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In addition to including lutein-rich, lymphatic-moving foods in the diet and the eye health strategies I discussed in a previous newsletter, there are two traditional practices that you can do at home to support your eyes that I will be discussing in this blog and an upcoming blog.
It is estimated that 75-90 percent of office workers who use computers regularly suffer from vision concerns related to their screen time usage. (1) To address these issues, limiting screen time is the best solution, but for those of us without that option, simple changes in computer use routines or environmental factors have been shown to help. These include:
- Cutting the glare. When using a computer, lighting should be approximately half of the normal room illumination. Change the lighting around you to reduce glare on the computer screen. If a nearby window is casting glare on your screen, close the shades until the glare disappears. Putting a glare filter over the screen monitor also can help protect your eyes. (2)
- Rearrange your desk. Researchers have found the optimal position for your computer monitor to be slightly below eye level, about 2 feet away from the face. You can also put a stand next to your computer monitor and place any printed materials you’re working from on it. (2)
- Give your eyes a break. It is suggested to follow the 20/20/20 rule: After 20 minutes of working on a computer, look away from the screen at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds to keep your eye muscles from straining in one position for too long. Blink often to keep the eyes moist. (2)
- Tweak your computer settings. You don’t have to live with the factory-installed settings on your computer if you’re uncomfortable. Adjust the brightness to match your surroundings and increase the contrast to reduce or eliminate discomfort. Increasing the font size to your comfort level will also reduce eye strain. (2)
- Consider computer-specific eye wear. For those who use vision correcting glasses or contacts, a set of prescription glasses specifically for computer has been shown to reduce discomfort and concerns. Contact lens users can benefit especially, as they tend to become dry and uncomfortable more quickly with screen time. (2)
While these simple changes can help to address the everyday concerns associated with regular screen time, they aren’t effective at correcting the underlying imbalance that according to Ayurveda is at the root of many everyday vision concerns.
A Traditional Ayurvedic Perspective
According to Ayurveda, the eyes are a hot or pitta organ that can be aggravated easily by environmental factors or when summer heat accumulates. Triphala is a balancing herb that can help address pitta imbalance in the eye and the appearance of dry, tired eyes.
The first Ayurvedic practice for this is called a Triphala Eye Wash – where you use triphala boiled in purified water to rinse the eyes to refresh them and rejuvenate the appearance of tired eyes and naturally bring them back into balance. For maintenance, a Triphala Eye Wash may be best in the spring or early summer when the eyes are more prone to congestion.
One recent study took 151 people complaining of eye concerns related to computer use and broke them up into three groups with different protocols. One group received a triphala solution 4 times a day for 30 days. The other two groups received either different Ayurvedic applications or a placebo. The triphala solution group reported significant improvements in their impression of tired & dry eyes compared to the other groups who reported minimal noticeable change. (3)
Making Triphala Eye Wash – An Ayurvedic Home Remedy for Tired Eyes
Disclaimer: While Ayurveda has been employing this technique for thousands of years to address underlying imbalances in the eyes, modern sanitary practices and FDA guidelines strictly prohibit the use of non-sterile or home-sterilized solutions in daily eye care routines. As a result, we must recommend against engaging in this traditional practice. Consult with your healthcare practitioner before beginning any eye care regimen that involves introduction of foreign material into the eye itself. Home-sterilized solutions cannot prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and are not a substitute for modern eye care products.
Boil ¼-½ teaspoon of organic triphala powder (you can also open and use 2 capsules of triphala) for 2-3 minutes in 8 ounces of purified water using sterile cooking equipment (never use triphala that has come into contact with other food or non-sterile utensils). Let it cool to body temperature and strain using a sterile ultra-fine sieve or filter (never use triphala water that still contains solid triphala particles).
For application, it is easiest to use eye cups that you can purchase from a pharmacy and sterilize before every use. Fill the eye cup or glass with the newly prepared triphala water, and press that eye glass or eye cup against the eye. Then, tip the head back and open your eyes. Blink and look all around in slow circles to allow the triphala to penetrate the entire eye. Keep this up for 15-60 seconds. Stop instantly if this causes any discomfort or pain.
Repeat this daily for a month with fresh triphala water each day to counteract pitta imbalance and refresh and rejuvenate the eyes (never reuse triphala water that has been allowed to sit for more than a couple of minutes or that has already come into contact with your eyes, as harmful bacterial growth is a serious concern that can result in permanent eye damage or blindness).
Note: Abnormally dry, itchy, or watery eyes, blurry or double vision, glare sensitivity and excessive tear secretion are all potential signs of an underlying genetic condition or serious disease. If you experience any of these symptoms for more than 72 consecutive hours, make an appointment to see a vision health specialist immediately.