A Brief Guide About Diabetic Retinopathy And Its Ayurvedic Treatment

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Diabetic retinopathy is a progressive condition that can lead to vision loss and blindness since it involves retinal blood vessels associated with prolonged hyperglycemia and other conditions linked to diabetes mellitus, such as hypertension.

Diabetic retinopathy is an eye condition that can occur in those who have diabetes. It primarily affects the retina’s blood vessels (known to be the light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of the eye).

In case you have diabetes, getting a comprehensive dilated eye exam at least once a year is important. Diabetic retinopathy may not initially have obvious symptoms, but early diagnosis facilitates taking steps essential to protecting vision. You can get diabetic retinopathy treatment in Ayurveda also.

Managing blood sugar levels by staying physically active(practicing yoga, pranayama, exercise), eating a healthy, balanced, and nutritious diet, regular medicine intake, and monitoring blood sugar levels will help prevent or delay the process of vision loss.

Symptoms Of Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Floaters
  • Blurred vision
  • Poor night vision
  • Impaired color vision
  • Total loss of vision

Types Of Diabetic Retinopathy

  • Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy
  • Non-Proliferative Diabetic Retinopathy

Methods Of Treatment In Modern Medicine

Injection: Anti-VEGF drugs are known to slow down or reverse diabetic retinopathy. Corticosteroids may also help.

Laser treatment: A laser is used to reduce swelling present on the retina by shrinking the blood vessels, hence stopping leaking.

Surgery: Vitrectomy is suggested in case of excessive retinal bleeding or the presence of too many scars.

What Are The Symptoms Of Diabetic Retinopathy?

Patients do not usually experience symptoms during the early stage of diabetic retinopathy. Some may notice changes such as trouble reading or seeing faraway objects. These changes are not permanent and may keep appearing and disappearing.

In the later stages of the disease, blood vessels in the retina start to bleed into the vitreous chamber. In such cases, one may see floating spots/streaks that appear like webs. Sometimes, the spots may clear up on their own. Nevertheless, treatment is important. Without treatment, the bleeding may happen again, worsen or lead to permanent scarring.

What Are The Other Problems Caused Due To Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy can further lead to;

Diabetic macular edema (DME): 1 in 15 people with diabetes may develop DME over time. DME happens due to blood vessels leaking into the macula(a part of the retina responsible for sharp and central vision), leading to blurry vision.

  • Neovascular glaucoma. Diabetic retinopathy can lead to the growth of abnormal blood vessels out of the retina that blocks fluid drainage of the eye. This causes glaucoma.
  • Retinal detachment. Diabetic retinopathy can cause the formation of scars on the back of the eye. When these scars pull the retina away from its normal position is called tractional retinal detachment.

What Causes Diabetic Retinopathy?

Diabetic retinopathy is caused by high blood sugar in diabetic patients. Elevated levels of blood sugar can damage the retina over a longer period.

Diabetes is known to damage all the blood vessels of the body. The damage to the eyes begins when sugar in blood starts blocking the retina’s tiny blood vessels, causing them to leak fluid or bleed.

Diabetic Retinopathy In Ayurveda

Diabetes(Prameha) is one of the eight major diseases mentioned in Charaka Samhita.

According to diabetic retinopathy treatment in Ayurveda, Diabetic retinopathy is caused by vitiated Tridosha(Vata, Pitta, Kapha), 7 dhatus (Constitutional tissues). Vitiated pitta & rakta are majorly involved doshas that localize in the eye and produce effects such as bleeding and venous beading.

Pitta Prakriti people are more prone to the condition than those suffering from stress, anger, and ingestion of pitta Kapha-dominant foods. These are known to damage blood vessels and affect permeability. In later stages, neovascularization develops.

Vyanavayu is known to control the function of blood circulation in the body. Its obstruction may lead to vascular diseases. It can cause retinal ischemia, retinopathic changes like neovascularisation, intra-retinal microvascular abnormalities (IRMA), and cotton wool spots. Ayurveda relates diabetes with agnimandya and decreased levels of Ojas in the body. The two main principles of Ayurvedic treatment are the disease’s prevention and cure.

Preventing Diabetic Retinopathy With Ayurveda Involves The Following Steps:
  1. Maintaining normal blood sugar levels by eating a healthy diet following one Prakriti and season and regularly taking diabetes medications.
  2. Maintaining normal blood pressure by regular practice of exercise, walking, yogasanas, and pranayam.
  3. Avoid smoking, tobacco, and alcohol.
  4. Regularly visiting the ophthalmologist and getting check-ups done.
  5. Regular eyewash using Triphala water.
Curing Diabetic Retinopathy With Ayurveda Involves The Following Steps:
  1. Treating diabetes and controlling blood sugar levels remains the foremost step in treating diabetic retinopathy.
  2. It improves blood circulation to the eye.
  3. Use Diana and pachana drugs to improve Agni(digestive fire) and digestion of ama(accumulated toxins) present in the body.
  4. Use of laxative drugs(mriduvirechan) for purification of impurities from channels of the body.
  5. Tarpana therapy; allows permeation of drugs deep through the intraocular tissues and cornea that helps improve vision.
  6. Anjanam and aschyotana therapies
  7. Takra Dhara therapy
  8. Netra Dhara therapy: these therapies help reduce stress, relax the eyes, and heal at the tissue level.
  9. Use of Rasayana drugs for rejuvenation of deep tissues.

People undergoing diabetic retinopathy treatment in Ayurveda experience the benefit of stabilized vision and minor improvement in vision without the involvement of invasive treatment methods such as surgery, laser, etc.

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