Your eyes are what you eat, too - consuming foods rich in omega-3, such as tuna, may reduce risk by 68 percent
More than eight million people in the United States, predominantly women, suffer from dry eye syndrome, a painful and debilitating eye disease. In the first study of its kind to examine modifiable risk factors, researchers from Brigham and Womens Hospital (BWH) and Schepens Eye Research Institute (SERI) found that the amount, type and ratio of essential fatty acids in the diet may play a key role in dry eye prevention in women. The study is published in the October 2005 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
According to lead author Biljana Miljanovic, MD, of the Divisions of Preventive Medicine and Aging at BWH, "Dry eye syndrome impacts quality of life, productivity and safety for millions of people. Unfortunately, there is little advice clinicians can offer about its prevention. Our study set out to examine how changing dietary habits in America, primarily a shift in the balance of essential fatty acids we are consuming, may be associated with onset of this eye disease. We found that a high intake of omega 3 fatty acids, often referred to as a good fat, commonly found in fish and walnuts, is associated with a protective effect. Conversely, a higher ratio of omega 6, a fat found in many cooking and salad oils and animal meats, compared to omega 3 in the diet, may increase the risk of dry eye syndrome."
"We are accustomed to the mantra you are what you eat and our study suggests that this also applies to a persons vision," said Debra Schaumberg, ScD, OD, MPH, the senior author of the study, clinical associate scientist at SERI, and associate epidemiologist at BWH. "Based on this report, preventing dry eye syndrome is another potential reason to follow a diet rich in tuna and other foods plentiful in omega 3 fatty acids."
These findings are based on surveys completed by more than 37,000 women enrolled in the landmark, BWH-based Womens Health Study. Survey questions were designed to elicit information about an individuals history of diagnosed dry eye syndrome and dietary habits.
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