To quote Heraclitus, “The eyes are more exact witnesses than the ears”. While this may not be entirely true, there’s no denying the importance of your vision. Unfortunately, as is the case is with all other organs in your body, your eyes are also prone to various conditions that can cause deterioration of eyesight or complete vision loss. To those of us blessed with good or even poor vision, the thought of complete vision loss can seem intimidating or horrifying. This is why eye exercises and herbs to improve eyesight have become so popular in recent years.
Deterioration of eye health and vision loss can be influenced by a variety of factors that are hard to pinpoint, with most experts recommending balanced nutrition and avoidance of behaviors that put your eyes at risk. While there is some evidence to show that specific nutrients and behaviors can strengthen or improve eyesight, more research is needed to show significant benefits. But however small these benefits may be, considering the importance of vision, any edge is welcome!
The Best Herbs to Improve Eyesight
Ayurvedic medicine has been used for millennia to treat and prevent conditions that affect the eyes, with one of the earliest surgical procedures for cataract being described by the Indian physician Sushruta, over 2000 years ago! Of course, Ayurveda is dominated by less invasive and completely natural treatments that include the use of herbs. This wealth of information on herbs for eyesight is what is most useful to us. Some of the most popular Ayurvedic herbal eye care solutions include the following.
Also known as the ‘three fruits,’ Triphala is a potent Ayurvedic tonic that consists of three traditional fruits that have long been use to treat various health conditions. These fruits include Amla or Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), and Bibhitaki (Terminalia belerica). Each ingredient possesses strong medicinal properties and the formulation has a balancing effect on all three doshas. It is most widely used to lower toxicity levels in the body and support general health. Although triphala is usually ingested, to address eye health concerns, it may also be used as a topical application or in eye drops.
The therapeutic benefits of triphala are not just emphasized in Ayurveda. In fact, researchers have found that the administration of triphala eye drops could help reduce minor problems like inflammation, redness, and eye strain. Additionally, triphala is a rich source of vitamin C and antioxidants that can protect against eye damage associated with oxidative stress. Based on findings like these it would appear that triphala could be one of the best supplements to improve vision.
You can get your daily dose of this beneficial solution by consuming triphala powder, tea, capsules, or extract.
2. Ginkgo Biloba
Indigenous to China and only later introduced to Ayurveda, Gingko Biloba is today used in folk remedies across the world. The herb is most often used to support mental health as a brain tonic and to improve blood circulation in the body. As a natural antioxidant, the herb is regarded as protective of eye health and is often recommended to strengthen or protect vision.
Because of its wide use in natural medicine, the herb has been the subject of numerous studies. While its antioxidant properties may offer some protection against ocular damage induced by oxidative stress, studies have also been suggestive of other benefits to vision. A study conducted in Korea revealed that ginkgo extract helped test subjects with glaucoma improve their vision. More recent studies also support the use of ginkgo as an adjuvant therapy in dealing with normal or high tension glaucoma. What makes ginkgo one of the best herbs for glaucoma are its neuroprotective and vascular regulating effects.
3. Fennel Seeds & Almonds
Fennel seeds and almonds are popular ingredients in various Ayurvedic remedies and they are regarded as beneficial for eyesight too. While there is plenty of evidence regarding their therapeutic benefits and most nutritionists agree that nutrients in almonds do promote healthy vision, there is inadequate research to support claims that fennel seeds and almonds can improve eyesight. Nevertheless, this remedy has been used for centuries and poses no known risk, so if you’d like to try it out, go right ahead. Here’s how you do it:
- Grind an equal amount of fennel seeds, almonds, and Mishri (rock sugar) thoroughly.
- Store the mixture in an airtight container or jar.
- Mix two teaspoons or 10 grams of the powder in a cup of warm milk and drink this solution once per day, preferably before going to sleep or in the morning on an empty stomach.
Continue with the treatment for at least one month to better the chances of improving your vision.
4. Rose Water
Rose water is widely used in India for ceremonial purposes and also for therapeutic purposes. Rosa damascena, is in fact a fairly common ingredient in numerous Ayurvedic remedies, as well as in Unnani medicine. Rose water is believed to posses antiseptic and antibacterial properties and because of its cooling and soothing nature is often used as an eye rinse or to relieve other eye problems.
Rose flowers & bottled rose water
Although research on rose water for eye health is limited, a study that appeared in the journal Ophthalmology and Eye Diseases found that a solution containing rose water demonstrated both anti-inflammatory and antihistaminic effects. This would make rose water one of the best natural eye wash solutions to combat minor irritation, inflammation, and reddening of the eyes.
Making Your Own Herbal Eyewash
Home made herbal eye washes are a great alternative to pharmaceutical products when you’re looking for a quick fix and can’t make it to a medical store or if you’re dealing with minor eye irritation. Here’s how you can make your own natural eye wash.
As mentioned before, triphala does miracles for your eyes not only when consumed, but also when applied topically.
- Mix half a teaspoon of fine, organic triphala powder in a cup of boiling water. Make sure you use distilled water over tap water.
- Allow the solution to cool, then strain it with a clean cloth to remove any visible particles.
- Dip a small towel in the eyewash and place it over your eyes as you lie down.
- Blink frequently to allow the solution to enter your eyes.
You may experience mild stinging when you do this the first few times. According to practitioners however, the stinging effect will disappear shortly after initial application.
Soak your eyes for around 5 minutes then pat dry the surrounding area. For best results avoid straining your eyes after this, whether by working at your computer or staring at your phone screen. This is why the eye wash is best used just before bed time.
Rose Water Eyewash
We’ve already established the efficacy of rose water as an Ayurvedic eye cleanse to deal with minor eye problems like irritation, soreness, or inflammation. Rose water can be used as is, as a soothing eye rinse, but you can also create your own rose water eye drops by mixing one teaspoon of organic honey with three tablespoons of organic rose water in a dropper bottle. Make sure you only use organic rose water that contains no added ingredients or chemicals, as these could cause further irritation.
Apply the eye drops as needed up to two times a day.
In our world, full of visual information, the eyes are arguably among the most overworked of our senses — constantly bombarded with information. Rising levels of pollutants and airborne toxins add to the problem, exposing them to even greater risk, making a regular eye care routine something of a necessity. While these herbs for vision will help to offset some of the risk, remember that balanced nutrition and a healthy lifestyle are perhaps even more important to maintaining the health of your eyes. In case you suffer from any eye problem that is persistent or unresponsive to home remedies, make an appointment with an ophthalmologist at the earliest.
- Gangamma, M. P., Poonam, & Rajagopala, M. (2010). A clinical study on “Computer vision syndrome” and its management with Triphala eye drops and Saptamrita Lauha. Ayu, 31(2), 236–239. http://doi.org/10.4103/0974-8520.72407
- Shim S.H., Kim J.M., Choi C.Y., Kim C.Y., Park K.H. (2012). Ginkgo biloba extract and bilberry anthocyanins improve visual function in patients with normal tension glaucoma. Journal of medicinal food. Sep;15(9):818-23. doi: 10.1089/jmf.2012.2241
- Chu W, Cheung SCM, Lau RAW, et al. Bilberry (Vaccinium myrtillus L.) In: Benzie IFF, Wachtel-Galor S, editors. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition. Boca Raton (FL): CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Chapter 4. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92770/