Photo credit: Mohammed Muhit

Medical Tourism is really big in India for many reasons. For Americans, cost is a huge factor as health care in America is ridiculously expensive. For people from many other countries, long waits for surgery is often the main consideration. India has many world-class facilities and doctors who can provide care quickly and at a more affordable cost.

But one really special thing India has to offer is Ayurveda. While there are some excellent Ayurvedic doctors and clinics elsewhere around the world, specialty treatment is often only available in India.

This is a personal quest as I was diagnosed with cataracts in both eyes last year. Fortunately, I caught them really early—I had only been experiencing a little blurriness in my vision for a week or two when I went to get my eyes checked. The doctor I saw didn’t do the most thorough exam, but it was enough to know I had to do something soon. Waiting to see if the condition might improve on its own is always a bad idea when it comes to the eyes. I’m really glad I followed my intuition.

Surgery Is Not the Only Remedy for Cataracts

That same doctor told me that “everyone” gets cataracts when they get older, which is not true. Well, maybe that’s pretty much the case in the mountains where he lives, because of the increased UV exposure; but in general, no. Not even close. He also said that I would eventually have to have surgery. He and many other people told me that surgery is so easy and routine and that I would be able to see perfectly.

Not so fast! I just didn’t buy that it was so certain, and when I started asking around and doing online research, I found that while it is great for maybe 90% of people who have cataract surgery, the other 10% or so have problems. I really don’t like those odds. That is a huge risk for something as important as the eyes. As long as there are non-surgical alternatives, and they are working for me, there is no reason to consider surgery.

Ayurvedic Alternatives to Surgery

Sreedhareeyam Eye Hospital in Kerala

I immediately started looking into Ayurvedic treatments, which are always my first resort for any medical issue. Several friends recommended the Sreedhareeyam Ayurvedic Eye Hospital and Research Centre in Kerala. It’s a modern hospital up to the best international standards, and the rural setting is delightful. They also have clinics in other cities, including Delhi, Mumbai and Jaipur. There is also one in Dubai.

So I headed down to their hospital in Kerala and got an extremely thorough exam and a consultation with Dr Narayanan Namboothiri. At the time, staying for treatment in residence wasn’t possible, but I came away with a treatment program that I could use at home. I have eye drops for the cataracts and also for computer-related eye strain as well as some tablets to take internally. Dr. Narayan said that since I caught it so early, I would at least be able to keep them from getting worse. He also mentioned that if I had waited until the cataracts were mature, there would have been no way to avoid surgery. Here’s a testimonial from a Canadian who had really dramatic results with Ayurvedic treatments at Sreedhareeyam after trying many other things.

What Has Been My Experience?

My cataracts are slowly dissolving. I still experience a little blurriness sometimes, but it’s definitely less that when I started. Yes!!!!

At this point it seems likely that I will be able to completely reverse the cataracts. I expect that I’ll need to keep using the eye drops etc for the rest of my life, but that doesn’t bother me in the least. It’s certainly better than a risky surgery. I’m looking forward to doing the in-residence treatment.

Takeaway: Start Protecting Your Eyes Now

Prevention is always better than cure, so take the time to learn what you can do to lower the risk. In my case, I think the cataracts were brought on by two things aside from aging: not wearing proper sunglasses while living at high altitudes, and excessive computer use. While I might have gotten cataracts eventually even in the absence of those two factors, they might have developed much later. Age is a factor, but that’s not exactly preventable, so focus on that which you can do something about. Other risk factors include smoking, poor diet, corticosteroid medications, and diabetes.


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