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Cataract: Symptoms, Medicine, Diet and Lifestyle

Cataract: Symptoms, Medicine, Diet and Lifestyle

In the developing countries, the incidence of cataract in people is 40%. No accepted medical treatment is available for cataract, surgery is the only available treatment till date. The surgical treatment of cataract imposes a great economic burden on the society. Therefore, the whole world is looking at the alternative and complementary systems of medicine to tackle this situation and looking upon the preventive ophthalmology for improving and maintaining vision. Now a days, cataract management is gaining importance.

Cataract is commonly seen in elderly. With age related cataracts, the power of lens may increase, causing myopia. The lens of the eye consists mainly of water and proteins. The protein is arranged in such a way which keeps the lens clean and allows light to pass through it to focus a clear image on the surface of the retina.

Over the time, cataracts may become cloudy or denser more than the lens, making it harder to see. When the lens of the eye loses its transparency, there is blockage in the vision. This condition is known as cataract.

What are the symptoms of Cataract?

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Sudden changes in prescription glasses/spects
  • Glare or reflection issues during the day
  • Facing problems while driving at night, such as glare from approaching headlights.
  • Seeing colours differently

Ayurveda since its origin, is serving the mankind throughout in health and disease state of life. Shalakyatantra is one of the specialized branches of Ayurveda that deals with the science of Opthalolomology, Otorhinoryngology, Orodental surgery and head.

Cataract according to Ayurveda:

Linga naasha is a technical term mentioned in Ayurvedic literature, which means loss of vision. There are two varieties of linga naasha described in Ayurvedic texts i.e. reversible and irreversible.

The symptoms of Kaphaj Linga naasha have been described in Ayurveda. These are:

  • Complete obstruction of vision; patient can only perceive bright light or object.
  • Pupil constricts in sun and dilates in shade or dark (+ve pupillary reaction).
  • Pupillary circle appears to be smooth, thick and white in colour like a white drop of water moving on lotus leaf.
  • The pupillary circle is mobile or changes its shape on ocular massage. 

These clinical features of kaphaja linga naasha invading the fourth patala (lens) exactly stimulates the picture of mature or hypermature senile cortical cataract, the white and soft cataract.

The exogenous variety of Linga naasha such as Sannimitaja and Annimitaja types are classified according to known and idiopathic (unknown) causes. In both these conditions the pupillary circle remains clear.

Also Read: Psoriasis Types, Causes, Treatment in Ayurveda

Some Ayurvedic medicines for the management of Cataract are:

  1.  Mahatriphaladi Ghrita: Since cataract occurs by natural ageing process. Therefore, taking Rasayanas (rejuvenators) are helpful in increasing immunity of a person and also helps in keeping the person away from diseases.
  • These influence the fundamental aspect of the body such as Dhatu, Agni, Ojas etc.
  • Mahatriphaladi Ghrita helps in preventing, delaying and reversal of senile cataract.
  • It is a combination of Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) and Vibheetaki (Terminalia bellirica).
  • These herbs have adaptogenic, anti-cataract, immune-modulatory, free radical scavenger and rejuvenation properties.
  • Triphala strengthens the nerves and tissues of the eyeball while ghee balances the exacerbated Vaata in the body.
  1. Daruharidra (Berberis aristata): Daruharidra is anti-diabetic, anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory in nature especially in ocular infections.
  • It is also adaptogenic, immunomodulatory and anti-cataract in nature.
  1. Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum): Tulsi has adaptogenic, anti-oxidant, immunomodulatory, anti-cataract, anti-diabetic, hypocholesterolemic and rejuvenating properties.
  • It acts as a free radical scavenger and has advanced glycation end products inhibitor properties.
  1. Triphala Powder: Take ½-1 teaspoon of Triphala powder and add water to it.
  • Cover this solution and keep aside overnight.
  • Filter the solution in seven folded clean muslin cloth and bathe the eyes with this in the morning. 

In addition to the above drugs or medicines, local administration of medicines is also done as the administration of oral drug alone is not sufficient to reverse the biochemical changes and to deliver sufficient quantity of drug to ocular tissues. Hence, a combination of oral and local administration drugs is necessary. Both systemic and topical administration of drugs is required for better management of senile cataract. 

Ayurvedic treatment such as Chakshushya Aahara Vihaara, early diagnosis and proper management can prevent, arrest or delay the senile cataract.

Diet and Lifestyle:

  1. The diet should be enriched with Vitamin E, which includes sunflower seeds, spinach and almonds. 
  2. Food rich in Vitamin C and omega 3 fatty acids also reduces the risk of cataract.
  3. Include fresh cow butter, apples, pomegranate, oranges etc. in the diet. 
  4. Be consistent with your eye check-up.
  5. Keep diabetes under control.
  6. Stop smoking
  7. Avoid direct contact with chemicals, X-rays etc.
  8. Limit the use of computer, mobile phones etc.

Thus, in Ayurvedic classical texts the administration of potent rejuvenator formulations come under Rasayana Chikitsa which frees one off the diseases, improves the quality of life and delays senile degenerative changes and have Chakshushya  properties that are beneficial for the eyes.

In Ayurveda, indications of cataract surgery have also been described. These are:

  1. Well-developed Kaphaj linga naasha i.e. fully mature or hypermature cortical cataract.
  2. When cataract appears like that of coagulated milk i.e. calcified cataract.
  3. When pupillary circle appears like whirlpool, hyper-reactive or reddish-white in colour.
  4. When pupil is irregular, with tears, charred coloured and painful in nature i.e. cataract with uveitis and posterior synechiae.
  5. When pupillary area reflects off-white colour and its shape is like that of moon; i.e. cataract with retinal detachment.
  6. When the pupillary area is multicoloured like that of mushroom i.e. posterior segment pathologies in modern science.

Contra-indications of Cataract Surgery:

When the pupillary appearance has the following characteristics:

  • Half-moon shaped pupil-posterior subluxated lens.
  • Pearl shaped shrunk lens
  • Hard cataract
  • Irregular shaped
  • Having streaks calcified
  • Multi-coloured
  • Blood or abnormal material in the pupillary area
  • Immature cataract
  • Painful eye

Thus, a detailed and critical account related to cataract and its surgery has been given in Ayurveda literature and Kaphaj lingnaasha seems to be the proper word to be used for cataract in modern medical science.

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