Lalitha was worried. Her nine year old son, Pranav, who used be a class topper, was now making silly mistakes in copying questions from the blackboard, and as a result, dropping behind in his studies. When he started complaining of headaches too, her mother suggested she get Pranav’s eyes tested. The ophthalmologist confirmed that Pranav was from suffering from short sight or myopia, and prescribed spectacles for him. Though his vision improved with spectacles, Pranav was very unhappy about wearing them- so Lalitha decided to try Ayurveda to treat her son’s myopia. She consulted a famous Ayurvedic physician from Kerala, a state in South India, where Ayurveda in its purest form has flourished for almost 5000 years. Her physician told her that Shalakya Chiktsa, one of the eight branches of Ayurveda, dealt exclusively with diseases of eye, ear, nose, throat and organs situated above the clavicle. It contains a detailed description of different types of eye problems including myopia which is caused by errors of refraction in the eye. Even though Pranav’s vision had improved with the use of spectacles, the physican explained that in one type of myopia, the blurring of vision continues to increase in adult life. This is called “Progressive myopia” and the patient goes on changing his lens for one with a higher power. In Ayurveda this condition in known as ‘drishti dosha’. The physican also explained that the most common causes of myopia, especially in children, are improper reading habits and lack of vitamins in the body- though sometimes it can be hereditary also. According to Ayurveda, people who suffer from chronic cold and constipation are more prone to myopia. Nervous system disorders are also another cause.
Even before starting treatment for myopia, Pranav was treated for the root causes of his problem- chronic colds and constipation. Triphala is a herbal remedy commonly used by Ayurvedic physicians for the treatment of constipation and also to provide nutrients for the eyes. Another herbal remedy prescribed for myopia is Yashti Madhu, a blend of the roots of the plant by this name. It is to be taken mixed with pure cow’s ghee and honey. Ayurvedic eyewash was also prescribed for Pranav. In the case of adults, an Ayurvedic regimen consisting of internal and local treatment is given for 2 to 6 months. The physician explained that Ayurvedic treatment includes balancing the body energies in addition to therapies that clear eye blockages, nourish and strengthen the optical nerves and tissues to enhance vision. Pranav was told to avoid any kind of food that is difficult to digest- especially fast foods, sour, spicy and oily foods. Lalitha was advised to give him well cooked, freshly made meals and cow’s ghee daily, for it improves eye power. Practicing yoga, especially Sinhasana is very useful for improving eyesight, so Lalitha started taking Pranav to yoga classes on weekends. In the mornings, he went on a walk with his father, for early morning walks, yogic breathing exercise and pranayama all help to keep the eyes healthy. Lalitha also made sure that Pranav studied and read in good light to avoid eye strain- and he was coaxed out of his habit of lying down while reading, and of watching TV continuously on holidays. Today, Lalitha is happy, for Pranav is doing well in his studies again…and Pranav is happy too, since he doesn’t have to wear spectacles anymore!