Most people only pay attention to their eyes if they have a problem. Yet the hours spent watching TV and working on computers take their toll on eye health.
According to Ayurveda, the eyes are one of the most important organs in the body. All five elements play a role in maintaining eye health. Earth (prithivi) governs the muscular part of the eye, fire (tejas) rules the blood vessels, air (vayu) governs the color, water (apu) dominates the white area, and space (akasha) controls the tear ducts and channels. Here are some simple things you can do to prevent eye disease and improve your vision.
Healthy Eye Habits
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 (near-sightedness), so watch TV from at least ten feet away--not too near and not too far.
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 to drive or read with, as this will cause strain.
One of the biggest enemies of the eyes is lack of 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. If you wake up in the night and can't fall back asleep, try Deep Rest.
Morning Eye 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.
Yoga for Your Eyes
Yogic eye exercises, if done daily, are a gentle and effective way to prevent vision problems for developing. They are especially recommended for children, but adults can help prevent far-sightedness from developing in middle age, and even people who wear glasses can prevent their vision from getting worse.
If you already do yoga regularly, continue with your normal routine because most yogic exercises have a good effect on the eyes.
Yogic Eye Exercises (for strengthening eye muscles and releasing stress)
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 (for releasing stress from the eyes)
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).
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.
1. Every thirty 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.
2. Dampen two wads of cotton 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.