How to use Ayurveda to protect your eyes from endless screen time

by Eva Dusch

Ayurveda is big on protecting the eyes - we can all learn how to counterbalance our heavy screen time from this multidimensional healing system. Avoiding our virtual worlds might not be an option, but good eye care is.  

Let’s be honest: there is no getting away from screen time in today’s world, especially not in quarantine, where we are tied to our phones and computers even more than usual. Whoever dips their toes into the Ayurvedic waters will soon find out why taking care of our eyes is extremely important.

According to Ayurveda, the eyes are one of the most important sensory organs in the body. According to Maharishi Ayurveda, it relates to the five elements that play an important role in maintaining eye health. Earth (prithvi) 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. 

How to protect your eyes
Ayurveda is big on protecting the eyes -but why? ‘They are the biggest gateways of the body,’ as our teacher Victoria Hyndman would say. Our eyes are the most important sense organs we have in contact with the world around us. We’ve all heard  the saying ‘the eyes are the window to the soul.’ In traditional medicine, looking into the eyes is used to gather information about illnesses, even those that go far beyond the eyes. We need to protect them and take care of these delicate organs.

If we look at it from a physical perspective, the balance of moisture (for sclera) and heat (for vision) needs to be just perfect. Yes, just perfect (you see, this is a delicate business). But given our new reality with all this screen time - our eyes can often be hot, dry, irritated, and overworked. We may not even notice it and leave it unchecked for hours or even days. But this can affect our entire nervous system, leaving us irritated, anxious, or restless. 

Spend a few minutes and pick a couple of practices from this list each day to protect your eyes so you can see brightly and clearly. 

Cool water wash
Every morning upon waking (either before or after using the toilet), fill your mouth with water and hold it there, then splash cool (not ice-cold!) water over your open eyes. Traditionally, you’re not supposed to swallow or spit out the water, but keep it in your mouth as you sprinkle cool water on your eyes. This has a double cooling effect, both from outside and the oral cavity. It makes your eyes feel fresh, happy, and cheerful.

Good old cucumbers
The use of cucumbers in health care is ancient. A slice of cucumber placed on the eyes helps them relax while reducing redness, puffiness, and the appearance of bags.

Rose Water
This treatment is very soothing and refreshing for tired and stressed eyes. Dampen two cotton pads with some rose water and place them over your closed eyes. Relax for a few minutes like this.

Watch the sunset/sunrise
According to Vedic Astrology, the Sun rules the eyes. Looking at the sun (indirectly, that is) can improve your vision. Doing this will not only improve your eyesight but also activate the pineal gland or the ‘third eye’, clearing your mind of depression and anxious thoughts. To get the full benefits, make sure you sit at least for 10 minutes in the sun every morning or evening.

Staring into a Ghee lamp
A traditional method is to stare into the flame of a Ghee lamp. How to do this? Take a small bowl, place a cotton wick (no synthetic cotton!) in it, and add Ghee. Gaze into the light for 2-3 minutes without blinking.

Palming
Rub your palms together for a few seconds. You’ll start to feel a mild heat that is created by this action. Close your eyes and gently place the left palm over the left eye and the right palm over the right eye. Do not put any pressure on them, just let them gently rest there. Breathe in and out slowly to release stress. Repeat this a few times.

Eye exercises
The following exercises, recommended by Dr. Vasant Lad, will strengthen your eyes and improve circulation of the eccentric muscles of the eyeball.

1. First, blink your eyes rapidly several times. Then, with eyes open, move your eyes in this pattern.
- Up and down
- Side to side
- Diagonally from top left to bottom right
- Diagonally from top right to bottom left
- Clockwise in a circle
- Counterclockwise in a circle

2. Stretch your hand straight out in front of you with your index finger pointed vertically upward to the heavens. While looking at the tip of your index finger, gradually bring that finger closer and closer until you touch your third eye. Continue to look at the tip of your index finger and slowly start to take your index finger away from your third eye. Do this exercise three to five times in one sitting. Finally close your eyes tightly, then release.

3. After finishing the exercises or anytime when your eyes feel tired or strained, rub your palms vigorously together for a few seconds to generate some warmth, then place them lightly over your eyes. Feel how soothing the warmth is and your eyes become energized again. Keep them there for a minute or two. 

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This blog was written by a student in our Ayurveda Practitioner Studies degree programme. The advice given in this article is based on the text, The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies by Dr. Vasant Lad. 

If you are interested in becoming an Ayurveda Practitioner or want to deepen your professional knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of Ayurveda - see our website here.

About Eva Dusch

It’s when we look beyond the gross outer layers of life that we find our way to the more subtle layers that can shift your whole being and perspective on life. That’s how it felt when Eva encountered the path of Ayurveda. After years of practising yoga and meditation, it was the cherry on the cake. The foundation she was looking for, that connects everything. No matter where you go.   After working for years as a writer and freelance journalist, she took a big break in 2016 to travel the world. She went to all corners of the planet, living in New Zealand and South America for a while. As unstable and challenging the circumstances sometimes were, it was through yoga and Ayurveda that she found stability, balance, and inner peace. Something she brought back home with her when she returned to Amsterdam in the spring of 2019.   That same year, she started her journey with the Delight Academy to deepen her knowledge, skills, and experience in the field of Ayurveda. Her motivation to become an Ayurvedic Practitioner is to help people reconnect with their bodies and inner knowing again. Encouraging them to take their health into their own hands, using nutrition, awareness, and balance as tools. She believes in conscious, healthy, and joyful living inspired by the beauty and depth of Ayurvedic wisdom and holistic philosophies.   Photo credit: Kiki Reijners