Ayurveda Tharpanam or Netra Chikitsa is a cleaning process for the eyes, which gives them a cooling effect, prevents eye diseases and strengthens the optic nerves, retention of medicines over the eyes for up to 30 minutes or more a day as treatment for eye problems such as strain to the eyes, irritation etc. Tharpanam is done when the conditions of vatha and/or pitha predominance.
Tharpanam is done by retention of medicated fats – ghee is used the most often – on the orbits. Orbits are the two bony sockets on face which accommodate the eye balls. So a leak-proof retention-rim is made around the orbits. Battered flour from black gram (uzhunnu in Malayalam) is used for this purpose. Then medicated ghee, warmed to liquify, is poured into this rim. It is retained there for a prescribed period of time and then drained out.
The ghee (or other medicated fat) is prescribed after proper evaluation of the type and status of the disease. During retention, the patient is prompted to keep the eyes open to the maximum time possible. Once the ghee is drained after the prescribed time, the rim is removed and the skin is mopped to clean with a wet cloth. Mild fomentation of the lids is advised in specific cases.
Degenerative eye diseases and long-standing inflammations are the target of tharpanam. They include Progressive Myopia, corneal diseases like Keratoconus and dystrophies, Macular Degeneration, Retinitis Pigmentosa, optic nerve atrophy, Lazy Eye, dry eye syndrome, Uveitis, and Glaucoma. Tharpanam is selectively done in certain situations of Diabetic Retinopathy with remarkable clinical improvement.