Diet, exercise and sleep

Birdshot chorioretinopathy is an inflammatory, autoimmune disease.

There has been a lot of interest in recent years about the effects of diet on inflammatory diseases, and some suggestions that certain foods can make inflammation worse. There is plenty of information on the internet, including some scientific evidence of the effect of diet on inflammatory diseases.

There is also some evidence that lack of exercise increases the risk of contracting inflammatory diseases and that moderate exercise helps to control inflammatory diseases.

In this section, we have posted some thoughts on nutrition/diet/supplements and exercise from people with birdshot. We do not make many claims as to the efficacy, but they could be worth trying. They are not a substitute for any medication that your doctor has put you on. If you are in doubt about any conflicts with your medication, you should consult your doctor before making radical changes

If other sufferers have similar information or tips that they would like to share, we would be delighted to hear from you. Email us at   It is useful if you can provide reference sources when possible.

This first section on healthy living is provided by Nick who lives in the Midlands. He and his wife have researched this extensively. This is what he says:-

“My wife suffers from inflammatory arthritis and as my birdshot is also an inflammatory condition, we have spent a lot of time researching a dietary approach which seems to be helping us.

Healthy Eating

This is mainly common sense and involves avoiding inflammatory foods like red meat, fats, sugar, dairy products, fried and processed foods and junk food, and eating more anti-inflammatory foods like fresh vegetables and fruit (but not citrus), whole grains, cooking from basic ingredients and as far as possible, eating organic foods. We looked in particular at cooking oils and avoid sunflower and groundnut oils, preferring non-inflammatory oils like olive and grapeseed.

Daily Supplements

I take some daily natural supplements which are cheap and don’t conflict with my meds. These are Turmeric, used in many parts of the world to treat Uveitis and Pine Bark Extract, (can be bought as Pycnogenol) which is a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Digestive problems – an alternative to a prescribed medication

Another area where I have adopted a different approach concerns digestive problems. Both Prednisolone and Alendronate can cause ulcers so I have been prescribed Losec, a ppi (proton pump inhibitor) which suppresses acid reflux. However this has been linked to a heightened risk from hospital acquired infections like MRSA and particularly, C-difficile. Given that my resistance to these things is already reduced by the Cellcept, I’ve chosen to avoid the Losec and rely instead on a daily ‘natural’ health drink made up of fruit squash or juice, Aloe Vera juice and Psyllium Husk, which promotes gut function. These have been totally effective and I’ve had no digestive problems associated with my meds.

Sunscreen and Excercise

I live in the country and spend plenty of time in the fresh air but am always careful to use sun screen as Cellcept heightens the risk from skin cancers. I also get plenty of exercise, mostly, walking, horse riding, growing veg and looking after our land.

I do believe we should spend more time looking at food and lifestyle choices, while the ‘trigger’ for birdshot remains a mystery. Given that birdshot is only found in the West and was unknown before the modern era, it seems quite possible that that trigger could be linked to modern foods and lifestyle.

We should also remember that most medical research is funded by drug companies whose main aim is to increase their profits through the sale of drugs, so research which looks at solutions that are not based on medication is usually suppressed. It is also cheaper to remove the cause rather than trying to deal with the effect.”
The second section has been contributed by David in response to Nick’s suggestions:-

Anti- Inflammatory diet

“I recently came across this information about anti-inflammatory dietary positives.

Fruits, such as apples and cherries, are high in Quercetin and will therefore help reduce inflammation.

Vegetables, such as cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower and kale will help to significantly and naturally reduce inflammation. Kale is especially great for

Onions and Garlic, the bad breath duo, are two of the best foods for all sorts of ailments. They are noted to cure or relieve a large number of illnesses that plague the human body. They have absolutely wonderful healing qualities and again they are very rich in Quercetin.

Pineapples, rich in Bromelain, are great for relieving inflammation. They help to keep the pain and swelling at bay.

Omega 3 Oils, found in oily type fish such as herring, salmon, sardines and mackerel, work wonderfully well and are a great and natural way to fight inflammation naturally.

Broccoli – like Kale, is excellent for reducing eye inflammation. This great green veggie contains double the vitamin C of an orange and just about as much calcium as a glass of whole milk. Best to be bought (and used!) with bright, green florets and firm stalks. **Extra Tip** Steamed al dente is the best way to go. Raw is hard to digest. Cooked any other way and you lose all those great nutrients.

Grapes – when it comes to reducing inflammation we are really talking
about the juice part of the grape, but NOT store packaged grape juice. Grapes contain vitamin A, B-Complex and C and relieve any swelling in the throat, mouth, gums and eyes. (Grapes are done ripening once they are picked so choose a mature bunch when buying!)

Hemp Oil – let me say right away that this is not marijuana being
talked about here. Hemp oil is loaded with our friends Omega 3’s (more than flax) but also has what is called GLA’s (gamma-linoleic acid) which stimulate the growth of healthy hair, skin AND reduce inflammation. Use on salads, baked root vegetables and as a dressing. **Extra Tip**Don’t use it for cooking and you are not getting the benefits if you take it in capsule form.
Job’s Tears – sounds like a magic potion, doesn’t it? It is actually a
whole grain! Before it is hulled it has a black, sturdy case which earned it the great name. Once hulled, it looks more like barley. You may have even had it at one time and thought you were having just plain old barley soup. This grain is wonderful for cooling any inflammation and can also be very helpful for those suffering with arthritis.

I, personally, am also a big subscriber to Vegepa Omega 3/Omega 6 capsules taken with Vegco daily due to my ADD, but I’m told it works on many other problems including depression and M.E. as well as inflammation


Books available:

Stopping inflammation: Relieving the cause of  Degenerative Diseases

The Inflammatation syndrome: The Complete Nutritional Program to Preven and Reverse Heart Disease, Arthritis,  Diabetes, Allergies and Asthma

The Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Anti-inflammation diet″

Annie contributed this recent (2009) newspaper article.

HEALTH ISSUES: Saffron ‘helps prevent sight loss’

The Sunday Telegraph says research by the University of L’Aquila in Italy and Sydney University in Italy has found that saffron, a spice commonly used in Spanish, Italian and Indian cuisine, could help prevent sight loss in old age. The study indicated that eating the spice helped make the eye cells needed for vision more resilient against disease, with tests in animals also showing a diet containing saffron could protect the eye from damage caused by bright sunlight and slow the progress of genetic diseases. Saffron was also found to have a beneficial effect on humans suffering from age-related macular degeneration. The scientists are now conducting a clinical trial on human patients with the condition. Barbara McLaughlin, of the Royal National Institute of Blind People, said the results ‘seem very encouraging’. ”

Saffron is expensive – but we have managed to find good sources relatively cheaply on line.

DISCLAIMER:  There is a strong body of opinion  who believe that what you eat, how you cook your food, whether you take exercise, your life style etc has some bearing on your  general health and may in turn affect your immune system.    This section is to tell you about some alternatives.     We suggest you consult your doctors before embarking on any of the more alternative strategies.   They should not be used instead of the medication prescribed by your doctor.  We do not personally advocate any particular complementary or alternative method, but are providing these links to articles as some people have found them useful.   No claims for the cure of any disease is intended, or implied.  Always consult a health care practitioner when combating disease states.What you eat and how changing your diet might just help reduce the inflammation in your eye