Sight loss and bad diet link highlighted

Fight for Sight is raising awareness of the need to consume a balanced diet, following the case reported earlier this month of a child who lost his sight due to consuming an unhealthy diet.

The survey, published to coincide with National Eye Health Week, found that many people were unaware that certain unhealthy habits had possible links to sight loss.

According to the YouGov poll conducted on behalf of Fight for Sight, only 30 per cent of adults surveyed knew that an unhealthily diet had a possible link to sight loss, and just 40 per cent knew the same about smoking. Almost a third (28 per cent) of survey respondents had their eyes examined less than the recommended once every two years, with nearly one in 10 never getting their eyes examined.

The charity is raising awareness of the need to consume a balanced diet, after research into the rare case of a child losing his sight through poor nutrition was published in Annals of Internal Medicine. The child’s diet, which resulted in serious vitamin deficiencies, led him to develop nutritional optic neuropathy (NON), causing irreversible blindness. This is more commonly seen in malnourished children in developing countries and purely dietary causes of this condition are rare in the western world.

Smoking is another habit the charity is warning can put eyesight at risk. It is linked to conditions such as age-related macular degeneration – the UK’s leading cause of sight loss – and cataracts. According to research, smokers double their risk of developing macular degeneration, for which there are limited treatments available.

Dr Rubina Ahmed, head of research at Fight for Sight, said: “The results from this poll sadly are not surprising. There are currently two million people living with sight loss in the UK, but it’s estimated that half of these cases are preventable through the right lifestyle and by accessing the right treatments. There needs to be more awareness of the need for regular eye tests, a balanced diet and of the links between smoking and sight loss.”

The charity is advising people to make sure they have a balanced diet that includes nutrients such as Omega 3 fatty acids, zinc and vitamins, B, C and E. Recommended foods for general good health include green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits and oily fish such as salmon.

Read more on this research and campaign here.