Glaucoma, vision problems, and dry eyes are very common nowadays. Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness. This article discusses in detail the ayurvedic approaches to treat eye disorders.
Eyes perform one of the prime functions of the human body, that is, vision. Loss of vision greatly affects one's ability to function in day-to-day life. Most people try to cope with their vision problems until it becomes an emergency. Taking eyes for granted must be stopped now! Conditions like ocular hypertension, glaucoma, eye strain due to prolonged screen use, etc., are all preventable if proper eye care techniques are followed. The good news is that most eye disorders are treatable, but prompt identification is crucial in successful treatment.
Ocular hypertension is nothing but elevated pressure inside the eyeball. In clinical terms, it can be defined as the presence of elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) in the absence of optic nerve damage or loss of visual field. Normal intraocular pressure is between 10 mm Hg - 21 mm Hg. Usually, the fluids in the eye drain. When they fail to drain properly, the pressure within the eye gets elevated. This pressure buildup within the eye leads to a condition called glaucoma, the most common complication of ocular hypertension. In glaucoma, the elevated eye pressure damages the optic nerve resulting in vision loss.
Ocular hypertension and glaucoma are not the same things. Ocular hypertension, when ignored, can lead to glaucoma. While the optic nerve is damaged in glaucoma, it is not in ocular hypertension.
The human eye continuously produces a clear fluid called aqueous humor that flows in the front of the eye. This fluid simultaneously gets drained to flow out of the eye. This process balances the eye pressure. When the fluid does not flow or drain properly, excess fluid builds up within the eye leading to elevated eye pressure.
People at high risk of ocular hypertension are;
Those aged above 40 years.
People with myopia (short-sightedness).
American-Africans and Hispanics.
Those with comorbidities like diabetes, hypertension.
Family history of ocular hypertension.
Long-term steroid therapy.
Those with previous eye surgery.
Glaucoma is characterized by having multiple eye disorders, including optic nerve damage, loss of visual field, and permanent damage to vision leading to blindness. It is called a "silent thief of sight." As discussed earlier, in glaucoma, pressure buildup within the eye damages the optic nerve leading to vision loss. The optic nerve is made of millions of nerve fibers. These fibers get damaged, and blind spots in vision develop. These blind spots increase with damage to more fibers, eventually leading to blindness.
Gradually progressive visual field loss.
Optic nerve changes.
Seeing halos around lights.
There are two types of glaucoma;
Primary Open-Angle Glaucoma - This common type of glaucoma develops gradually with no visual changes in the beginning.
Closed-Angle Glaucoma - In this type of glaucoma, the iris is situated very close to the drainage angle such that it blocks the drainage. This leads to an immediate rise in pressure. This is an acute attack and is a medical emergency. If not intervened immediately, it might result in blindness.
Older individuals above the age of 50 years and those who are having diabetes and hypertension need to check for intraocular pressure every 6 months to 1 year without fail to prevent complications like glaucoma. Vision loss can be prevented and treated by detecting glaucoma early.
All these eye disorders are explained in ayurveda in Sarva akshi roga – abhishyanda and adhimantha.
According to ayurveda, the following treatments give positive results:
Sekam - pouring of medicated liquid over closed eyes from a specific height.
Pindi - Bandaging a medicated bolus over a closed eye for a stipulated time period.
Bidalaka - Application of medicated paste over the eyelids for a stipulated time.
Other than these, there are other treatment modalities like tarpana, virechana, and internal medications to treat ocular hypertension, glaucoma, and its complications.
Computer Vision Syndrome (CVS) or digital eye strain is caused due to prolonged use of computers, tablets, smartphones, and gadgets with screens emitting blue light. Your eyes have to work harder to view your computer or mobile screens, and this is due to,
The presence of glare.
Screen reflections, which make the eye strain more to focus.
Reduced contrast levels of the letters to the background.
Less defined words on digital screens.
Closer viewing distance.
Redness of eyes.
Irritation in the eye.
Prevention is by "20 20 20 rule," that is, every 20 minutes, focus the eyes on an object 20 feet away for 20 seconds. Otherwise, it is advised to close the eyes for 20 seconds, at least every half hour. In ayurveda, netra tarpana, siro pichu, shirodhara give very promising results.
DES is nothing but excessive dryness in the eyes, caused due to decreased tear production or increased tear film evaporation.
Signs and symptoms include,
Foreign body sensation in the eyes.
Continuously blink the eyes, avoid straining the eyes, reduce the exposure to the dry or dusty environment, and avoid prolonged usage of computer or mobile.
In ayurveda, treatment includes snehapana, nasya, tarpana, ghrita aschyothana, and ayurvedic seka.
The following tips help achieve healthy eyes and prevent or reduces the risk of eye diseases:
Include carrot, papaya, grapes, muskmelon, amla, squash, green leafy vegetables, egg, milk, fish, and meat in your diet frequently.
Reduce the intake of salts and pickles.
Reduce the screen time, that is, use of computers, television, mobile phones.
Use proper lighting while working and reading.
Do regular eye exercises, yoga, trataka (concentrating at a particular point) to improve your vision and to correct the eyesight without glasses and surgery.
These ayurvedic medications must be used with the guidance of an ayurveda practitioner as the dosages, dilutions, and strengths of the medicine might be altered according to the person's health condition and age. A regular visit to the ophthalmologist, even in the absence of eye disorders or vision problems, benefits eye health by detecting any disease (if present) in the earlier stages.
Last reviewed at:
05 Feb 2022 - 5 min read
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