Anatomy of the Eye
The eye is a slightly asymmetrical globe, about an inch in diameter. The round shape of the eye is maintained by the pressure of the aqueous humour. The aqueous humour is the fluid that fills the front chamber of the eye. The front part of the eye (the part you see in the mirror) includes:
- The iris (the pigmented part)
- The cornea (a clear dome over the iris)
- The pupil (the black circular opening in the iris that lets light in)
- The sclera (the white part) and
- The conjunctiva (a thin layer of tissue covering the front of the eye, except the cornea)
Just behind the iris and pupil lies the lens, which helps to focus light on the back of the eye. Most of the eye is filled with a clear gel called the vitreous. Light projects through the pupil and the lens to the back of the eye. The inside lining of the eye is covered by special light-sensing cells that are collectively called the retina. The retina converts light into electrical impulses. The optic nerve carries these impulses to the brain. The macula is a small extra-sensitive area within the retina that gives central vision. It is located in the center of the retina and contains the fovea, a pit at the center of the macula that gives the clearest vision.
Eye colour is created by the amount and type of pigment in the iris. Multiple genes inherited from each parent determine a person’s eye colour.
An eye works with the brain to provide us with vision. The light rays are bent, refracted and focused by the cornea, lens and vitreous. The job of the lens is to make sure the rays come to a sharp focus on the retina. The resulting image on the retina is upside-down. Here at the retina, the light rays are converted to electrical impulses, which are then transmitted through the optic nerve to the brain where the image is translated and perceived in an upright position.
Some common eye problems include:
- Diabetic Retinopathy
It is caused by changes in the blood vessels of the retina of diabetic patients.
- Retinitis pimentosa
Retinitis pigmentosa is the name given to a group of inherited eye diseases that affect the retina. It causes the degeneration of photoreceptor cells in the retina. As these cells degenerate and die, patients experience progressive vision loss.
- Macular degeneration
It is a disease that destroys your sharp, central vision.
Age related macular degeneration is a leading cause of vision loss at the age of 60 years and older.
Glaucoma is a disease caused by Increased Intraocular Pressure (IOP) resulting either from a malformation or malfunction of the eye’s drainage structures. Left untreated, an elevated IOP causes irreversible damage the optic nerve and retinal fibres resulting in a progressive, permanent loss of vision.
- Retinal detachment
A retinal detachment is a serious and sight threatening event, occurring when the retina gets separated from its underlying supportive tissue. The retina cannot function when these layers are detached and unless it is reattached soon, permanent vision loss may result.
- Myopic degeneration
Progressive myopia causes degeneration of retina and retinal detachment resulting in permanent loss of vision.
Eyes can get infected by bacteria, fungi or viruses. Treatment depends on the cause of the infection and may include compresses, eye drops, creams or antibiotics.
- Dry eyes
This happens when your eyes can't make enough good-quality tears. You might feel like something is in your eye or like it’s burning. Rarely, in severe cases, extreme dryness can lead to some loss of vision.
These are tiny spots or specks that float across your field of vision. Most people notice them in well-lit rooms or outdoors on a bright day.
- Severe, sudden eye pain.
- Recurrent pain in or around the eye.
- Hazy, blurred, or double vision.
- Seeing flashes of light or sudden bright floating spots.
- Seeing rainbows or halos around lights.
- Seeing floating "spider webs"
- Seeing a "curtain coming down" over one eye.
- Symptoms of eye infections may include redness, itching, swelling, discharge, pain or problems with vision.
- Tiredness in eyes.
सर्वेन्द्रियाणां नयनं प्रधानम्। – नीति शतकं
Eyes are not most important of all the sensory organs – Neeti Shataka
In ancient Ayurvedic texts, a number of cleansing procedures have been described and many of them are found to be effective in complete eye care. However, unlike other cleanses of Cleansing therapy, I advise to practice these cleanses in supervision of a trained healer initially.
- Netra vasti (basti)
This is a special treatment in which the eyes are bathed in pure medicated cow ghee. This procedure takes 15 minutes. It is very useful in conditions like dry eye syndrome, chronic conjunctivitis, corneal ulcer and glaucoma.
- Medicated cow / ghee
Medicated ghee is filled in a flour compartment (vasti) constructed around the eye / eyes and left in place for a fixed duration of time. This procedure nourishes strengthens the eyes and cures the eye diseases.
- Relieves strain caused due to constant glaring at the computer and TV screen
- Helps in preventing early formation of cataract
- Reduces pain and burning sensation in the eyes
- Offers a good relaxation and cooling effect to the eyes
“Nasa hi shirsodwaram”.
According to Ayurveda, “the nose is the door to the head” and if medicated oil is dropped in each of the nostrils, it helps in cure of eyes, nose and other problems of the head.
Ingredients (any one of the following oils or ghee to be used):
- Sahchar tail
- Anu tail
- Panchendriyavardhan tail
Nasyakriya or Nasyam involves the instillation of 2-5 drops of medicated oil or ghrit in each nostril. Its impacts are very diverse. It removes mucous clogs, cleans and clears the head channels, stimulates the brain cells and central nervous system.
It is highly beneficial in curing problems of the eyes. It is also used to treat diseases like paralysis, parkinson's disease, complex headache, acute sinusitis, Bell's palsy, arthritis and cervical spondylitis.
Extended treatments give wonderful results for good health management. It stimulates the brain cells and promotes intelligence and memory power, prevents ageing, refreshes oral cavities and improves hair growth. The sensory organs become stronger, immunity builds up and the person becomes cheerful and brisk. Nasyam also improves hearing and the skin texture.
- Shiro dhara
Shiro-dhara involves gently pouring liquids over the forehead and can be one of the steps involved in Panchakarma. The name comes from the Sanskrit words shiro (head) and dhara (flow).
Ingredients and tools (any of the following to be used):
- ksheera bala taila
- karpasasthyadi tailam
- chandanadi ailam
- dhanwantharam tailam
- narayana tailam
- shirodhara table
- shirodhara pot or shirodhara electric machine
In this, a continuous stream of warm medicated oil/herbal decoctions/medicated milk/buttermilk is poured onto the forehead for 45 to 90 minutes. This procedure often induces a mental state similar to a trance, which creates profound relaxation of the mind and body. Thus, it helps the health of the eyes in a direct manner.
- Strengthens central nervous system (CNS)
- Strengthens sensory organs including eyes
- Reduces stress and anxiety
- Decreases hypertension
- Shiro vasti
Shirovasti or Shiro Vasti is a word comprising of 2 terms - Shiro meaning head and Vasti meaning pooling of herbal oils and or medicated liquids on the head.
Ingredients and tools
Medicated ghee or Sesame oil (unless specified), Taila (herbal oils), coconut oil or any herbal and Cow ghrit oil.
This is the most important of all external use of oil application. Any of the above, lukewarm herbal oils are poured into a cap fitted on the head for 15 to 60 minutes per day according to the patient's conditions for a period of seven days.
Its effects are marvellous in optic atrophy, deafness, facial paralysis and all diseases affecting the cranial nerves.
Eyes that are perpetually dry or itchy due to allergies may benefit from homemade eyewash. Some people also use homemade eyewash as a way to relieve tired or strained eyes or to make eyes seems refreshed.
- Water and Salt
A very simple recipe for homemade eyewash is to boil one cup of water with one teaspoon of salt. This liquid can then be used alone as both an eyewash and a nasal rinse.
- Green Tea
This homemade eyewash is a simple mixture of two parts of brewed green tea and one part of water. This is thought to make the eyes feel refreshed and cooler.
- Chamomile (बबूने का फूल )
Add one teaspoon of dried chamomile flowers to one cup of boiled water. Steep for five minutes, strain, let it cool and use as an eyewash. Alternatively, add 12 drops of tincture of chamomile to one cup of boiled water, cool and use as an eyewash.
- Goldenseal (पीतकंद)
Make a solution using two teaspoons of the goldenseal to a cup of boiled water and use for a warm compress. It may also be used as eye drops, 2-3 drops, three times daily.
- Aloe Vera Juice
Freeze aloe vera juice and then mix with a little bit of cold water and using a clean piece of cotton, place this mixture over your eyes.
- Castor Oil
Purchase a clean dropper, wash it thoroughly with soapy water and rinse well. Suck 100-percent pure castor oil into the dropper. Administer one drop of oil into each eye. Repeat this three times a day or as needed. The castor oil will soothe the eye and reduce the swelling and redness.
- Warm milk and honey
Use equal parts of both honey and milk, making sure the milk is warm (not boiling). Mix it and keep stirring until the honey becomes smooth in the milk. Use an eyedropper and drop 2-3 drops into your eye several times a day. Alternatively, you can use this mixture as a compress.
- Apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar contains malic acid and fights against bacterial infections. Mix one table spoon of pure apple cider vinegar with a cup of water. Use this mixture to wash your eyes by using a cotton ball.
- Rose water
Rose water is very helpful when a person has sore eyes. Take a cotton ball soaked in rose water and place it over the eyes. This will provide immediate relief and most of the burning will be gone after about five minutes.
- Baking soda
Make a soothing eyewash by mixing 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda in 1/2 cup of water. Soak cotton in the solution and keep it on your eyes, doing your best to hold it open and roll it around for one full minute.
- Turmeric (हल्दी), the best home recipe for eyes
Take about 10 gms of turmeric powder and dissolve it in cold water. Soak eye gauze in this water and put a piece over each eye. Cover these with water soaked towels and put some ice cubes on the towels for continuous coolness to the eye. Do this for 20 minutes for 7 days. This clears sclera and dissolves floaters in the eye. Improvement in vision is immediately noticed. Turmeric contains Curcumin antioxidant which has been found to prevent cataracts.
Note: None of these homemade products should be kept for more than a day or two, since they have no added preservatives, they may introduce bacteria to the eye.
Benefits of Eye Cleanse
- Relieves feeling of darkness due to irritation after exposure to light
- Relieves stiffness or rigidity in the eyes
- Beneficial for the extreme dryness of the eyes
- Cures injuries to the eye
- Beneficial in diseases of the eyes caused due to aggravation of Vata and Pitta
- Helps in abnormal deviation of eye ball
- Stops falling down of eye lashes
- Removes dirtiness of eyes
- Makes it easy to open or close the eyes
- Cure of cellulitis (acute orbital cellulitis) occurring in the eyes
- Cures hyperaemia of conjunctiva conjunctivitis, Glaucoma, atrophy of the cranial nerves, inflammation of cornea and pacifies the redness of eyes, tearing, pain, irritation and dirt