Clinical Nutrition Manager at The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary, Aphrodite Dikeakos, MS, RD, talks about diet and uveitis.
As you may already know, Uveitis is an inflammation of the eye which may cause redness, pain and light sensitivity. While the exact cause is yet unknown, Uveitis has been linked to autoimmune disorders such as Behcet’s disease and sarcoidosis, inflammatory disorders like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, infections such as cat-scratch disease, herpes and toxoplasmosis, eye injury, and certain types of cancer.
Although alternative remedies alone should not be used to treat Uveitis, nutritional intervention can be beneficial. It should be noted, however, that there is no specific diet for Uveitis and improvement is usually noted when the underlying condition is treated.
In quite a few instances, it has been noted that a gluten-free diet alleviated uveitis symptoms in those patients with celiac disease. Additionally, in a case study involving hyperurecemia, following the appropriate diet improved the patient’s eye condition.
Research with the antioxidant Lutein has found that is has anti-inflammatory properties and thus may alleviate inflammation of the eye to some degree. It is probably more potent if taken as a supplement but Lutein can be found in many fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, kale, corn, orange pepper, kiwi, grapes, orange juice, zucchini and squash. This nutrient is best absorbed when accompanied by a fatty meal.
There have been several animal studies using rats to study the effect of diet on the outcome of uveitis. One noted that a calorie-restricted diet suppressed the development of autoimmune Uveitis, while another found that rats supplemented with vitamin E had less intraocular inflammation.
Studies are constantly being conducted to examine the effects of various nutrients on the outcome of Uveitis, however Uveitis is a very individual disease and you should work closely with your health tem to find the treatment that is right for you.