Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy is a malady pertaining to the eyes and it concerns the retina, which is also called the 'projection screen' in the eye on which light that traverses the eye lens is beamed. When an individual has diabetic retinopathy, the capillaries that supply nourishments to the retina of the patient either seep out blood or fluids.

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Such seepage causes insufficient blood circulation to the cells that are receptive to light and transmit visual signals to the optic nerve, which, in turn, transports these impulses/ signals to the brain. It may be noted that diabetic retinopathy is the most widespread reason for loss of eyesight in individuals having acute diabetes. Generally, diabetic retinopathy does not produce any symptoms till the patient begins to lose vision.

There are a number of risk factors for developing diabetic retinopathy and these may include the patient's age, the duration for which he/ she is having diabetes as well as the presence of glycosylated hemoglobin, a gluey protein, in the patient's blood. The presence of any growth factor akin to insulin, a hormone made in excessive amounts when one is having diabetes, is an added risk factor for developing this condition.

This hormone stimulates the development of the delicate capillaries, which break easily and cause fluid leakage, in the eye. The usual or standard treatment for diabetic retinopathy comprises laser surgery that closes up the trickling blood vessels.

Treatment of diabetic retinopathy with herbs or herbal products mostly helps to prevent the development of this condition. In fact, herbs providing bioflavonoids in abundance help to make the capillaries stronger and, at the same time, inhibit the progression or put off diabetic retinopathy even in conditions when the blood sugar levels of the patient are not controlled adequately. However, the most effective precautionary measure against diabetic retinopathy is controlling the blood sugar levels carefully and also having eye tests on a regular basis to detect the problem in its early stage.

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Supplements and herbs

There are number of herbs and supplements that are effective in preventing diabetic retinopathy and some of them are listed below. However, before you start taking any of these herbs or supplements, it is important that you consult your physician.

Bilberry tablets taken in dosage of 240 mg to 360 mg every day aid in putting off formation of blood clots in the vessels that supply nourishments to the retina. Similarly, chanca piedra tincture taken in dosage of one full dropper in half a cup (125 ml) of water two times every day discontinues the development of compounds that harm the retina.

You may also take tablets of the herb ginkgo in dosage of anything between 160 mg and 180 mg once every day, as they help in avoiding any damage to the retina cells whose function is to distinguish colors. You may also take hawthorn tablets in dosage of 100 mg to 250 mg thrice every day. Hawthorn tablets aid in fortifying the blood vessels that supply nutrients to the surface of the eyes. In addition, this herb also works to lessen the receptiveness of the blood vessels to emotional strain.

Intake of jambul seeds is also beneficial, as they not only bring down the level of blood sugar, but also slow down the inflammation in the blood vessels. Use these seeds in cooking every day in dosage of two teaspoon to one tablespoon (about 3 gm to 5 gm). Taking tablets containing extracts of grape seed or pine bark, which enclose oligomeric proanthocyanidin (OPC) in dosage of 200 mg every day also strengthens the capillaries in the retina and helps to prevent diabetic retinopathy.

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Antioxidants help in lessening the inflammation in the blood vessels. As mentioned earlier, grape seed extract encloses the procyanidins that make the capillaries in the retina stronger and also put off bleeding and formation of blood clots. At the same time, this herbal product supplies the retina with the essential nourishments, retards the aging of the eyes and augments vision during the night. In addition, grape seed extract also helps in preventing as well as treating diabetic retinopathy and arteriosclerosis in the eye.

Take quercetin tablets in dosage of 125 mg to 250 mg thrice every day between your meals. This supplement inhibits the development of growth factors like insulin and also puts off formation of blood clots. Take the tablet form of soy isoflavone concentrate in dosage of 3,000 mg once every day, as it also retards the development of insulin-like growth factor.

In addition, vitamin A as well as carotenoids are essential for maintaining healthy eyes and also to improve your vision during the night. Also consume spinach and get spinach extract or lutein, as they enclose carotenoid that is essential for the eye and retina tissue. It has also been found that at times the use of these substances helps to turn round several eye conditions.

Additional things you may do

Besides undergoing surgery, taking conventional medications and herbs as well as supplements, you may do a few more things to prevent as well as treat diabetic retinopathy. For instance, you should consume blueberries, blackberries, and cherries in the amount that is permitted in your diet. These fruits enclose proanthocyanidins, which are akin to those present in the herb hawthorn, and strengthen the minute blood vessels supplying nutrients to the retina.

In addition, you should also take glutamine in dosage of 1,000 milligrams every day. It has been found that glutamine has the aptitude to inhibit or put off any harm to the retina by means of thwarting any damage caused by the free radicals. Nevertheless, you should not take supplements containing glutamine in case you are suffering from liver cirrhosis or any problems related to the kidneys.

You should also keep away from glutamine supplements if you ever suffered from Reye's syndrome in the past. It may be noted here that uncooked parsley and spinach are among the excellent glutamine resources.

It is important to note that you should never miss any insulin shot in an attempt to lose weight. In fact, medical literature contains several accounts of people developing diabetic retinopathy when they either took insulin shots in lessened dose or totally skipped taking the injections with a view to control their weight. This is all the more true in adult women and teenagers.

In addition, you need to stay away from taking supplements containing vitamin C. It may be underlined that when you augment the dose of vitamin C, it results in the deterioration of diabetic retinopathy, particularly in individuals having diabetes, but do not take insulin shots.

Also ensure that you have your eyes examined at least once every year to check if you have developed diabetic retinopathy. While it is possible to stop vision loss or blindness by undergoing laser surgery, you should know that every laser weld results in an everlasting blind spot in the retina, even in cases where laser surgery is very successful. While at times it may become essential to undergo a laser surgery, it is always better to take precautions to prevent the development of this condition - prevention is definitely a better approach than cure.

It may be noted that tight control is a schedule where you maintain the fasting levels of blood sugar in the range of 125 to 135 milligrams for every decilitre (mg/dl), while the after meal or post-prandial blood sugar level is maintained at around 165 mg/dl. You may backup tight control by means of having your blood examined for HbA1C, or the proportion of the 'sticky' red blood cells (erythrocytes). Any reading of blood sugar levels less than 6.5 per cent substantiates tight control. Currently, physicians recommend this program for all people having diabetes, as it helps to lessen the chances of diabetic retinopathy by approximately 60 per cent.

It is worth mentioning here that tight control is just a part of a greater all-inclusive program called intensive therapy. Besides tight control, this method makes use of an arrangement comprising diet, work-outs and medicines to regulate high blood pressures. The findings of a study involving 166 diabetic patients revealed that intensive therapy lowered the occurrence of diabetic retinopathy by an added 55 per cent, as well as produced even considerably lesser incidences of damage to the nerve as well as kidney ailments.

However, tight control also has a downside and it is weight gain. In spite of the intake of a number of calories equal to that taken by individuals in a control group as well as consuming less amount of fat, it was found that people undergoing intensive therapy for about two years have gained an additional weight of about nine pounds (four kilograms) on average, compared to those in the control group. Nevertheless, it is possible to counterbalance this consequence of intensive therapy by using the herb wild angelica.

While acupuncture cannot replace other modes of treatment, including surgery, it has the ability to reinstate the regular blood circulation to the eyes and, at the same time, inhibit the development of diabetic retinopathy. In addition, acupuncture also has the aptitude to reduce the internal pressure of the eye attributable to glaucoma, a condition that may occur together with diabetic retinopathy.

Scientists at the National Eye Institute have induced a medical condition that bears a resemblance to diabetic retinopathy in dogs and, subsequently, treated these animals using a trial medicine known as sorbinil that works to repress the activities of an enzyme that transforms surplus blood sugar into alcohol, which is believed to damage the blood vessels supplying to the retina. The study conducted by these researchers used sorbinil successfully to obstruct the advancement of diabetic retinopathy.

The very thought that you may become blind can itself be terrifying and, in such cases, you will benefit by consulting a therapist. Your physician too will be able to help you by providing a referral. Alternately, you may also find that the company and support offered by any support group is useful for you. Hence, it is advisable that you talk to your physician regarding the support groups for individuals having diabetic retinopathy in your locality.

In case your vision has already been damaged to some extent, you should consult your physician regarding low vision products plus services, which are capable of making your daily life easier. For instance, you may opt for special lenses, magnifiers as well as video magnifiers.


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