Your eyes are the windows to your world. Learn all you need to know about your eyes here.
Fig: Structure of human eye
The cavity of the orbit contains the eyeball. Muscles, nerves, and blood vessels act upon the eyes.
What is making up of the eye?
Conjunctiva: is the mucous membrane that covers the area under the eyelids and is reflected from there to encompass the anterior part of the eyeball right up to the margin of the cornea.
The eye has 3 layers. These are:
- Sclera and cornea. Sclera, a firm, fibrous membrane, helps maintain the shape of the eyeball. The Cornea is circular and transparent.
- Choroid, ciliary body and iris. The pigmentary and vascular layer of the eyeballs is called the choroid. The choroid is connected by the ciliary body to the iris. The iris is thin and circular and suspended behind the corner in the aqueous humour.
- Retina: The retina forms the inner parts of the eye ball. It is a very thin and delicate membrane. Images of external objects are received first on the surface of the retina. The yellow spot is a small part of the retina that lies directly opposite to the cornea. The blind spot is the point where the optic nerve emerges from the retina.
Behind the iris lie the lens. A supersensory ligament holds the lens in place. The eyeball is divided into 2 chambers (aqueous and vitreous) and these chambers are filled with fluid known as the aqueous and vitreous humour, which help maintain the form of the eyeball.
Working of the eye
The working of the eye resembles that of a photographic camera. The human eye has good power of accommodation. It beautifully adjusts itself to see objects at distant places and vice versa. Rods and cones are the cells responsible for our vision. Vitamin A is necessary for proper eyesight.
The eye has protective covering in form of eyelids, and lachrymal apparatus. The eyelids are moveable and make the cornea clean. Lachrymal glands are responsible for nutrition of the eye.
Some common diseases of the eyes and their Ayurvedic perspective are outlined below:
Timira or Linga-nasha (Cataract)
Cause: According to Ayurvedic concept, cataract is caused by aggravated vata humour. Cataract means opacity of the lens. With passage of age, degenerative changes appear in the lens resulting in cataract. Cataract can be congenital or acquired. Cataract can be induced by drugs like steroids. Senile (old age) cataract is common above 50 years, but can be seem in early age groups also. Young adults may suffer from diabetic cataract but the incidence is rare today.
Signs and symptoms: There is gradual impairment of vision and an object appears multiple. During the initial stage the patient is able to see things clearly at night as compared to day.
Remedies: Once cataract has developed, surgery is the only treatment. However, Ayurveda recommends certain formulations which are helpful in delaying the maturity of cataract. Maha-triphala-ghrita is an oily preparation recommended by Ayurvedic physicians in early stage of cataract. One teaspoonful (5g) of the preparation, mixed with cup of warm milk is given twice a day. According to experts it should be taken after meals. Mahavasadi quatha, six teaspoonfuls (30 ml), thrice a day are recommended by Yog Ratnakar as a remedy for cataract. Muktadimahaanjana is rubbed externally as collyrium. Before application, it should be is mixed with water and then applied.
Pink eye or Abhishyanda (Conjunctivitis)
Cause: Conjunctivitis is exogenous when the causal factor enters into the eye form outer source. These may include virus or bacteria or and foreign particle. Endogenous causes include factors like infection or allergy or diseases like rheumatoid arthritis. Recurrent attacks are related to impaired immunity.
Signs and symptoms: Conjunctivitis starts in one eye and then spread to other eye. Initial signs include irritation in the eye and slight redness. Burning sensation is common and thick discharge may set in. Photophobia (fear of light) is common. In severe cases, discharge containing pus can be encountered. Acute purulent (pus containing) conjunctivitis is seen in sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea, but these types of cases are rarely met as effective cures are available.
Remedies: The disease requires attention right from the beginning. If not properly treated, it can lead to injury to the cornea. The eyes should be washed with fresh water. The patient should be isolated and avoid sunlight. Tribhuvana-kirti-rasa, one tablet, thrice a day, is effective in initial stages. Eyes should be washed with Tripahla-infusion. Finely powdered drug is kept in a vessel containing pure water for a night and water filtered next morning. This procedure is highly effective in curing redness associated with conjunctivitis.
Bed rest is very important for speedy recovery. Immune boosting drug Giloy-satva is given in a dose of one tablet twice a day. Amalaki or amla is excellent source of vitamin C. One teaspoonful (5 g) of the shade dried amla is highly effective in boosting immunity. It should be continued for at least fifteen days after conjunctivitis has settled.
Cause: Macular degeneration is common in old age. It is the main factor causing irreversible blindness in the old aged people. Macular degeneration may be limited to one or both of the eyes. The main cause of loss of vision is decrease in function of rods and cones (these cells are responsible for vision) with passage of age.
Signs and symptoms: The main complaint of macular degeneration is loss of central vision but the patient never becomes completely blind. The initial complaint is blurred vision; straight objects appear to be bent. Although exact of cause of macular degeneration is not known, but free radicals are blamed to the responsible for the incidence of the disease.
Remedies: No satisfactory cure exists for macular degeneration. Medicinal herbs having anti oxidant activity are indicated in the treatment of the disease. Zandu or marigold has antioxidant activity. 5-10 ml of the juice of fresh petals, once a day is recommended for internal use. It should be continued for six months. Fresh leafy vegetables like spinach and carrots should be consumed.
Stye or Anjana-namika (External hordeolum)
Cause: It is basically the inflammation of the follicle of the eyelash. It is very common in young adults butt can strike at any age. It is commonly found in diseases caused by lack of immunity like diabetes. In young children, consuming chocolates and sweets in excess the disease is common. Sometimes recurrent attacks are found.
Signs and symptoms: The eyelid becomes red, swollen, and painful on touch. Finally white colored pus point appears. If proper medication is not taken, discharge can set in. The course of the disease is limited. When the pus point bursts, pain and inflammation automatically subsides.
Remedies: Complete bed rest should be ensured. Rasaunt (extract of daruhaldi) one tablet, thrice a day is highly effective in tackling the infection. In severe cases, double the dose can be given. The doses should be prepared by an expert Ayurvedic physician. Lavanga or clove is applied as paste on the stye. Eye should be washed with water prepared from Shoba-anjana several times a day. It is useful in treating inflammation.
For preventing recurrent attacks of stye, Chandraodya-varti is used. The preparation is available in the form of scales in the market. For application first the varti is mixed with honey. It may irritate the eyes initially but once continuous application is done it has rapid healing effect.
Ayurvedic medicine does not specialise in the field of eye but can be helpful in the initial stages of eye disease or may have an impact on the outcome of the disease. As an example carotenoids found in many Ayurvedic herbs have been found to be useful in macular degeneration. Surgery has made tremendous progress as far as diagnosis and treatment of eye disease is concerned. If eye problem is encountered, professional consultation should be sought.