Disease prevention and care of the Eyes
“The world exists because of our eyes” goes a popular saying in India. Diseases of the eye afflict a fairly large section of the global population today. And it is a fact that inspite of the great progress of science and technology, the incidence of chronic eye disease has only increased, not come own, during the last hundred years. Opthalmologists and opticians are having a field day. Myopia and Astigmatism are perhaps the commonest defects of vision prevalent among the comparatively younger population. Today, six year old children wearing glasses are not unusual. Fifty years ago, it was a rare sight. True, the marvels of modern technology have led to the invention and use of such aids as contact lenses and techniques such as intra ocular grafting and laser therapy. But ironically again, it is the prevention aspect which continues to remain neglected despite a wealth of knowledge on the subject, even if it is largely empirical. Sushrutacharya, the Ayurvedic scholar – celebrity has given the following as the casuative factors of eye disease in his famous treatise.
- Pouring cold water over warm, temperate or sun – scorched body, especially pouring cold water on the head when it is sun scorched.
- Strainfully viewing distant objects.
- Sleeping during daytime
- Keeping awake at night especially around or beyound midnight
- Suppressing the feeling of sleepiness or keeping awake by killing the symptoms of sleep by the use of natural or synthetic drugs.
- Excessive weeping.
- Excessive indulgence in grief or anger.
- Injuries to the eye
- Over indulgence in sex
- Too much intake of sour tasting foodstuffs like pickles, lemon, tamarind etc.
- Ignoring the calls of nature i.e. the urge for stool or urination or flatulent discharge.
- Excessive perspiration
- Entry of lots of dust into the eyes.
- Excessive exposure to the sun
- Excess of vomiting or attempts to suppress vomiting sensation.
- Inhalation of hot vapours especially those having poisonous fumes
- Suppression of tears
- Strainfully viewing very minute objects
Ayurveda also recognizes the following causes of eye trouble.
- Reading during evening hours or late at night.
- Over work
- Reading or writing in a lying position.
- Reading or writing for long periods in poorly lit places or in places having lot of electric lighting
- Gazing at sun during solar eclipse.
It is now for the curious intellectual to see how many points out of the above 23 points listed are common to the extant medical theory of Allopathy. Perhaps points numbred 2,8,13, 18 19, 21 and 23 could be the common ones. Also, points no. 22 in part is recognised by Allopathy which proscribes reading and writing in poorly lit places as an eye care regimen. yopia, Hypermetropia, Presbyopia, Cataract, Astigmatism, Colour Blindness, Crossed Eye and Glaucoma are the main serious diseases of the eyes. Infections conditions afflicting the eye include Styes, Acute conjunctivitis and Trachoma. Allergic condition (Hay fever) is the result of a wide range of environmental irritants which produced inflamatory conditions of the eyes. Allopathic treatment is excellent for Trachoma, a serious infectious condition which responds promptly to antibiotics. However, Allopathy has no solution for Conjuntivitis, a self limiting disease which takes mass tolls in tropical areas. Conjuntivitis is a very annoying diesease which troubles a person for nearly there to four days or even more. Contain home prescriptions taken from Ayurvedic texts are exellent for Conjunctivitis. Pure honey and onion juice (extract) are the remedies. Honey drops and onion extract drops put in the eyes either separately or as a mixture help to arrest the onset and progress of Conjunctivitis and itigate the severity of its symptoms in an effective manner.
Treatment of Myopia, Hypermetropia, Prespoyopia and Astigmatism –
The treatment of these defects of vision which are corrected by glasses in Allopathic practice merits the greatest attention primarily because the incidence of these diseases is highest the world over. The point to ponder in this connection is what is the role of prevention and what is the role of treatment in the management of these defects. Glasses or spectacles have become such a common accessory that not much is thought in terms of prevention or even cure of the defects of vision. In fact modern medicine has not much to offer or suggest by way of prevention and cure of these physical defects. Acceptability of glasses in the older as well as younger age groups is so high that defect of vision is no longer regarded as any serious physical handicap. At the same time scant attention is paid to prevention of such defects. As regards actual bonafide cure of these defects, there is little belief or faith in any system of medicine offering cure. At this juncture we must have a closer look at the preventive regimen for these diseases as offered by the Ayurvedic system of medicine. In the previous page, a list of 23 points on the causes of eye – trouble was given. Avoidance of these causes in itself constitues prevention. It is, however, a different matter how many preventive actions are actually practicable in this fast paced life of today. Ayurveda stresses on change of life style as much as medication for complete and successful cure. If only one could assiduously follow the regimen suggested in the aforesaid 23 points, it would be enough for curative treatment. However below are mentioned some more ways to prevent eye disease and much more than that to effectively reduce the severity of eye disease and, above all, to maintain sound eyesight even upto the age of 70 or 80 years.
- Viewing green coloured objects is beneficial for the eyes. That is why, walking through gardens and thick vegetation been considered good for eyes.
- Application of sandalwood paste on the head is an excellent tonic for the eyes.
- Fill your mouth completely with cold water and in that mouthful condition, wash your eyes with cold water. This is to be done thrice daily. Regularly performed, this treatment is a good preventive and curative for eye disorders.
- Daily massage of the scalp with pure unadulterated coconut oil or mustard oil is another great tonic for eyes.
- Butter, extracted from cow’s milk is very good for eyes when taken orally or even when applied on the scalp.
- Keeping the feet clean and regular massage of the soles with pure coconut oil or mustard oil is another valuable remedy for prevention and treatment of many diseases of the eye. But this cannot be relied upon as the only treatment.
- Washing and cleaning the feet before and after meals, after urination and defecation and before sleeping is extremely beneficial for eye health. In ancient and medieval India, keeping feet clean in the manner was a habit with people.
- ‘Triphala’ powder-consisting of the powdered ‘Harada’, ‘Bahera’ and ‘Amla’ (gooseberry) is another tonic for the eyes. Water – Triphala mixture duly filtered or cooled decoction of Triphala powder in water has the remarkable property of curing many chronic diseases of the eyes when used regularly over a period of 20 weeks. It is also capable of combating acute eye diseases.
- Hair in the nasal cavity should never be plucked. Plucking them adversely affects eye sight.
- Ghee (clarified butter) made preferabaly from cow’s milk is an excellent tonic for the eyes.
- Fresh cow’s urine is an extremely valuable remedy for many eye diseases like pain, irritation and redness in the eye and also cataract. Dropping 2 or 3 drops of cow’s urine in each eye everyday for 40 days cures the above troubles.
As this juncture, it would be worthwhile to return to the discsussion of the most common eye defect prevalent today viz defects of focussing – Myopia, Hypermetropia, Astigmatism and Presbyopia. It is observed that Myopia runs in families i.e. it is inherited. It would however, be significant here to sort out the causes which working alongwith on inherited disposition precipitate this serious eye trouble. These causes are picked out from the 23 causes listed before. These are indicated below.
1.Keeping awake at night especially around or beyond midnight.
2 Reading / writing during evening hours or late at night.
3. Sleeping during daytime.
For most of the youngsters in their teens, the above three causes alongwith a hereditary disposition constitute the chief culprit for eye defects like Myopia or Astigmation which necessitates wearing glasses. And what is this hereditary disposition from the Ayurvedic angle ? Recalling that Ayurveda recognizes seven types of body constitution or ‘prakriti’ ‘Pitta’ creates three different types of ‘prakriti’ i.e. ‘pitta prakriti’, ‘pitta – kapha prakriti’ and ‘Pitta- vata prakriti’. It is the ‘pitta’ which is the main factor behind the above defects of vision. The vitiation of ‘pitta’ is the working cause behind the defects. Suffice it to say that the so called hereditary factor in eye defects is simply a body constitution of either ‘pitta’ or ‘Pitta – kapha’ or ‘pitta – vata’ `Pitta’ also enters into another body constitution called ‘kapha – pitta vata’ but this constitution is not considered ‘pitta’ dominated and is, therefore, not exactly the cause of hereditary disposition. There is another important regimen which should be followed for preventing these defects of the eye especially in persons with the above mentioned types of constitutions. That regimen is the proper regulation of ‘pitta’ as a functional humour in the body. Diet which vitiates ‘pitta’ should be assiduously avoided by these persons. Let us recount what such a diet consists of Items which tend to vitiate or derange the level of ‘ptta’ in the human body –
– Sour foodstuffs like pickles, lemon, tamarind
– Brinjals, Tomatoes
– Red meat and pork
– Butter and oil
– Spicy foods
– Dry fruits like Almonds and Cashews
Now if a person is advised to avoid all the above foodstuffs he would at once scoff at the physician on the practicability of this. True, reasonable quantities of butter and oil are, indeed often necessary but excess of these are certainly harmful. Remember, all human diseases are caused by vitiation of ‘Kapha’ ‘Pitta’ or ‘Vata’ in the human body and adoption of a proper dietary regimen would take care of the dominant humour in the body. It is precisely the disturbances of the level of dominant humour which sets the disease process. As such, following the proper regimen would ensure that basis of disease is not established.
At this point one may wonder why huge sums of money are being spent all over the world for surgical treatment of eye and for optical aids and follow when such simple and easy-to-follow means for prevention and cure of eye troubles are available in Ayurveda. The reason is a lack of faith, if not intellectual bankcruptcy. The means of prevention, if rigorously followed, are enough to check the development of serious defects of vision. Further Ayurvedic pharmacology remains a neglected subject of study, research and practice. The result is that efficacious drugs compatible with fast-paced modern living have not been developed.
Before bringing this subject of eye disease to a close it would be worthwhile to mention some other easy-to-follow treatments of eye disorders.
- Auto urine therapy is held to be an excellent remedy for great number of human ailments. Washing both eyes with drops of early morning – fresh urine and thereupon with cold water is very effective in curing conjunctivitis and other infectious inflammatory diseases of the eye.
- Freshly extracted back ‘Til’ oil should be dropped into eyes before sleep at night. This treatment carried on for a few days is a very good preventive and curative for eye diseases of various types.
- Make a paste of ‘Triphala’ powder with pure ghee (cow’s butter oil) and honey. This should be taken orally every night. At the same time some restraint should be exercised in sexual activity. This is another proven precription for effective treatment of almost all types of eye disease, especially defective vision.
The modern Allopathic school of medicine considers cataract the result of lens of the eye losing its transparency. As per traditional Ayurveda, Cataract results from serious vitiation of vata and pitta leading to eye ball opacity. The reasons could be many – senile degeneration excessive strenous work, injury, diabetes and excessive exposure to heat or radiation. Here again, if intelligently and correctly applied, the traditional Ayurvedic treatment scores over Allopathic treatment as the former has the potential to bring about cure without surgery. Allopathy, as well as know, relies only on surgery involving replacement of natural lens of the eye by an artificial one. Some traditional remedies for successful treatment of Cataract are given below.
- Prepare a mixture using 15 gms each of essence of Bishops weed (Ajwain), camphor and peppermint. Then drop about 10 small piece of dried stem of turmeric into this mixture. After one week, take out these pieces. Take a piece of this turmeric and rub it alongwith water on the dry surface of sandstone. The resulting paste should be applied into the eyes. Regular use of this paste cures cataract.
- Prepare a mixture of Bocha (4 gms), Hing (Asafoetida) (2 gms) and Sonth (dried ginger) (2 gms). Mix it with 5 to 10 gms of honey and divide the paste into two equal parts. Eat one part each in the morning and evening. It is an effective remedy for Cataract.
- Take equal quantity of aniseed and coriander seeds and mix them. Then powder this mixture and add to it an equal quantity by weight of powdered unrefined crystal sugar (mishri), 10 to 15 grams of the resulting mixture should be taken twice a day. It will show positive result a few weeks.
- Prepare a mixture of equal quantities by weight of the extract white onion and honey and keep it in a corked bottle. Apply this mixture in the eyes before going to sleep every night. Regular use of this remedy is alos an excellent preventive and curative for Cataract.