Our series this week discusses 5 common problems that urban dwellers face and what Ayurveda recommends should be done to mitigate these problems. In this series we will be covering many problems unique to cities like eye strain due to high use of electronic devises, electro magnetic fatigue due to high amount of low frequency radiation around us, etc. It will astonish you to know that many of these have been indirectly referenced in the texts and have been discussed in detail , more than 3000 years ago.
The first in our series is eye fatigue and strain caused by over use of the laptop or smartphone: Computer vision syndrome.
Do you constantly feel eye fatigue? Do you develop headaches after a long bout at your computer? Are you seeing premature greying and hair dryness? Do your eyes feel dry, scratchy and itchy? You could be experiencing computer vision syndrome / computer related eye fatigue.
Computer Vision Syndrome is a real and wide-spread problem today, which affects both kids and adults. For several hours every day, we stare at electronic screens across phones, tablet, TV and computers. So we are all affected by CVS to varying degrees.
The symptoms are blurred vision, double vision, dry eyes, headaches, eye pain, neck strain, eye-irritation and eye watering. The factors that induce CVS are the number of hours of screen-time, the size of the screen, the strength of your vision, light levels and posture.
What are the reasons behind CVS as per Ayurveda?
It is astonishing that our ancient Ayurvedic texts are able to give us a rationale behind a seemingly modern problem. Acharya Sushruta tells us that all Netra Rogas (diseases of the eye), occur due to the following causes:
- Imbalance of hot and cold ( Ushnabhitaptasya) – When the body heat is very high, there is a vasodilation of blood vessels to help excess heat to be transmitted outside. When this hot body steps into a cold environment, the dilated vessels suddenly have to constrict to ensure heat loss is minimal. When we constantly keep having this change in temperature, we over-work all blood vessels, including the ones in the eyes, leading to eye redness, weak muscles and poor circulation.
- Doorekshanat – straining the eye muscles to see far away objects or to see fine and small objects (Sookshma vision) – This distorts the vision, over accustoming the eye muscle to only one kind of work
- Krodha, Shoka & Bhaya (Anger, Grief and Fear) – Emotional strain in difficult environments over aggravates the emotional qualities of Pitta and vata dosha. Krodha or anger activates Pitta dosha, and Shoka and Bhaya activates Vata dosha. The dosha aggravation strains the eye’s muscles.
- Vega vinigraha (suppression of natural urges) – In many office goers, we observe suppression of urges like urination – this is especially common among women. This leads to disturbance in Apana vayu and aggravates vata dosha throughout the body when it is carried out for a long time. The urge to sleep (nidra) and the urge to cry (Ashru) are both urges which should not be suppressed as per Ayurveda. Working well beyond our bed time, suppression strong emotional responses, and not blinking often to help the production of tears to moisten the eyes, worsen the health of our eyes.
- Vriddhi Ahara (incompatible food) – Ushna and Amla ahara (salty, spicy and sour tastes) aggravate eye strain. All 3 tastes aggravate Pitta dosha which increase the Agni in the eye, causing high eye strain and watering.
- Ratri Jagarati – (Night vigil) – In the texts, the Acharyas mention that certain occupations which require Night vigil (Ratri jagrati) are more prone to eye strain like soldiers, guards, etc. Today, Ratri Jagrati has become a common feature in many urban homes. Due to late night working, late dinners, and late television watching, we are all prone to eye strain due to use of the eyes at the wrong time.
We have seen the many reasons for Computer vision syndrome above. We explore the “Hetu” or etiological cause behind Computer vision syndrome to let you know what you must avoid doing. Therefore, in the long run, if you want to reduce eye strain and prevent degenerative eye disease, you must take an effort to reduce the above behaviors.
Eating pitta pacifying and not pitta aggravating food, going to sleep at the right time, avoiding suppressing urges like going to the washroom when you must, will help keep your body in a state of health and postpone the development of eye disease.
In addition, we will see specific Ayurvedic recommendations on how we can reduce / prevent eye fatigue below.
7 Ayurvedic recommendations to relieve eye fatigue:
Control the hot-cold imbalance 1 : Regular hair oiling to reduce Ushna
Keep the head cool and allow natural removal of excess ushna everyday through daily oil application. Remember, we encounter fresh stress everyday – so this fresh stress which aggravates pitta dosha must be tackled everyday by regular and frequent application of the right Ayurvedic hair oil. We have given recommendations for Krya hair oils below.
Control the hot-cold imbalance 2 – regulate the body temperature
Regulate the body temperature, especially if working in an air conditioned atmosphere. We often advise that you carry a light jacket / shawl to simulate the normal temperature outside your office. Request office admin to set temperatures between 24 – 26 degrees centigrade (this will also bring down electricity bills), and drink warming, non diuretic, and nourishing drinks in your office (so no tea, coffee, cola, cold fruit juices – instead warm water and a warm, natural spiced beverage is ideal).
Alternate between “Sookshma” and far vision:
Use your complete range of eye vision – so if you are constantly on a computer, take a break every hour or so to gaze into the distance (preferably at trees or greenery). Reduce your “Night vigil” and work towards saner and more balanced work timings.
Do not suppress natural urges:
Do NOT suppress natural urges like the urge to use the washroom, the urge to sleep or the urge to blink or yawn. If you are doing this often to appear polite and well mannered , you are setting up yourself for a serious range of eye diseases later on.
Suppressing the urge to visit the washroom tampers with “apana vayu” a sub set of vata dosha. This also sets up for more serious disorders related to the urinary and reproductive tract. So, when you gotta go, JUST GO!
Reduce screen glare and over-bright light
Control the amount of bright light your eyes work in. Many computer and smartphone screens are said to highest level of brightness. This along with the bright, white office lighting and pale walls, re-create the sun even in your office.
This amount of light is fatiguing and drying to the eyes. Re-set screen brightness and switch off a few lights if the room is bright enough. But do remember too much light AND too little light both strain vision – experiment and arrive at optimal light for yourself.
Re-set aggravated pitta and vata through regular abhyanga:
Balance aggravated pitta and vata through the body through regular abhyanga – a regular abhyanga helps dissipate aggravated vata and pitta dosha and moves it back to its original seat, thus bringing the body back to balance. We often see that people with high pitta aggravation experience profuse eye watering and release of hot vapour from their eyes when Abhyanga is done. This is a good indication both of how aggravated the dosha is and how powerfully the abhyanga works in restoring the body back to balance.
Practice Eye cooling measures:
Cool the agni in your eyes with the qualities of Soma (the moon). Overusing agni in the eyes leads to computer vision syndrome. Hence Ayurveda recommends increasing soma properties to the eyes. This can be done by doing the following:
Eating fresh, warm, nourishing foods:
Regulating Pitta dosha helps regulate Pitta aggravation in the eye. So addition of milk and ghee to the diet, using warming but not irritating spices like pepper, cumin and not red and green chillies, eating meals on time, and using cooling grains and vegetables like split mung, aged rice, and gourds all help in pitta regulation.
Star and Moon gazing are prescribed Ayurvedic practices to infuse cooling, nourishing energies into the eyes. This also helps counteract the strain brought by close gazing
Electronic cut off time:
At Krya, we often recommend a strict cut off time in cases of aggravated vata and pitta dosha. Setting limits for smartphone and laptop usage go a long way in restoring health and harmony to the body.
Application of cooling substances like Ayurvedic Kajal to the eyes:
Many synthetic eye make up products increase Pitta dosha in the eyes. They also contain ingredients like lead and other suspect minerals and substances which are transdermally absorbed through the eyes. Ayurveda recommends using only a suitable herbal kaajal that strengthens vision and cools the eyes.
Modern choices come with many serious, dangerous fall outs, which we remain unaware off. The practice of using a cell phone is barely 20 years old in India. Apps are even more recent – 3 / 4 years old. However, we have already begun reaping the ill effects of over use of these conveniences.
Ayurveda is always immensely practical – the Acharyas are not strict or “Methodist” n their advice. They always recommend leading a life of balance for good health.
We hope our post helped you appreciate many of the deeper reasons behind Computer vision syndrome. We also hope you will go through and follow the Ayurvedic recommendations we have suggested to help you get the most out of your eyes.
Krya Hair Oils that can help computer vision syndrome – all these oils will work, but you need to choose the right one depending upon the state of your hair:
- For very high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Vibrant hair colour hair oil
- For moderate – high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Classic hair oil
- Note : If in doubt whether your Pitta aggravation is moderate or severe, start with the Krya Classic hair oil . If after a month you do not see good progress, crank it up a notch with the Krya vibrant hair oil
- For Vata aggravation due to high stress (difficult work atmosphere, frequent air travel / travel, long commute, missed / skipped meals, difficulty sleeping, long working hours AND dry and falling hair ) – chose the Krya harmony hair oil
- For Vata aggravation due to moderate stress, inherently dry scalp, hair full of static, hair that breaks easily and forms split ends and is dull, rough – choose the Krya conditioning hair oil
- For Vata and Pitta aggravation due to excessive chemical treatments (lots of heat treatments, re-bonding, perming, straightening, twisting treatments, hair colouring) – Hair is dull, frizzy, difficult to manage, rough and straw like with very poor hair growth – choose the Krya Damage repair hair oil
- For Fungal dandruff (thick, yellow, flakes of dandruff with scalp thickening and itching) – choose the Krya Anti dandruff hair oil
Krya Abhyanga Products: