March 26, 2003, LaGrange, IL-- An eye-catching 86 percent of optometrists in the United Kingdom said that they would take dietary supplements for eye health while the overwhelming majority (93 percent) said that nutrition was not included in their university education, according to a new survey published in the UK’s OPTICIAN journal.
The survey, sponsored by Cognis Nutrition & Health, supplier of XANGOLD® natural lutein esters, aimed to assess practitioners’ knowledge of nutritional issues and application of new learning issues to their everyday practice. Lutein esters are an effective source of lutein and are being studied for their potential benefits in the maintenance of eye health. Evidence continues to accumulate showing that intakes of the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration and cataracts.
Nearly all (98 percent) of the eye health practitioners responded that they want to learn more about nutrition. “These survey results reveal the growing awareness and interest among these practitioners, and as their knowledge is enhanced, consumers are sure to benefit,” said Cindy Schweitzer, PhD, Cognis’ Senior Scientist and head of its North American research programs on lutein esters, mixed carotenoids and natural vitamin E. “We’d like to encourage eye health organizations here in the United States to survey members to see how their nutritional wisdom compares to their colleagues in the UK,” Dr. Schweitzer suggested.
Commenting on the findings, the journal’s Editor Chris Bennett said: “There is certainly a continuing hunger for knowledge among practitioners. What’s more, a stunning 86 percent said they would, as an eye care professional, take supplements themselves. Despite this, less than 40 percent currently make such products available at their practice.”
“One of the most striking results is the lack of formal education practitioners receive on the issue of nutrition and the eye”, he said. “In our survey, just 7 percent said their university education included nutrition and its effect on degenerative eye disease.” There is no doubt that practitioners believe nutritional information is important to patients’ vision. Only 2 percent of respondents thought it unimportant and the remainder were split equally between believing it was very important or moderately important. Asked whether they recommend eye supplements to their patients, about 65 percent said they do, mostly on an occasional basis. More than a third said they “never” recommend supplements for eye health.
Bennett stated that a number of factors have come together to drive this heightened awareness and interest. The first is demographics. As the population ages, the incidence of age-related eye diseases rise too. Long-term research studies are also beginning to add support for the documentary evidence of age-related eye disease and the beneficial effects certain vitamins and carotenoids can have.
“The subject of nutrition and the eye looks certain to become a very hot topic in the near future and it will be eye care practitioners who will be in the vanguard of explaining new thinking, developments and products to the public”, concluded Bennett.
The readership survey was conducted through the Nutrition and the Eye Supplement to OPTICIAN published on December 13, 2002. Optometrists returned their completed questionnaires to the publication. A total of 176 responses were received and analyzed during the third week of January.
Cognis (www.cognis.com) is a worldwide supplier of innovative specialty chemicals and nutritional ingredients with almost 9,000 employees in close to 50 countries. The company has dedicated its activities to a high level of sustainability and delivers natural-source raw materials and ingredients for food, nutrition and healthcare markets, and the cosmetics, detergents and cleaners industries. Additionally, Cognis provides solutions for a number of other industries such as, coatings and inks, lubricants, textiles and plastics as well as agrosolutions and mining chemicals.
Cognis is owned by private equity funds advised by Permira, GS Capital Partners, and Schroder Ventures Life Sciences. In 2002, Cognis recorded sales of 3.1 billion euros and an operating profit before depreciation, amortisation and exceptional items (EBITDA recurring) of 393 million euros.
Cognis Nutrition & Health, a business unit of Cognis Group, provides antioxidant, botanical and nature-based ingredients for dietary supplements; pharmaceuticals and healthcare; functional foods and medical nutrition; and animal nutrition. As a leader in food technology, Cognis manufactures emulsifiers, emulsifier-based compounds, and numerous other specialty products for the food industry worldwide.