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Eyes (general health)

General characteristics

General characteristics

The eyes are the organs of physical sight and work like miraculous cameras to capture our surrounding environment and present us with unending images of it.
The eyes themselves are made up of proteins, jelly like fluids, specialised light sensitive retinal cells, muscle layers, fibrous and elastic tissues, blood capillaries and nerve cells.
Many problems can arise within the structure and functioning of the eye including inflammations, infections, blood flow disruption, nerve supply interruption, foreign bodies (such as eyelashes), ulceration, retinal detachment, floaters and visual disturbances, light sensitivities, allergic responses, cataract formation, migraines, visual abnormalities and loss of vision. The eyes can also be adversely affected by other disease processes such as diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disorders, stroke and bells palsy; by natural cycles such as the menopause; through malnutrition or very poor diet; through prolonged use of computer monitors or reading; as a side effect of chemotherapy and other medications to name but a few.
If you have a specific eye problem, such as conjunctivitis or cataracts for example, then go to the relevant page for treatment ideas. The following pages contain information on maintaining general health of the eyes and not specific conditions.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

A diet rich in foods containing anti-oxidants (especially the carotenoids) is universally excepted as being important for healthy eyes. Anti-oxidants are present in abundance in foods such as fresh fruit and vegetables (especially the orange, yellow, dark green and red varieties) and also in free range eggs and dairy produce.

Use culinary herbs such as dill, cumin, coriander, parsley, oregano, turmeric and the like liberally in cooking and salads for their vitamin and mineral content.

Foods rich in zinc are also thought to offer protection from age related macular degeneration. See 'minerals' in the 'natural healing' section for ideas on foods rich in zinc.

Selenium is known to protect the eyes against the effects of ageing and cataract formation. Wholegrains, fish and shellfish, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds are all rich in selenium.

Wild salmon and other oily fish are rich in omega fatty acids which help protect and maintain the health of blood vessels within the eyes.

Avoid smoking.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Herbs that strengthen and encourage better eye health include eyebright, bilberries, fennel seed, marigold, plantain leaf,  ground ivy, elderflowers, turmeric and barberry (for inflammation), raspberry leaf, vervain, chickweed, cayenne can be made into teas and used as a compress or wash to the eyes when they are feeling tired or strained. Choose one or more of the dried herbs and use a teaspoonful (except for the chilli, use a pinch of powder to an eggcup full of water) to half a cup of boiling water, allow to cool before soaking a clean pad in the tea and placing over the eyes and relaxing.

Herbs that stimulate the liver ('bitters' such as dandelion root, milk thistle, wormwood, gentian) can be taken internally, in small doses (a few drops of each in water) after meals to improve eye health. Dandelions milky sap (from picked stems) is an old remedy for eye complaints.

Goji or wolf berries are good for the eyes and can improve the effects of diabetes and age related changes.

Ginkgo, yarrow and hawthorn berries can improve circulation to the eyes and help in cases of eye damage due to circulatory problems and diabetes. Take a teaspoon of the tincture mix (equal parts) 3 times daily.

Natural healing

Natural healing

Be mindful that wearing poor quality sunglasses can damage the eyes. Too much sunlight can be allowed to enter the eye as the shading causes the pupil to relax and open wider, leading to damage in the retina. Wear a wide brimmed hat instead or choose sunglasses that offer at least 98% UV protection.
Eye exercises can help to strengthen your vision and the health of the eyes generally. Here is a link to a page containing some useful exercises.
The Tibetan eye chart was created to strengthen the eye muscles and improve vision and all round eye health. You could print out the chart so you don't have to look at the computer screen to do the exercises.

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