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The Ayurvedic Approach to Vision Health
Our eyes play a crucial role in our experience of the world, giving us access to the visual stimuli around us. As such, it’s important to maintain their health. There are a large number of factors that can affect our vision, ranging from sun exposure to screen time to sleep. When we understand the impact of these factors and learn strategies for mitigating their effect, we can help ensure that our vision remains strong and healthy.
In Ayurveda, our eyes house the pitta subdosha alochaka pitta. Eye inflammation, dryness, strain and irritation occur when pitta is out of balance, which can result from things like bright or excessive screen exposure, sun exposure, environmental irritants and pollution and even eating spicy foods. In addition, our alochaka pitta tends to become weakened with age, which explains why our vision deteriorates as we get older.
There are a number of Ayurvedic tips and remedies that both strengthen alochaka pitta and help to remedy imbalances. By paying attention to your eyes and doing the right things to protect them, you can make a long-term impact on improving your vision health.
General Tips for Avoiding Imbalance
An excess of pitta, which is characterized as fiery, hot, liquid and oily, can lead our eyes to become irritated and inflamed. This excess can take many forms. For many, the amount of time we spend looking at screens or outside in the sun can have a significant impact on our eyes. To avoid throwing pitta out of balance, it’s important to avoid over-extending them and to engage in general best practices for maintaining eye health.
Get enough sleep
When we sleep, we heal, refresh and regenerate both mental and physical energies. This also includes our eyes, and when we don’t get enough sleep, we increase the chances of experiencing dryness, irritation, twitches or increased light sensitivity. This imbalance also manifests itself on the surface in the form of puffy eyes or dark circles.
Try to get enough sleep every night (the National Sleep Foundation recommends between seven and nine hours a night for an average adult) in order to protect your eyes. Each dosha has different sleep tendencies, so if you’re curious about how to get better sleep according to your dosha, you can check out our blogs here and here. For more general Ayurvedic tips on promoting high quality sleep, check out our blog here.
Regulate screen time
As many of us have probably experienced, staring at screens for too long can cause eye strain, irritation and headaches. While modern life has made it difficult to go any length of time without screen access, we should regulate how long we spend on our screens. Even if you have a job or other obligation that requires being online for long periods, try to take a break every 30 minutes and focus your eyes on a more distant object. You can also do things like adjust your screen brightness, use dark mode and invest in blue light protection.
Eat eye-boosting, pitta-pacifying foods
As mentioned earlier, eating foods that inflame pitta, like spicy, oily or fried foods, can also contribute to worsening eye health. Especially if you’re pitta-dominant, or if it’s pitta season, try to avoid these kinds of foods. Instead, eat foods rich in antioxidants that can strengthen the eyes such as carrots, fish, almonds, kale and oranges. For a more in-depth guide on how to balance pitta through diet, check out our blog here.
Reduce stress levels
As research has demonstrated, our stress levels can play a significant role in our vision, as stress can lead to vision degeneration and even the development of conditions like glaucoma and optic neuropathy. Whether you’re going through burnout or have been experiencing other personal stressors, it’s vital to recognize and address the root causes of stress and anxiety. While this may seem like a daunting task, there are small steps and rituals you can engage in that can make an immediate impact on your stress levels, like doing a self-massage, journaling or lighting a wellness candle.
Soothing Ayurvedic Eye Remedies
In addition to the everyday practices we can undertake to protect our eyes, there are also several Ayurvedic self-care remedies that can help soothe irritated eyes.
There’s a reason why putting cucumber slices over your eyes at the spa is such a common image. The coolness of cucumber helps to soothe the fire of an imbalanced pitta, which can lead to eye irritation and strain. Simply placing cold slices of cucumber over your eyes can work instant wonders toward alleviating inflammation and redness. You’ll also feel more alert, calm and rejuvenated afterward!
This simple Ayurvedic practice brings grounding and rejuvenation to overworked, strained eyes while also boosting overall tranquility. To practice eye palming, sit comfortably in a darkened room and quickly rub your palms together to generate heat. Close your eyes and place your warm palms over your eyes with gentle pressure. Breathe deeply and slowly draw your hands away from your eyes when you’re feeling grounded and refreshed.
More than an aromatic luxury, rosewater also has a number of skincare and health benefits that make it a revered Ayurvedic ingredient. It’s especially effective in combating eye inflammation. To reap its soothing benefits, you can cleanse the area around the eyes with rosewater twice a day, or apply a cold rosewater-soaked cotton pad over the eyes for 5-10 minutes.
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