swollen and dull. Avoid stressful situations as much as you can. But life happens! When times of stress arise, try and respond as calmly as you can.
Learn eye nutrition
Take time to learn what your body's nutrition needs are. In general, the eyes are nourished by foods like coconuts, raisins, papaya, and sweet juicy fruits. Reduce your intake of sugar and try to avoid red meat and heavy or fried foods. These general rules work for everyone, but of course, a vaidya can advise you best on what particular dosha imbalance is causing your eye problems, and will prescribe you a diet and routine accordingly.
Say yes to yoga
Some yoga asanas, like Shirshasana and Surya Namaskara asana, are very beneficial for eyes—they boost circulation to the blood vessels and capillaries, relax the eyes, and, over a period of time, may even improve vision.
Routines for natural eye care
Morning eye care routine
- Each morning upon waking (either before or after using the toilet), fill your mouth with water and hold for a few seconds with your eyes closed. Spit it out and repeat 2-3 times.
- Splash your eyes and face with cool or slightly warm water 10-15 times. Repeat again in the evening when you return from work or school.
Caution: Never use hot or icy water on the eyes. Also avoid abrupt temperature changes. For instance, if you're hot and sweaty, wait 10-15 minutes until your body adjusts before splashing cool water on your face and eyes.
Yogic eye routine
Yogic eye exercises, if done daily, are a gentle and effective way to prevent vision problems from developing. They are especially recommended for children, but adults can see benefits as well.
If you already do yoga regularly, continue with your normal routine, because most yogic exercises have a good effect on the eyes. If not, here are some suggestions:
- Sit in the Sukhasana (easy pose) with your legs comfortably crossed and your spine, neck, and head in a straight line. Look directly to the front at eye-level and breathe normally. This is the position of readiness.
- Move your eyes upward to the ceiling and stay for two seconds. Look downwards and stay for two seconds. Close your eyes for two seconds.
- Look toward the right side, as far as your eye will see, for two seconds. Look to the left side for two seconds. Look to the front again.
- Close your eyes for 6-8 seconds.
- This completes one round. Start with 2-3 rounds and increase up to four rounds.
Palming can relieve eye and brow tension, aiding in long-term eye health and relieving discomfort.
- Rub both palms together quickly for 8-10 seconds. This friction creates a mild heat.
- Close the eyes and gently place the left palm over the left eye and the right palm over the right eye for one minute. Do not press the eyeballs with the palms — just let them gently rest there. Breathe in and out slowly to release stress.
- Repeat 2-3 times.
- Other poses that strengthen the eyes include the Bhujangasana (snake pose), Surya Namaskara (sun salutes), and Shavasana (rest pose).
Routine to stop computer fatigue
If you have to stare at a computer screen up close for your job, or spend long hours doing any detailed, close-up work, use these tips to banish eye fatigue.
- Every 30 minutes, look away from the computer and palm your eyes (see above). You can also get up for a short break, stretch, or make a phone call.
- Dampen two wads of cotton wool with pure Organic Rose Water and place over closed eyes. Relax for 10 minutes with the pads over your eyes. Organic Rose Water has a cooling effect and is especially helpful for tired eyes. You can palm your eyes afterwards.
Routine for dry, tired eyes
If your eyes feel tired and dry, or are filled with crusty matter when you wake up, this is due to a disturbance in Vata dosha. Here are some ways to balance Vata dosha and refresh and lubricate your eyes.
- When you wake up in the morning, splash your eyes and face with slightly warm water 10-15 times.
- After returning from work or school, wash your feet in warm water and massage them with Moisturizing Herbal Massage Oil.
- Drink fennel seed water each day. Boil 1/2 t. fennel seed in a cup of water, and boil it back until reduced to half. Sip when warm.
Routine for tense, bloodshot eyes
Tense, bloodshot eyes are caused by an imbalance in Pitta dosha, and can be triggered by stress, exposure to smoke, pollution, fatigue, or insufficient or irregular sleep.
- Look for a commercial eye gel, preferably organic, which you can apply to the area around the eyes at night. This provides natural support and will increase soma, balance agni, and help remove wrinkles and dark circles.
In Ayurveda, preventative eye care is not only important for eye health—it benefits the whole body. Simple routines, proper nutrition, and helpful herbals go a long way towards supporting vision and keeping the body in balance. Explore supplements and recipes to nourish your eyes.