By Roohi Saluja December 2004 Cataract can lead to blindness if left untreated. here are your best options of cure from allopathy, ayurveda and homoeopathy Common symptoms • Gradual deterioration of vision • Objects may appear yellow, hazy or distorted • Reduced vision at night, or when there is less light • Halos may be visible around bright lights at night • Initially, double or multiple vision • Frequent changes in power of the eyesPossible complications of cataract surgery • Increased pressure or severe bleeding in the eyes • Eye infection • Artificial lens may be damaged or dislocated in the eye • Drooping eyelid • Detachment of retina • Blindness • Loss of one eyePrecautions after surgery Follow these precautions for at least two weeks till the eyes heal: • Avoid rubbing the eyes • Cover the eyes with an eye pad if you are a restless sleeper • Avoid physical stress and exercises • Protect your eyes from direct wind • Avoid soap or shampoo from entering your eyes • Avoid eye make-up for at least six weeks • Do not drive till the doctor gives a green signal • Check the power of your glasses four to eight weeks after the eye surgery AllopathyThe eye is like a camera. If the lens in a camera has scratches, the pictures will be blurred. Similarly, when the lens in the eyes become cloudy, you will either see blurred images or nothing at all. Such a condition is called cataract—where there is opacity or clouding of the eye’s natural lens, which if not treated can lead to blindness. Usually white in colour, cataract can also be yellow or brown in colour. In the absence of any medical cure, surgery remains the mainstay of cataract treatment. Causes of cataract • Senile cataract: Most people above fifty develop some degree of cataract. While the type of cataract and the position of opacities vary from person to person, the most common site for a cataract is in the main body of the lens followed by opacity in the centre of the lens. • Complicated cataract: This may follow owing to a long-term detachment of the retina, glaucoma, tumours inside the eye and inflammation of the eyes. • Inborn defects: About 14 per cent of childhood blindness is due to hereditary defects. Rubella (viral infection), syphilis (sexually transmitted disease during pregnancy), and abnormalities of the endocrine glands can cause cataract in newborns. Babies, less than one year with enzyme-deficiency, may suffer from milk intolerance that can develop cataract. However, about 35-50 per cent infants who develop cataract before their first birthday may not have any associated illnesses—cataract can develop if the newly formed lens fibres are opaque. Most often, these opacities do not even interfere with the vision. • Injuries: Any injury to the eye, irrespective of whether it penetrates the lens or not, can cause cataract. A non-penetrating injury may cause cataract several months or years after the injury. • Diseases: Young people with diabetes, decreased calcium levels, poor nutrition, and heavy drinkers are prone to cataract. Cataract is often associated with skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis that is likely to run down generations. Over-exposure to X-rays during the first three months of pregnancy increases the risk of inborn cataract. Besides, chemical substances like zinc chloride, steroids and prolonged intake of medicines for nausea and psychiatric disorders can cause cataract. Symptoms of cataract These depend upon the type and severity of the cataract. As the cataract progresses, vision becomes blurred and distorted. Ultimately, the cataract may become so dense that it blocks the light, causing blindness. (See box II)Treatment: Doctors recommend surgery in the eye that has a poor vision and avoid surgery in the other eye, until the first eye heals completely. In severe conditions such as glaucoma, immediate surgery is recommended. In case cataract develops, due to an injury in young children, it is important to undergo an immediate surgery before a squint or cross-eyes develop. Before the surgery, the doctor will take careful measurements of the eyes in order to select the correct size of the lens. He/she may be able to select a lens power to correct vision, thus reducing one’s dependence on eyeglasses altogether. The most common types of cataract surgery include intra-capsular cataract extraction, extra-capsular cataract extraction and phacoemulsification. AyurvedaSushruta, the famous ayurvedic physician, has described four layers of the eye, in addition to the two eyelids that form the walls. Abnormalities in the third layer of the eye, Timir rogas (loss of light perceptions), lead to vision defects. Once Timir roga results in a disease condition, it is called Kanch and if this Kanch leads to blindness, it is called Lingnash (cataract). As per ayurveda, changes in the predominance of doshas cause adverse impact on the lens. If these doshas affect the fourth layer, there is a loss of vision. Cataract can occur due to abnormalities of kapha, rakta, sannipataja and sansargaja. The colour in the cataract lens depends upon the type of abnormality. For instance, red colouration is due to abnormal vata, yellow due to abnormal pitta, and white due to abnormal kapha. Causes of cataract • Local causes include injury, inflammation, temperature variations, changes in the pressures inside the eye and decreased ability of the capsule covering the eye to allow fluids to enter and exit. • Systemic causes include old age, accumulation of toxins in the body, diabetes, vitamin deficiency, and irregularities in digestion and the endocrine glands. Treatment: Ayurveda recommends the following measures to prevent cataract due to old age: • Rasayanas are medicines that improve vitality and agility of the mind and body. Indian gooseberry and Indian Gall nut-based rasayanas are especially effective. • Take 10-12 gm of Maha Triphala Ghrit once or twice a day with milk. • Herbo-mineral preparations like 500 gm of Saptamrit Lauha is recommended twice a day with honey. • Medicated kajal prepared from herbs is recommended from childhood itself. Aqueous extracts of palas (bastard teak), lotus honey (at bedtime in both the eyes), rose water (twice or thrice a day), and some eye exercises improve eyesight. • Surgical removal and replacement of the lens is essential if there is irreversible damage to the lens. Also, reviewing the general health, habits, working condition, rest and recreation help. HomoeopathyHomoeopathy describes various types of cataract as congenital, degenerative, post-injury, and associated with diabetes, atopic dermatitis, etc. It seeks to slow down, and sometimes even halt, the deterioration of the eye. But in case the cataract is well advanced, surgery is necessary. Factors like family history, personal likes and dislikes, digestion habits are also considered while prescribing a medicine. Treatment • Medicines like Arnica, Conium, Symphytum, Ruta, etc. are effective in cases of a cataract due to an eye injury. • Phosphorus is effective for cataract in people who suffer from arthritis. • Causticum is advisable for cataract in young adults and post injury. • Sepia is recommended for women suffering from cataract and other disorders due to abnormal functioning of the uterus. • Silicea treats cataract cases owing to skin eruptions or foot sweat. • Kali Muris is advised when cataract is associated with white discharge from the eyes. • Mag Carb is suggested for cataract accompanied by inflammation and a blurred vision. • A commercial product called Cinereria Martima Euphrasia eye drops, manufactured by SBL, is known to decelerate cataract. Nature cureNature cure documents similar definition, signs and symptoms of cataract as allopathy. Causes of cataract Abnormal blood condition, poor nutrition in the lens, deposits of acids and salts between the lens fibres and increased pressure of acids on the lens fibres are the major causes of cataract. Besides, excessive intake of alcohol, sugar, smoking, diabetes, vitamin deficiencies, ageing, radiation, digestive disorders, and some medicinal side-effects are the contributing factors. Treatment • Eye packs: Dip a cloth piece in cold water. Apply it on the eyes for 20 minutes, twice a day. Alternatively, make a mud pack exactly the size to cover the eyes and soak it in a cloth. Apply on eyes. • Eye bath: Fill a basin with cold water. Immerse the head, and open and close the eyes alternatively in the water for 10-15 minutes. • Palming: Bend both the palms like shallow cups and place them on the eyes. Make sure that the fingers are crossed on the forehead and do not press the eyeball. • Eye exercises: Stretch the neck forward, backward and sideways and rotate the neck in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions for a few minutes everyday. Similarly rotate the shoulders. To exercise the eyeballs, gaze to the two sides of your eyes, down your nose, diagonally upwards and downwards and rotate them in clockwise and anti-clockwise directions. To strengthen your eye muscles, look at a distant object, and then immediately at a nearby object. • Diet: Have uncooked food like raw salad, carrots and greens, fruits, juices, sprouts and nuts for at least a few months to maintain a normal eyesight. Avoid white sugar and salt. Take 6 gm of aniseed everyday in the morning and evening, or 12 gm of a mixture prepared by mixing equal parts of aniseed and coriander powder, and brown sugar. Grind seven almonds with half gram of pepper in a little water. Strain the liquid, add honey, and drink. UnaniCataract results when there is accumulation of altered quality/quantity of the phlegmatic type of humour. In case of an injury or so
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