UCL Institute of Ophthalmology


IoO students run Eating for Eye Health focus group

18 September 2015

Eating for Eye Health focus group…

IoO postgraduate students, Rosie Gilbert, Rita Pinho, Garima Sharma and Chrishne Sivapathasuntharam won a beacon a Beacon bursary to run the event from the NIHR Moorfields Biomedical Research Centre to run an "Eating for Eye Health" focus group at a local restaurant for Moorfields patients and their relatives.

Dr Rosie Gilbert started by welcoming the participants and introducing the "Eating for Eye Health" Project. This introduction was followed by short interactive talks from Mr Zubin Saihan, Consultant Ophthalmologist in Cataract Surgery and Medical Retina on "AMD and the AREDS Trials" and Dr Melanie Dani, Specialist Registrar in Care of the Elderly Medicine and PhD Research Student on "Preventing neuro-inflammation and cognitive decline with lifestyle and dietary modifications".

Rita Pinho, Garima Sharma and Chrishne Sivapathasuntharam facilitated the discussions and were also able to talk about of their involvement with research into clinical eye disease. 

Participants enjoyed a selection of delicious, healthy food from Pod including falafel, tomato and Lebanese red pepper wraps, salmon cream cheese and wasabi sandwiches, a vegetable dipping platter, "slow burner" salad with lentils and Turkish cheese, blackcurrant superfood pots, bee pollen bircher yoghurts and handmade superfruit booster bars! During the food tasting, there were interesting discussions on awareness of how diet and nutrition influence health, how to tailor diet to optimise general health and how to prepare food to optimise absorption of nutrients. Participants shared stories of how their eye problems have impacted their lifestyle and their thoughts on the changing trends in diet and nutrition and what they perceived as barriers to changing their lifestyles.

The morning was concluded with a short questionnaire on dietary habits and a positive evaluation of the event by the participants, who were all keen to participate further in the project. The responses from this questionnaire will feed into the later stages of the project.

The project organisers would like to thank Pod, UCL Public Engagement Unit and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and NIHR Moorfields BRC for their help and support in organising the focus group and to thank the wonderful and enthusiastic participants for coming along and for their valuable contributions. - The presentation slides from the focus group can be downloaded here. This includes recipes for butternut squash soup and kale pesto!