Ayurvedic treatment for Diabetes and Eye

Diabetes and Eye

Know More on Ophthalmology/ Eye diseases

  • Definition
  • Causes
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis
  • Management
  • FAQS
  • References

Definition

Diabetes and Eye Ayurvedic treatment

It is a well-known fact that having diabetes increases the chances of having eye problems and these can lead to blindness. Yet, most people with diabetes can take care of any eye problems if they start the treatment early and do not ignore it.1

Eye diseases that have an increased incidence and chances of complications due to diabetes are diabetic retinopathy, diabetic macular edema (DME), cataract, and glaucoma. Each of these conditions can potentially lead to vision loss and blindness.2

As per Ayurveda, the ‘eye’ has a very special reference in term of the quote “Sarvendriyanam Nayanam Pradhanam” i.e. the eyes hold a special status amongst all sense organs.3

Diseases of the eye are caused by a predominance of Kapha dosha – that is significantly involved in the pathogenesis of diabetes as well. Vitiation of kapha dosha leads to vision problems that can be co-related with glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy.4

Causes

Diabetes and Eye

Dabetic retinopathy

This is the most common eye problem in people with diabetes. High blood sugar damages the tiny blood vessels in the retina causing blurry vision or blindness.5,6

Cataract

People with diabetes are at 2-5 times increased risk of cataract compared to others. People with diabetes also get cataracts at a younger age. In cataract, high blood sugar causes clouding of the eye’s lenses, causing vision problems.5,6

Glaucoma

People with diabetes are at twice the risk of glaucoma compared to others. High blood sugar affects the eye’s nerve that connects eye to the brain. This gradually damages your retina causing loss of vision.5,6

According to Ayurveda, impaired metabolism causes imbalance of vata, pitta and kapha dosha causing eye complications from diabetes.7 As such, diabetes is caused due to different diet or ahara practices, along with lifestyle or vihara habits including:8,9

  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Excessive sleep
  • Excessive intake of sweet, sugary, salty, difficult to digest and cold foods, and raw grains
  • Regular consumption of seafood and meat
  • Regular consumption of beer, sugarcane juice and milk products

Symptoms

Diabetes and Eye

In the early stages, eye disease may not show and symptoms. Generally diabetes may be out of control for a long time. Eye diseases often progresses subtly until they start affecting the vision. 1

Some early signs can be as follows1,10

  • There could be some dark patches causing blind spots in one or both eyes
  • In advanced stages, peripheral vision (side vision) may be lost resulting in tunnel vision
  • Blurring of vision
  • Circles seen around artificial lights (Halo effect )

Diagnosis

Diabetes and Eye

To diagnose eye diseases arising from diabetes, eye care specialists usually perform the following tests11:

  • Visual acuity: Distance and near vision tests to see how much a person can see.
  • Front portions of the eyes are examined using a special microscope to check for cataracts and other abnormalities
  • Tonometry: It is used to measure the pressure inside the eyes. If there is more pressure, it may indicate glaucoma.
  • Retina examination: Using eye drops, the eye pupils are dilated and retina is examined.
  • Optical tomography: It is a medical imaging test that produces high resolution images of the eye. It is used to examine the retina and other eye parts.

Management

Diabetes and Eye

Eye problems arising from diabetes can be well controlled by ayurvedic treatment as it focusses on not only reversing the symptoms but also strengthening the metabolism so that future complications can be avoided. In this way, Ayurveda controls the disease by improving blood circulation and nourishing the eye. Eye problems are treated with a variety of ayurvedic techniques including12:

  • Lepa or ointment over eyes.
  • Netradhara: Pouring of herbal medicine in a thin flowing stream through the inner corners of the eyes.
  • Takradhara: Pouring of buttermilk in a thin flowing stream on the eyes.
  • Akshi Tharpanam: Hollow wells of black gram paste are gently sculpted around the eyes and medicated oil is poured in these wells.
  • Shirodhara: Gently pouring a medicated oil over the forehead.
  • Shirolepa: Application of a medicated paste (made up of herbs and medicinal powders) on the forehead.

The following ahar (or diet) and vihar (or lifestyle) are recommended for all kinds of eye diseases

Diet Recommendations (Aahar)

  • Recommended foods that should be included in the diet every day such as ghee, milk, rock salt, honey, patola (snake gourd), red rice, green gram, wheat, triphala (3 fruits), carrots and leafy vegetables13
  • Avoid foods such as sour foods, dry meat, all alcohols, select sea fishes, curd, tobacco, excessive hot and fatty foods 13

Lifestyle changes (Vihar)

  • Walk regularly
  • Wear headgear such as caps and hats, and eyegear such as sunglasses to protect from UV radiations
  • Properly clean the eye everyday
  • Make sure you get good sleep regularly
  • Make it a habit to wake up early
  • Applying oils on feet and heat with some massage may be beneficial.

FAQS

Diabetes and Eye
  1. How does Glaucoma develop?

The primary cause of developing Glaucoma is having an increased pressure inside the eye. This leads to damage of the optic nerve – that affects the vision. The increase of pressure is due to the accumulation of the fluid of the eye called as Aqueous humor. This accumulation is either because the fluid is not being drained or it is being overproduces. The reasons for these to happen are not fully understood but probable causes are genetic.1

  1. I am diagnosed with dry AMD. Are there any recommendations of herbs/foods that are beneficial in this case?

As per Ayurveda, herbs like Triphala [3 fruits of haritaki (chebulic myrobalan), bibhitaki (Beleric myrobalan) and amalki (gooseberry), Tulsi (Basil), Spirulina, Punarnava (Hogweed/Boerrhavia diffusa), Shatavari (Asparagus) having anti-oxidant and vitamin properties. These along with carotene containing foods (such as carrots) are beneficial in dry AMD.

  1. What is Myopia? How does one get it?

Myopia is refractive error. It means that due to the elongation of the eyeball, the rays of light coming from distant object do not come directly on the retina but falls in front of it. This is because the cornea or lens is not curved smoothly, causing improper refraction of light rays.

It is very common and generally develops slowly. It is found across age groups – from children to adults. It also tends to run in families.

  1. What is astigmatism, how is it caused?

Astigmatism is refractive error. Due to unknown causes, if the curvature of cornea or lens is disturbed, the rays of light coming from an object would not come directly on the retina but falls either in front or beyond it. This leads to a blurring of vision and in Astigmatism this blurring can happen either horizontally, vertically or diagonally.

  1. What are the causes of a red eye?

Conjunctivitis or red eye is caused due to a swelling of the conjunctiva (The membrane covering the eyeball). This is often due to an infection of the membrane. The causes of the infection are either a virus or bacteria. Sometimes, conjunctivitis may also occur due to a reaction or splash of chemical irritant inside the eye.

  1. What is cataract? How does one know if he/she has cataract?
    Cataract refers to the cloudy appearance of the lens of the eye which causes a clouded vision. Due to the clouding of the vision, a person suffering from cataract finds it very difficult to see properly, read anything or even drive a car.

There may be no signs and symptoms at an early stage but as the condition progresses, the following signs and symptoms are observed1 -

  • Clouding of vision, blurring of images
  • High sensitivity to direct light or glare
  • Difficulty seeing at night or in dim light
  • Observing ‘halo’ effect around lights
  • Rapid changes in the focal numbers of eyeglasses/contact lens
  • Double vision
  1. What should I do for dry eyes?

For those suffering from dry eyes, avoidance of factors such as long hours on TV/Computer along with adequate body hydration are recommended. Regular blinking and few eye exercises as mentioned should be followed.

  • Blinking exercise: Blinking of eyes for a particular period at frequent intervals
  • Palming: Rubbing the palms of hands and placing them gently over the eye lids.
  • Eye rotation: Rotation of the eye ball in all directions at frequent intervals.
  1. I have double vision. What could be the cause and how can it be evaluated?

A complete medical history and a detailed eye examination are required to diagnose the exact cause for diplopia. Additional tests may be required to find any underlying nervous or mechanical cause, which are -

  • Retinoscopy – to test for the appearance of the lens, retina and images
  • Slit lamp examination - to test for certain structures inside the eye
  • A Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) or Computed Tomography (CT) scan may be needed, to detect abnormalities of the eye socket (orbit), skull and brain.
  1. How does one develop allergy in the eye?

An allergic reaction starts when a person’s immune system mistakes an otherwise harmless substance for a dangerous attacker. The cells in the eye produce antibodies to an allergen on first contact. When a similar contact with the substance happens again, the same antibodies signal the immune system to release chemicals - called histamine - into the bloodstream, causing a reaction that leads to the signs and symptoms.

Common allergy triggers for the eye, include many allergens existing in air, or certain types of foods and different venoms through insect stings - such as bee stings or wasp stings or certain medications.

  1. What kind of infection can commonly occur in the eye?

Eye infections are known to cause swelling and irritations in the eye, and are caused either by a bacteria, fungus or virus. The common eye infections seen are Conjunctivitis or red eye and Stye. Conjunctivitis causes a swelling of the conjunctiva (the membrane covering the eyeball) and stye is an infection in the eyelids. This is often due to an infection of the membrane. While this condition does not affect the vision, it causes a lot of irritation in the eye and discomfort.

References

Diabetes and Eye
  1. American Diabetes Association. Eye complications. Available at http://www.diabetes.org/living-with-diabetes/complications/eye-complications/ accessed Sept 11th 2016
  2. National Eye Institute (NEI). Facts About Diabetic Eye Disease. Available at https://nei.nih.gov/health/diabetic/retinopathy accessed Sept 11th 2016
  3. Kumar AD. Ayurvedic Ocular Therapeutics. IAMJ. May - June 2014; Vol. 2(3): 400-404
  4. Savarkar G et al. Critical study of Diabetic retinopathy w.r.t Sharira. Int J Res Ayur Pharm. Sept-Oct 2-14; 5(5): 619-621
  5. Facts about diabetic eye disease. National Eye Institute. 2015
  6. Eye complications. American Diabetes Association. 2013
  7. Syam et al. Ayurvedic adaptation to diabetic retinopathy. WJPMR, 2016, 2(2), 26-29
  8. Ayurvedic approach to some selected diseases. Central Council for Research in Ayurveda and Siddha Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy. Ministry of Health and Family Welfare. 2009.
  9. Tirtha SS. The Ayurveda Encyclopaedia: Natural secrets to healing, prevention and longetivity. 2005;USA:Ayurveda Holistic Center Press
  10. Mayo Clinic. Glaucoma. Available at http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/glaucoma/basics/definition/con-20024042 accessed Sept 7th 2016
  11. Diabetic eye disease. Emedicinehealth. 2016
  12. Sharma et al. A review on diabetic retinopathy and its management in ayurveda. UJAHM 2015, 03 (01): Page 1-3
  13. Prakash SC et al. Ayurvedic Opthalmology an Approach through Holistic Diet and Regimen. IJMPNP. 2015; Vol. 1(2): 31-34

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