The science and mythology of Ayurveda hold the eyes in high esteem. In ancient Indian lore, a fetus's eyes were thought to be formed when light particles from the sun and moon passed through the eyes of the expectant mother, traveled along the nervous system, and entered the womb, says Vasant Lad, founder of the Ayurvedic Institute in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The eyes, he says, are ruled by the sun: "They are bright, brilliant, and full of luster."
Because of this connection with the sun, the eyes are thought to be fiery in nature and therefore more easily irritated by the hot days of summer. Luckily, Ayurveda offers many ways to douse the flames. In Ayurvedic theory, there are three doshas, or energies, that influence our bodies and minds. Pitta is associated with fire, and people in whom pitta is typically dominant tend to be motivated and focused; those with lots of vata (linked with air and wind) are often lively; those in whom kapha (ruled by earth and water) is strongest are thought to be stable and compassionate.
No matter what your dominant dosha, you can refresh your eyes by splashing them gently with cool water, blinking seven times (once for each chakra, or energy center in the body), and rotating them in all directions. If they burn or are bloodshot or light sensitive, an excess of pitta may be to blame. To counter it, lie down for 15 minutes with milk-soaked cotton balls on your closed lids. Cucumber slices will also do the trick.