Set sight on the vision- The New Indian Express

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We recently celebrated World Sight Day (October 12), raising awareness about the critical need to safeguard our most vital sensory organ—our eyes. Under the theme ‘Love Your Eyes at Work,’ this year’s focus was on preserving eye health at the workplace.

Netra Chikitsa is a branch of Ayurveda falling under Shalakyatantra, which is one of the eight specialties in the traditional system of Indian medicine, focusing on the treatment of diseases above the shoulders, including those affecting the ears, eyes, mouth and nose. Indriya refers to the sensory organs, and they are seen as tools of consciousness (jivatma or purusha). Among these senses, the eyes play a crucial role, as they allow individuals to interact with the world around them.

Netra, the eyes, are particularly associated with the pitta dosha. Therefore, they should be protected from exposure to excessive heat and other factors that can aggravate pitta. The eye is composed of various parts, including sandhi (junctions-medial and lateral canthus), vatma (eyelids), krsna mandala (pupil and iris or the centre of your eye), sukla mandala (the white of the eye), drshti (papillary region), and sarva gata (the entire eyeball). Treatments are determined based on the affected region, leading to terms like sandhigata roga and krsnagata roga.

Common Causes
Various factors that can lead to eye disorders are:
• Taking a head bath immediately after exercising or walking in the sun
• Emotional factors like weeping, anger, grief and stress
• Excessive consumption of sour, salty, and vinegar-rich foods
• Suppression of natural urges, especially tears
• Continuous gazing at distant objects
• Poor sleeping habits
• Smoking
• Sudation
• Excessive exposure to sunlight

Treatment Modalities
Ayurveda offers specific treatments for eye diseases. These may include panchakarma purification, such as vaman (therapeutic vomiting), viechana (therapeutic purgation) and vasthy (medicated enema). Additionally, specialised treatments like tarpanam (applying medicated ghee-based preparations to the eyes), ashyotanam (eye drops), pindi (medicated boluses for the eyes), bidalakam (external eye application of medicated paste), and sekam (washing the eyes with medicated kashayams) are employed.

Tarpanam Treatment
In modern times, cases of myopia (nearsightedness) are increasing, often due to prolonged gadget use. Tarpanam has the potential to reduce the need for corrective lenses. In the process, black gram dough rings are placed around the eyes and then medicated oil or ghee is poured over them. The patient is asked to keep their eyes shut during the application. It is poured until it reaches the eyelashes, after which the patient is instructed to blink their eyes. Students who undergo regular tarpanam sessions over five to seven days each year may prevent the need for glasses over time. Results, however, may vary from person to person.

Ayurveda provides treatments for various eye conditions, including diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa, keratoconus, high myopia, astigmatism, long-sightedness, and optic nerve atrophy. Early stages of cataracts, such as kaacham and linganasam, can also be treated with specific treatments. There are also modalities to prevent onset of cataract by regularly applying eye drops.

Maintaining Healthy Eyesight
To maintain healthy eyesight, it is crucial to get enough sleep, eat regular and timely meals, and live a stress-free life. Avoid late afternoon and late-night head baths. Traditional practices like applying elaneer kuzhambu, a special eye medicine, and using remedies such as ksheerabala 101, rasnadi choornam and kachuradi choornam in vertex are also recommended to preserve eye health.

The author is a Professor at the Department of Panchakarma, Ashtamgam Ayurveda Medical College, Kerala

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