Neethi Shathaka, an ancient classical text book on Ayurveda says ‘Sarvendriyanam nayanam pradhanam‘. In other words, Ayurveda considers the eye as the most important sense organ. This is because most of our daily activities are dependent on vision. The Ayurvedic therapy for maintaining perfect eye health is Netra Tarpana.
What does Netra Tarpana mean? Netra means eye, and tarpana means nourishment. The word Netra Tarpana means nourishment for the eye.
Benefits of Netra Tarpana
Netra Tarpana has both curative and preventative effects. It’s indicated in Vata predominant conditions, atrophies, degeneration and even in visual defects. During this process, warm medicated ghee is held in place over the eye for a period of 20-40 minutes.
Common medicated ghee is used for the process. The quantity of ghee to be used is such that it completely covers the eyelashes. Practically, the duration of retention of the Tarpana ghee is 20 – 40 minutes, starting with 20 minute and gradually increasing in duration.
Commonly used medicines for Tarpana
Jivanthiya ghrita, Triphala ghrita, Sathahwadi Tarpana ghrita, Kakolyadi gana ghrita and others are common medicated ghees used in this treatment.
Here’s a case study on Dry eyes and the effects of Tarpana on it.
Patient Background and Symptoms
A 62 year old woman came to me with recurring complaints of dry eyes, a gritty feeling in the eyes, sore, burning eyes at night, increased sensitivity to light and difficulty concentrating. She was enduring these symptoms for three years and had frequent eye check ups. She was using fresh tears eye drops which gave her temporary relief.
The factors to be taken into consideration were her age, prakruthi or Ayurvedic analysis, job profile, diet and lifestyle. She was working with computers and electronic gadgets throughout the day.
She was a Vata predominant person and her age was also a reason for Vata aggravation. She was continuously using a computer as part of her work which gave strain to her eyes.
Extended use of computers and other digital devices is one of the most common causes of eyestrain. The American Optometric Association calls this computer vision syndrome, or digital eyestrain. People who look at screens two or more hours in a row every day are at the greatest risk of this condition.
She had habits of staying awake at night and also indulged in foods which generally aggravate Vata.
As an initial step, I advised her simple lifestyle modifications that would significantly improve irritation from dry eyes. She was asked to take 8-10 glasses of water each day to keep hydrated and flush out impurities from the body. Also, she was asked to blink frequently, while reading or using electronic gadgets. She was advised to avoid rubbing of the eyes since this increases irritation.
I also advised her to follow certain simple eye exercises.
A wonderful source of energy, ‘sunning’ is performed in a seated posture with feet flat on the floor, hands on the knees and chin raised with closed eyes facing the sun. Sway the body from side to side for a period of 50 counts in three minutes.
2. Ball Exercises
Bouncing and tossing are ball exercises you can do to help the eyes. For the bouncing exercise, observe the bounce of a ball while throwing it to the ground. Move your sight along with the ball. Blink at the moment of catching the ball. For tossing exercise, toss the ball from one hand to another in a semicircular manner. Move the sight along the ball and blink while holding. This helps to strengthen the ocular muscles and improves central vision as well.
3. Water Splashes
Splash cold water on closed eyes and allow it to dry by itself.
4. Cold Cloth
Apply a cold cloth over the eyes while closing the eyes for sometime.
She was also advised to do Prathimarsha Nasya (two drops of Anuthaila in each nostril) everyday.
After following these recommendations for one week she came back with marked relief in pain and foreign body sensation.
The Netra Tarpana Process
Netra tarpana with Triphala ghee was performed for 5 days afterwards. The medicated ghee was liquefied by placing it in a hot water bath and then it was filtered. She was asked to close her eyes and the ghee was poured into her eyes at the medial canthus, up to the level of the tip of the lashes. The eyes were closed and then opened slowly. The ghee was retained for 20, then 25, 30, 35 and 40 minutes on each day respectively.
After the required time, a hole was made in the lateral side of the rim with a salaka or probe and the ghee was taken out. Once the ghee was removed, I wiped around the eyes with a cotton swab dipped in lukewarm water. A very mild fomentation with cotton dipped in hot water was done over the closed eyes. Dhumapana (inhalation of medicated smoke) was done afterwards. She was asked not to expose herself to bright light and luminous objects and to wear sunglasses on the days of the treatment.
One month later she had no sore, burning eyes. She had marked relief in eye sensitivity and also mentioned improved concentration.