Public health campaigns have tried long and hard to encourage people to eat well. Some eye care authorities advocate that optometrists are well placed to influence patients in terms of eating well in order to maintain long term eye health.
Research is equivocal but some findings suggest that people who eat more green leaves and vegetables have more protective antioxidants in the macula than those who don’t. Also, those that take certain types of food supplements with antioxidants have less progression in some forms of age-related macular degeneration than those that don’t.
Some antioxidant preparations increase levels of natural antioxidants and blue light filters in the macula and are purported to therefore reduce the chance of age-related macular degeneration. Other findings suggest that those who consume more omega 3 essential fatty acid in natural or food supplement forms have fewer signs and symptoms of dry eye syndrome than those who consume less. This can often help keep people in their contact lenses by making them feel more comfortable.
Encouraging people to eat well in order to see well is tough. It’s similar to discouraging people from smoking. We struggle to stop people smoking even though the packaging is covered in pictures of the awful likely outcomes.
The research is clear, widely available in lay terms and has been for decades. People still choose to carry on smoking and people still choose to take up smoking.
The pain, discomfort and general debilitation associated with dry eye syndrome (often leading to difficulties with using contact lenses) gives a greater chance of success with this condition. The experience of pain and discomfort can be used as a motivator for dietary change; a change to include more omega 3.
Asking people to eat better or to take certain food supplements in order to possibly prevent an eye condition which may or may not occur in 40 to 50 years’ time is a tall order.
Offering this advice is going to be tough and much of it will fall on stony ground. But it’s worth trying.