The strain on our eyes in the environment today must be very harmful to our eyesight in the long run.

Constant eyestrain while driving, gazing at computer screens, watching too much television and the effect of fumes and pollution must affect our eyesight, and may cause impaired eyesight or disease of the eye like glaucoma and redness and puffiness of the eyes.

The ancient Ayurvedic surgeon Sushruta described eye diseases and operations as well as natural ways of preventing and treating diseases of the eyes. Ancient Indian mythology relates the story of King Janak, the ruler of Videha, who started a sacrificial ritual involving the slaughter of animals.

Lord Vishnu, the protector of the universe, was enraged by this and destroyed the eyes of King Janak. King Janak had to undergo a strict penance for repentance to please the sun god, who restored his eyesight.

The moral of the story is if we inflict harm on others our vision will be destroyed, both our eyesight and our wider vision of life. Also a control over our lifestyle and activities restores good eyesight.

The Indian Vedas describe the sun as arisen from the eyes of the creator, an analogy which is appropriate as the sun gives us light with which we can see! So respect the sun.

Avoid excessive exposure to sunlight or the direct effect of the bright sun on the eyes.

Some interesting causes of eye disease which we can prevent are described in Ayurveda:

*Do not immerse yourself in water immediately after exposure to heat, for example on a sunny beach.

*Avoid persistent gazing at distant objects (very tempting on the beach!)

*Reversal of sleeping habits and resisting sleep at night leads to stress on the eyes causing pain, puffiness and burning sensation.

*Excessive anger causes a disturbance in the fire energy (pitta dosha) of the body, increased body temperature and blood supply to the eyes, which can make them bloodshot and painful, and can raise the pressure in the eyes, as in glaucoma.

*Excessive grief and psychological stress affects the nerves of the brain causing weakness of the optic nerve and visual cortex.

*Excessive indulgence in sexual activities depletes the body of Ojas, the essence of vitality, and weakens one's eyesight and other senses.

More about natural treatment of eyes next week.