Dietary fat intake linked to dry eye syndrome in women

October 19, 2005

Boston, MA - 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 Women's 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."

Dry eye syndrome is characterized by a decline in the quality or quantity of tears that normally bathe the eye to keep it moist and functioning well. The condition causes symptoms such as pain, irritation, dryness, and/or a sandy or gritty sensation. If untreated, severe dry eye syndrome can eventually lead to scarring or ulceration of the cornea, and loss of vision. Victims can experience symptoms so constant and severe that reading, driving, working and participating in other vision-related activities of daily life are difficult or impossible.

In this study, the researchers report the following specific findings:"We are accustomed to the mantra 'you are what you eat' and our study suggests that this also applies to a person's 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 Women's Health Study. Survey questions were designed to elicit information about an individual's history of diagnosed dry eye syndrome and dietary habits.
-end-
BWH is a 755-bed nonprofit teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School and a founding member of Partners HealthCare System, an integrated health care delivery network. Internationally recognized as a leading academic health care institution, BWH is committed to excellence in patient care, medical research, and the training and education of health care professionals. The hospital's preeminence in all aspects of clinical care is coupled with its strength in medical research. A leading recipient of research grants from the National Institutes of Health, BWH conducts internationally acclaimed clinical, basic and epidemiological studies. www.brighamandwomens.org

Schepens Eye Research Institute is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School and is the largest independent eye research institute in the world.

Schepens Eye Research Institute

Related Diet Articles from Brightsurf:

What's for dinner? Dolphin diet study
More evidence has emerged to support stricter coastal management, this time focusing on pollution and overfishing in the picturesque tourist waters off Auckland in New Zealand.

Can your diet help protect the environment?
If Americans adhere to global dietary recommendations designed to reduce the impact of food production and consumption, environmental degradation could be reduced by up to 38%, according to a new paper published in the journal Environmental Justice.

Diet may help preserve cognitive function
According to a recent analysis of data from two major eye disease studies, adherence to the Mediterranean diet - high in vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil -- correlates with higher cognitive function.

Diet quality of young people in US
This observational study used national survey data from young people up to age 19 to estimate the overall diet quality of children and teens in the United States and to explore how diet quality has changed from 1999 to 2016.

The keto diet can lead to flu-like symptoms during the first few weeks on the diet
A ketogenic diet can lead to several flu-like symptoms within the first few weeks on the diet.

Reconstructing the diet of fossil vertebrates
Paleodietary studies of the fossil record are impeded by a lack of reliable and unequivocal tracers.

Your gums reveal your diet
Sweet soft drinks and lots of sugar increase the risk of both dental cavities and inflammation of the gums -- known as periodontal diseases -- and if this is the case, then healthy eating habits should be prioritized even more.

Poor diet can lead to blindness
An extreme case of 'fussy' or 'picky' eating caused a young patient's blindness, according to a new case report published today [2 Sep 2019] in Annals of Internal Medicine.

New research on diet and supplements during pregnancy and beyond
The foods and nutrients a woman consumes while pregnant have important health implications for her and her baby.

Special issue: Diet and Health
Diet has major effects on human health. In this special issue of Science, 'Diet and Health,' four Reviews explore the connections between what we eat and our well-being, as well as the continuing controversies in this space.

Read More: Diet News and Diet Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.