Due to the high use of electronic devices, and excessive eye engagement, many of us commonly face eye strain & eye fatigue. We have recently been receiving a lot of queries on tackling eye fatigue and improving vision through Ayurveda. So we have re-written and expanded one of our earlier posts on this subject. This post will explore how you can easily & visibly reduce eye fatigue & eye strain with Ayurveda .
Do you have eye strain?
Do you constantly feel eye fatigue? Do you develop headaches after a long bout at your computer? Are you experiencing premature greying and hair dryness? Do your eyes feel dry, scratchy and itchy? You could be experiencing computer vision syndrome / computer related eye strain.
Eye strain is a real and wide-spread problem today, which affects both children and adults. For several hours every day, we stare at electronic screens across phones, tablet, TV and computers.
As we continually use our eyes for subtle / sookshma purposes, we strain the minute eye muscles and do not allow them a chance to recover or relax. So we are all affected with eye strain 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 eye strain are the number of hours of screen-time, the size of the screen, the strength of your vision, light levels and posture.
Causes for Eye Strain 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) leading to eye strain
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.
An example of Ushnabhitaptasya causing eye strain:
Many of us use our smartphones to read / chat whilst in our cars. The environment is usually an airconditioned one. Also, Indian roads are NOT smooth, so we travel in jerky conditions with sudden braking and stops – the eye muscle has to work harder in such a jerky / moving environment.
So apart from the strain of reading from a small device, we are also over-working the eye muscle by making it focus on a small screen in jerky, non-smooth motion.
All of this eye work is done in the cold confines of our car air conditioner, so we unknowingly causing Ushnabhitaptasya.
Vision distortion due to over-reliance on one kind of eye work – Doorekshanat :
All of us are subject to the complications of Dorrekshanat, as we have all transitioned to using our eyes for only one kind of work.
Increasingly, as we all become knowledge workers, we no longer use our eyes and muscles for doing work that involves eye work over the long distance or even over the medium distance. All work that involves using our hands to make large movements – sewing, cutting, cooking, pottery, painting, other forms of art involves both fine and moderate eye work.
Any form of outdoor physical work like working in the fields, cleaning, sweeping, walking to fill water, etc involves both medium and long distance eye work.
Instead, most of us who work in office environments work only using our laptops, computers and phones. So we substitute the wide range of work our eye is supposed to do, with a large amount of fine work or sookshma work.
This is referred to as “Doorekshanat” in Ayurveda – interestingly the Samhitas say that too much of any one kind of eye work – long distance eye work or short / fine distance eye work strains the eyes. This distorts the vision, over accustoming the eye muscle to only one kind of work.
In ancient times, the samhitas tell us that jewellers and those who worked with very fine and intricate crafts like small paintings and canvases, etc were subject to Doorekshanat.
Krodha, Shoka & Bhaya (Anger, Grief and Fear) leading to eye strain
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.
Anyone who has undergone loss, depression or grief will know that the eyes feel wrung over after a bout of weeping. When this continues for a long time, it tends to affect eye health and vision quality.
A special note on PMS
Many women are prone to pre menstrual tension / depression. This is aggravated when we follow an improper diet which is high in Pitta and Vata stimulating foods. Not only can such foods increase bloating and discomfort, they can also trigger strong PMS symptoms like temper tantrums, fits of weeping, mood swings, etc. There is a lot of advertising and media driven acceptance of PMS and women are asked to “indulge” themselves during this time.
The acceptance of and acknowledgement of PMS is in itself a good thing. But unfortunately, this acceptance comes with encouraging unhealthy food habits which will further trigger PMS. For example: chocolates, wine, fried foods etc are common cravings during PMS and during periods. Chocolates and wine excite Pitta dosha. Fried foods excite Pitta and vata dosha.
If your diet consists of such foods before and during your periods, you will regularly notice that your temper is out of control and you have depressive mood swings leading to high amount of weeping, and eye strain due to binge watching television, etc. This should be observed and dealt with.
Ayurveda says that menstruating women should be cheerful and in good temper, eating healthy pathya food, and must avoid mental and physical strain at all cost. This is not just good for eye health but promotes overall feminine health and well being.
Vega vinigraha (suppression of natural urges) leading to eye strain :
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 and increase eye strain.
Viruddha Ahara (incompatible food) :
Ushna, Lavana and Amla ahara (salty, spicy and sour tastes) aggravate eye strain because these 3 tastes aggravate Pitta dosha. When Pitta dosha is aggravated in the body, the amount of Agni energy in the eye increases – this weakens the accompanying muscles in the eye , causing higher eye strain and eye watering.
We receive a lot of enquiries from stressed out, type A individuals who write to ask seeing help for premature greying and hair thinning. On investigation, we find a predominance of Pitta aggravating foods being eaten by such people like curd, spicy food, chinese food, etc.
When such Pitta aggravating foods are eaten in a time of high stress, it further compounds the body’s Pitta dosha. This leads to hair greying, hair thinning, acidity, digestive issues, inability to relax / sleep and also affects eye health and well being.
Ratri Jagarati – (Night vigil) / Insomnnia or delayed sleep :
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.
Ayurveda says that a disease must be tackled from the “Hetu” or root cause. So also, eye strain must be treated by examining the root causes listed above.
If you have nodded yes to any of the points mentioned above like Ratri Jagriti, Doorekshanat , Virruddha ahara, etc, you must first start by correcting some of these behaviors. In addition, here are some Ayurvedic recommendations on how we can reduce / prevent eye fatigue below.
Reduce Eye Strain with Ayurveda in these easy ways:
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).
When in your car, avoid working your eyes. Use this time to gaze out of the window, instead and engage in long distance eye work instead. Keep the temperature at a comfortable degree. If not, lightly wrap yourself using a jacket / shawl in your car.
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.
If you work in an air conditioned environment, it is possible that your neck muscles and shoulders are also strained from hunching over your laptop. A short walk around the block every 2 hours will help stretch out these muscles and also give your eyes a rest.
Most of us also have strained our blink reflex with excessive screen use. Remember to gently blink your eyes every 4 – 5 minutes or so to ensure your eyes do not go dry. Shifting your eye range also helps in this.
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!
This is very common among women who are embarrassed to use the washroom due to public scorn / ridicule. This is also a problem when we are in public places and are afraid of unclean washrooms. Again: the possibility of an infection form an unclean washroom is less of a health issue compared to not using the washroom at all.
So, JUST GO! Please encourage your children to listen to their natural urges and not “learn the bad habit of suppression”.
Reduce screen glare and over-bright light :
Control the amount of bright light your eyes work in. Many computer and smartphone screens are set to the highest level of brightness. This is unnecessary and extremely fatiguing to your eyes. 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 regular Pada abhyanga to improve eye strength and vision clarity:
Pada abhyanga is a gem of a dinacharya that is a gift from Ayurveda. When regularly done, Pada abhyanga deepens sleep, improves energy levels the next day, removes excessive fatigue and strain stored in the legs, balances vata dosha, and most importantly , gives “drishti prasadaka” or vision clarity.
This Drishti prasadaka benefit of Pada abhyanga can be explained using references from various Ayurvedic texts. Bhela Samhita tells us that one important centre of Alochaka Pitta is the feet. Alochaka Pitta is a sub division of Pitta dosha that is responsible for good vision. Alochaka Pitta’s primary centre is the Liver – so eating Pitta aggravating food over stimulates Alochaka Pitta which leads to eye degeneration.
But by doing a regular Pada abhyanga AND adopting a Pitta balancing diet, we can temper the Alochaka Pitta and help strengthen the eye.
Acharya Vagbhatta tells us that 2 important Siras (veins / circulatory vessels) of the eye end in the feet. Through the process of pada abhyanga using special herbs and oils, we can detoxify and strengthen these 2 Siras, thus helping nourish the eyes.
Regulating aggravated Pitta dosha through Ahara Niyama (diet + food regulation) :
Regulating Pitta dosha helps regulate Pitta aggravation in the eye.
At Krya, we advise various means of regulating Pitta through Ahara. This can be read in detail in some of our earlier posts on this.
In short, the addition of madhura and ojas building dravyas like milk and ghee to the diet, using a careful selection of spoces that warm and aid digestion but do not irritate the body (pepper, cumin and not red and green chillies), help balance aggravated Pitta. To ensure Pitta does not flare up, we advise following ahara niyama (meal regulations) like eating meals on time. Delayed and untimely meals are a strong aggravator of both Pitta and vata dosha.
Adding cooling grains and vegetables like split mung, aged rice, and gourds (ash gourd, ridge gourd, bottle gourd, snake gourd, parwal) are also very useful 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.
Night sky gazing is an excellent practice to counter feelings of depression, high stress, inability to switch off and aggravated Pitta-vata dosha. At Krya, we have seen that consumers with moderate depression, anxiety and stress related hairfall, benefit greatly from this practice. It helps calm down the brain and visibly brings down stress.
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.
Many of us use broadband and wi-fi at home to surf the net / watch television, etc. We often forget to switch off this wi-fi signal at night. Many of us also sleep with our cell phones in the bedroom near our heads.
These practices increase the amount of radiation our body absorbs over time. Research tells us that this radiation exposure causes deep seated fatigue and vibratory responses in the body. Minute nerve cells are excited by these radiation based energies and vibrate in response to them causing depletion of ojas and fatigue in the body. So from both eye health and overall well being, an electronic and radiation cut off is extremely beneficial for the family.
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.
Frequent eye washing using pure, clean water
Eye washing is an approved Ayurvedic practice to clarify the eyes, remove toxins and balance aggravated Pitta.. We will do a more detailed post on this later on the Krya blog.
Eye washing is recommended using pure clean water, or herb infused water in Ayurveda in the following times: on waking up, after meals. Each of these has a slightly different effect on the eyes, which we will read about in a later post.
For the best eye cleansing, we are asked to hold clean, cool and pure water in our mouths while washing the eyes. Once you have finished washing the eyes, the water held in the mouth can be discarded.
A Summary: ayurvedic practices to strengthen vision naturally and reduce eye strain
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 : just 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” in 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 eye strain and eye fatigue. 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 to reduce Eye fatigue :
- For very high Pitta aggravation – (premature greying, scalp dryness due to high heat, and hair thinning) – choose the Krya Vibrant hair colour hair oil . This hair oil is very potent. If you experience high premature greying, hair thinning, have anger management issues, are a type A personality and have high stress (and other such signs of classic pitta prakriti / pitta agravation), please choose this 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