Keep your eyes healthy and bright

Our eyes are hard workers, often contorted throughout the day as we express myriad emotions and exposed to environmental stressors such as pollution, UV light, artificial lights and computers. Their wellbeing depends predominantly on hereditary and lifestyle factors and their expression is often a reflection of how we feel emotionally.

While eye creams moisturise the delicate skin around the eyes and help keep wrinkles at bay, working on your physical and emotional wellbeing is the only way to achieve truly beautiful, clear, bright eyes — something no amount of expensive cosmetics or makeup can replicate.

From a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, a stagnant, congested liver can cause feelings of anger and repressed emotion, resulting in dull, lacklustre eyes. So it’s important to keep your liver healthy and its energy flowing. Detoxifying the liver helps to open the heart, create joy and physically clear red, blurred and inflamed eyes.

Detoxification diets are best practised under the supervision and guidance of a naturopath or other qualified Health practitioner who’ll assess your individual needs. Detoxifying foods include beetroot, vegies with bitter leaves such as endive, dandelion, and chicory, lemon and foods rich in sulphur including garlic, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.

Visual acuity including focus, pigment production, protection from UV rays, muscle strength and eye lubrication are enhanced by a diet rich in antioxidants found in fruits, vegetables and herbs. Free radical damage is the major contributing factor in the development of eye disorders, redness and inflammation. Eye-enhancing and protective antioxidants include vitamins A, C, E and B complex; zinc; alphalipoic acid; selenium bioflavonoids found in most foods containing vitamin C, red and purple fruits including bilberry and plums and grapeseed extract and buckwheat; essential fatty acids including both omega-3 and omega-6; and carotenoids found in brightly coloured vegetables and egg yolk, especially lutein and zeaxanthin. Other supplements that are known eye helpers include ginkgo biloba, chromium, magnesium and amino acids, especially glutathione and N-acetyl cysteine.

Allergies can also cause itchiness and redness around the eyes. It’s best to talk to a naturopath or allergist, who can create a customised diet for you. Taking probiotic supplements daily and eating fermented foods such as kefir can help heal the gut and relieve allergies.

Engaging in relaxing and grounding practices such as yoga, meditation or tai chi regularly will help soften the appearance of your eyes that may have become hardened by the stresses of modern life. Releasing anger by talking to a counsellor or therapist or having acupuncture can also be very helpful to reduce tension.

Engaging in regular moderate exercise is also very important as it helps rid the body of toxins and brings emotional clarity. Throughout the day, give your hard-working eyes a break by forcing them to focus on something other than your computer screen. Rest them for five minutes every hour. Remember to blink when staring at a computer screen, to help lubricate the eyes. Check lighting and reduce glare on your computer to prevent squinting and strain.

Topically, boiled and cooled teabags placed over closed eyes work well to relax the eyes and soothe inflammation, especially chamomile, fennel, parsley, red clover, rosehip and green tea. Witch hazel-soaked cotton wool pads help reduce inflammation and tone the area, as does buttermilk. Frozen teabags and soaked cotton pads placed on the eyes are very helpful when the eyes are particularly puffy. A pack of grated cucumber also relieves inflamed, swollen eyes, as does a poultice of apple.

Dark circles under the eyes are often hereditary, but can also be a sign of kidney deficiency, exacerbated by poor diet, sun exposure, and lack of sleep. A poultice of grated potato placed over closed eyes is renowned for helping reduce the shadows. Avocado is rich in vitamin K, which studies show maybe helpful for reducing puffiness and dark circles. Mash some avocado into some sweet almond oil and gently massage around the eyes.

Eyebright, a herb traditionally used for healing the eyes, boasts antibiotic, anti-inflammatory and astringent properties that help tighten the membranes and mucus surrounding the eyes, improving and strengthening circulation. Once cooled, use the tea or the diluted tincture as an eye bath.

The skin around the eyes is very delicate and requires extra moisture as it boasts fewer oil glands than the rest of the face. It’s important to use lighter oils and creams around the eyes to prevent sagging. Avoid formulations that contain harsh synthetic chemicals and alcohol that can irritate and dry out the skin.

The following recipe is moisturising, regenerative and nourishing, and will help prevent wrinkles, dehydration and dryness. It’s rich in lutein, essential fatty acids, vitamin A and jojoba oil, an effective humectant helpful for locking in moisture within the skin’s layers. Use day and night. Use your middle finger to gently pat a few drops around the orbital bone. Enjoy!

Rosehip, carrot seed & avocado eye oil

5 drops carrot seed essential oil
10ml unrefined avocado oil
10ml rosehip oil
30ml jojoba oil
5ml vitamin E oil (tocopherol)
Mix oils together and store in an amber bottle. It will last for up to three months.

The WellBeing Team

The WellBeing Team

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