Dietary Supplements and the Ophthalmologist

Stephen G. Schwartz, MD; Pamela S. Chavis, MD


Compr Ophthalmol Update. 2005;6(3):153-159. 

In This Article

Prevalence of Dietary Supplement Usage

Dietary supplements are commonly used by ophthalmology patients, both to treat specific eye conditions and to treat nonocular disease. Five percent of glaucoma patients use supplements to lower intraocular pressure (IOP).[4] Up to 42% of patients with uveitis use dietary supplements, prayer, and/or acupuncture specifically for their eye condition.[5]

Patients undergoing elective ambulatory surgical procedures commonly use dietary supplements. The prevalence rate is reported at approximately one-third, but this is probably underestimated,[6] as up to 70% of patients withhold this information from their physicians. The layperson may not think of supplements as "medications," may lack awareness of potential risks, and may fear lack of support from physicians.

An additional concern, also related to the less stringent oversight of dietary supplements, is mislabeling of the product. Overdoses, underdoses, and contamination with Western prescription-style pharmaceutical products are unfortunately not uncommon.[7]


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