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Nutrition for Your Practice

By: Laurie Capogna, OD

There is a paradigm shift in health care from being reactive doctors who merely treat disease to proactive doctors who educate our patients about prevention. Currently, North Americans are suffering at a staggering rate from chronic diseases related to poor nutrition and obesity, such as AMD, hypertension, diabetes and ocular surface disease. There is a need to educate all of our patients about the power of foods, nutrition and lifestyle in preventing eye disease.  The more information we offer our patients, the more motivated they will be to make better health decisions at home to lead them to a lifetime of healthier eyes.

New technology, a more competitive marketplace and changes in health care policy are challenges that we are all facing in our practices today. Providing our patients with preventative eye care is one way to offer them better care and differentiate your practice. It would create loyalty, increase your revenue and it would bring in new like-minded patients through word-of-mouth.

Implementing change into our busy offices isn't easy; however, change is necessary to compete in today's competitive eye care market and to take our practices to the next level. Here are three simple steps to get you started offering more nutrition education to your patients.

  1. Educate: Doctors, Team, Patients
    Carotenoids (lutein, zeaxanthin and mesozeaxanthin), antioxidants (vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A), zinc, and omega-3 fatty acids (DHA and EPA) are some of the most important nutrients for ocular health and visual performance. Everyone benefits from including foods high in these nutrients in their diets every day.

    Here are some simple tips to give to every patient that will help them make the best food choices for their ocular health.

    Leafy Greens: A handful a day keeps AMD away.
    Orange Peppers: Eat 2 peppers per week, 2 ways, raw and cooked.
    Cold Water Fish: 4 Fish per week. Small is safe (low in contaminants).

    You can also share these tips with your followers on Twitter and Facebook!

  2. Create the Environment
    Help your patients make the connection between nutrition and eye health. Have books, magazines, and brochures about nutrition. Take a more creative approach and add fun food photos, food displays or offer healthy food samples to your waiting room.

    In your optical boutique create an attractive retail display with supplements and educational materials. Don't worry if space is an issue as one or two shelves is all you need.

  3. Create Individualized Nutrition Plans
    Create personalized nutrition plans, taking into account current ocular status, nutritional status and in some cases, genetic testing. Counsel patients using visuals. When you discuss a disease, let the patient know she has the opportunity to prevent progression through nutrition and lifestyle.

    It's time to take a broader view on nutrition in eye care. All of our patients will benefit from nutritional counseling regarding diet. In addition, patients with ocular surface disease, patients with risk factors or those who have AMD, patients with diabetes, and patients who desire high-performance vision, may all benefit from supplements.

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