Our eyes are constantly taking in the world and assimilating the information to our nervous system. The ancient medical practices of Ayurveda recognize that the eyes are associated with the pitta dosha; the fire and water element which is responsible for transformation in the body. Here in Oregon a long, hot summer has ended and just as our crops feel a bit dehydrated and in need of rain, our body may also feel a little hot and bothered. The eyes are especially sensitive to the pitta dosha and we may notice more frequent eye-strain, or just dry and irritated eyes. For thousands of years Ayurveda has recommended that we eat cooked leafy greens to cool the heat in the eyes.
As with many traditional practices, science is now confirming these remedies as we gather data to assist us with our modern lifestyle choices. It turns out that leafy greens are very rich in carotenoids, which are a class of naturally occurring pigments that include beta-carotene, lycopene, lutein, and zeaxanthin.
Studies have shown that consumption of foods that are high in carotenoids are associated with reduced risks of age-related conditions and more recently, improved visual function. Lutein and zeaxanthin are the most important carotenoids for the eye because they are the only ones which literally accumulate in the vulnerable retinal tissues. Here they exert their protective antioxidant activity and play a role in shielding the eye from artificial blue light.
Unlike the natural blue light from the sun, which is important for healthy circadian rhythms, the artificial blue light from our screens and certain artificial lights can disrupt your circadian rhythm, affecting sleep quality. According to the National Eye Institute, the addition of lutein and zeaxanthin to your diet can support the health of aging eyes, though anyone of any age can benefit from these carotenoids’ preventative function. You can find both of these carotenoids in our Eyes Love Lutein™ formula, along with the added support of whole, organic Bilberry.
Other wonderful holistic practices for the eyes include:
- Palming your hands over your eyes for a minute or two
- Scanning the room slowly and being grateful for something you see
- Taking frequent breaks away from the screen and focused ‘close-up vision’
- Spending as much time as possible out in nature, especially water
- Add in cooling foods such as cooked, dark leafy greens (kale, dandelion, collards), melons, zucchini, cilantro and coconut and other carotenoid-rich vegetables such as blueberries, bilberries, sweet potatoes, carrots, sweet peppers, dried apricots and peaches
- Reduce/eliminate spicy foods, coffee and alcohol
- Using a cool compress on closed eyelids (even better if you soak the compress in rose hydrosol)
- Try to find more balance within your work schedule
In-house Ayurvedic Health Coach & Herbalist