Ayurvedic Treatment For Diabetic Retinopathy

Systematic ayurvedic treatment for diabetic retinopathy has three benefits. It prevents the onset, preserves the existing vision and regains lost vision. The stage when a patient starts treatment is very crucial. Outcome of treatment depends on it. Earlier the treatment, better the results.

The first doubt most diabetic patients have is - will I get retinopathy ? The answer to this question is not simple. It will vary from person to person. According to ayurveda, factors contributing to development of diabetic retinopathy are:
  • Chronicity of diabetes
  • Severity of diabetes
  • Hereditary factors
  • Body constitution – Dosha prakrithi
  • Environmental and occupational factors
  • Stress and strain
  • Dietary and other habitual factors.
First stage of diabetic retinopathy starts as a complication of diabetes mellitus. It has no warning signs before onset. Proactive diabetic patients undergo regular eye checkups. Even if they have no vision problems. This helps to identify symptoms even before start of  vision loss. At Matha, we have identified the initial symptoms of retinopathy from our past treatment experience. Mild headache and eye strain while reading is main among them. Strain while working on computer and watching T.V come next. Fullness, heaviness of head and eye, particularly in early morning are also warning signs. Hypersensitivity to bright light and watering of the eyes are also typical symptoms. Getting opportunity to start treatment at this early stage is really valuable. It helps prevent the disease altogether. Matha follows clinically proven ayurvedic treatments for diabetic retinopathy in this stage. According to ayurvedic science, this is the initial stage of kapha predominance. It is also known as Nethrabhyshyandha. The line of treatment is sira-sodhanam. Treatments like Nasyam, Gandoosham, kabalam, etc. are more preferable than ophthalmic applications.

Diabetic retinopathy progresses to second stage if patients are unable to control it in the first stage. Extend of this progress depends on the various contributing factors. They were described before. From our experience, there are typical symptoms at this stage also. They are blurring of vision and metamorphopsia. Burning sensation in the eye and photo phobia are also seen. Primary pathological change seen in this stage is dilation of vessels. Other changes such as congestion of retinal vessels and blockages in microvascular system of retina are also seen. Retinal edema, hemorrhages, exudates and neovascular changes are also common. Treatments starting in the third stage will have to concentrate on two distinct aspects. Firstly to preserve and protect existing vision. Secondly to regain lost vision. According to ayurveda, pitta is the predominant dosha in this stage. Pittasamana must be the line of treatment. Treatments done are Sirodhara, netrasekam, vitalakam aschotanam, and thalam. Strict dietary restrictions are also needed. Medication and diet control are not enough in this stage. Other precautions and care are also needed. For e.g., habitual factors like headbath, sleep, journey and oil application are to be organized. Only an experienced ayurvedic ophthalmologist can do it correctly. Systematic treatment at this stage avoids further vision loss and complications. Matha has successful treatments to protect the vision of affected patients.

In the third stage, patients experience severe problems. Macular hole, retinal detachment, and other degenerative changes are main among them. The disease has now turned to a complication. This happens when retinopathy is not properly treated in second stage. Continuation of etiological factors is another important reason for proceeding to third stage. Now, a strict line of treatment is not possible. Ayurvedic treatment for diabetic retinopathy varies according to complication. For e.g., for the complications of detachment, treatment is on a vata predominant approach. For neo-vascularisation, pitta is considered more. For fluid accumilation, kapha is taken seriously. Systematic and high level ayurvedic treatments tailor made for each specific complication is needed at this point. The expected results will confirmed after a detailed assessment of the patient.

It is clear that preventive approach is the best option in ayurveda for treating diabetic retinopathy. With each passing stage, the hurdles in treatment keep on increasing.