This study found that patients who strongly adhere to a Mediterranean diet had an increased risk of DED. Photo: Amy Hitchmoth.

Diets rich in unsaturated fats and oils, such as a traditional Mediterranean diet, are generally considered healthy, but unfortunately this one  may not necessarily help to reduce the risk of dry eye disease (DED), according to a study presented on Sunday at the 2022 ARVO meeting in Denver.

A total of 58,993 participants from the Dutch Lifelines population-based cohort were included in the study (60% female). The researchers administered the Women’s Health Study dry eye questionnaire to assess DED outcomes and quantified the level of adherence to a Mediterranean diet using a modified Trichopoulou’s Mediterranean diet score. They reported that 9.1% of participants had DED as defined by the Women’s Health Study and that greater adherence to a Mediterranean diet wasn’t associated with a decreased risk of dry eye.

Interestingly, they noted that higher Mediterranean diet score values (i.e., stronger adherence) were significantly associated with an increased risk of DED in all statistical models. Higher scores were also associated with a greater risk of symptomatic dry eye across all models after excluding participants with a DED diagnosis.

The researchers wrote in their abstract that the causes of this observed effect need further exploration.

Original abstract content © Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology 2022.

Magno M, Moschowits E, Beining M, et al. The relationship between adherence to a Mediterranean diet and dry eye disease. ARVO 2022 annual meeting.