Supplements to help with Birdshot Uveitis and Eye Health

This is  the 3rd post on the subject of nutrition supplements and eye health from BUS member Nick Bucknall.  Here he talks about supplements that he believes are helping his eye health and Birdshot Uveitis.  To back up his ideas he provides links to related research papers.

“A balanced diet rich in fresh ingredients should provide most of the vitamins, minerals and trace elements needed for good health. But some of us are getting older or recovering from an illness, or have a natural imbalance, and we also have to deal with the side effects of medication, so if you wish to supplement your diet, here is a list of supplements I have tried and found to be beneficial.

NOTE:  The process of extracting the active ingredients from natural sources in order to manufacture dietary supplements may reduce their efficacy so make sure they are as fresh as possible.


Saffron is widely used in some parts of the world to treat a variety of eye conditions. I find it gives a rapid improvement, reducing floaters and blurring within hours! It can be added to food as a cooking ingredient or added to tea or coffee. Put a little in the bottom of the cup and soak for a minute or two in hot water before pouring tea. Saffron is expensive but you only need a pinch in each cup – a gram (about £4.50) should last up to 2 weeks.

Here are links to 3 research papers about the benefits of Saffron for the retina – the part of the eye which is damaged by Birdshot.


Turmeric (Curcumin) is a traditional remedy for uveitis and can either be used as an ingredient in cooking or can be taken in a capsule. It takes a few weeks to produce results but is very cheap.

For research, see and

Psyllium husk

Psyllium husk is a natural product derived from plantain and is a dried source of fibre which slows digestive transit, protects the stomach lining and improves digestion. It can be taken as a food additive or in a drink – I take it with fruit squash and aloe vera juice. Some anecdotal evidence has suggested that gastric problems may be a trigger for Birdshot and this has also been mentioned by my eye specialist.

Aloe Vera

Aloe Vera juice is another natural anti- inflammatory. As well as helping digestion, it is also good for skin problems, digestive irritation and indigestion, all of which are common side effects of prednislone.

Omega-3 fish oil

Omega-3 fish (EPA) offers a range of benefits including skin, nerve function and is a powerful anti-inflammatory. If you eat oily fish regularly, you should be getting enough of this but taking it as supplement does no harm and may be helpful if you don’t like oily fish! Also, it’s a good source of vitamin D. For research, see:

Glucosamine, Chondroitin & MSM

This anti inflammatory combination is often taken by arthritis sufferers but may also help with other inflammatory conditions like Birdshot. For research, see:

Vitamin D

Recent research has shown vitamin D to be helpful in treating uveitis. We normally ingest it partly through eating the right foods (oily fish, almonds and green vegetables) and partly through sunlight which our bodies convert to vitamin D. It regulates levels of calcium and phosphate in the bloodstream and is closely linked to bone health. Recent research about the benefits of vitamin D for Birdshotters was discussed at the Birdshot Patient’s Day in March, and can their research paper can be found at:


Pine bark extract is a powerful anti-inflammatory which has been shown to protect the retina. For research see:

NB also see comments below.


Vitamin B1 has been shown to be helpful in treating uveitis. For research see:


Lutein is a caratenoid found in green vegetables and is known to be good for the eyes. For research see

I take all these on a daily basis and feel that the results make it worth the trouble and expense – I have been in remission without any medication for nearly 2 years. But I still pay close attention to my diet – supplements cannot be a substitute for a good diet.


10 thoughts on “Supplements to help with Birdshot Uveitis and Eye Health

  1. I was surprised to see this comment because pycnogenol is reported to stimulate the immune system and is therefore contraindicated in patients with auto-immune conditions (See extract from MEDLINE PLUS and link to full article below). I am interested in taking pycnogenol, however I have suffered from continually relapsing anterior uveitis for 5 years, now in remission, so I do not want to do anything that may stir it up again and accordingly would be very interested in why you consider pycnogenol to be safe to use if you are predisposed to uveitis.

    “Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Pycnogenol might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using pycnogenol.”

    Incidentally I have been free of the anterior uveitis for over 2 years due to self-medication with Curcumin and zinc.

    • The post above was written by BUS member Nick Bucknall and I will draw your comments to his attention. It’s a good point that you make and it is always wise to be cautious, but pine bark extract has been shown to have a good effect on the retina and so I guess that is why Nick has decided to take it. It may depend on what is causing your uveitis and which bit of the eye is being affected as to whether you risk taking the supplement or not.

      The supplements referred to in Nick’s article are the ones that he has researched and used, he believes that they have been effective for him.

      You are very wise to check all the background material you can about supplements and we would advise you to also see what your immunologist/eye specialist says about any supplements you might wish to try out and then you can weigh up whether it is something you wish to try or not as the case may be.

  2. This is directed to nick Bucknell.
    My ophthalmologist is recommending cellcept and cyclosporine. I take no meds and am petrified of side effects. I have”early” birdshot yet they feel I should start these on a two year regimen w/ no real way of monitoring improvement as my symptoms are mild.
    They scare me by saying if I don’t do these I will be blind in 10 years.
    Do you know of any md’s advocating the regimen you are on.
    Thanks so much!!!!

    • Vikki, I will let Nick know that you have posted so he can react.. I think Nick would agree with me that if a doctor is advocating treatment you should listen to what your doctor is saying. I know he has found diet and supplements hugely helpful in helping keep him well whilst on treatment and also after treatment. The trouble is there is little research that can demonstrate that it is an effective treatment, but obviously it is your choice. You might also like to look at nutritionist Victoria Makepeace’s presentation that she did for us on diet. I will email you the link in case it is of interest.

      • I would like to start on tumeric and saffron asap. Are there capsules of each that can be relied upon? If so please advise brand name. I don’t trust the internet. Is using the actual dried saffron best way to go?? Please advise.
        Thx so much!! Would like to start these asap!

        • Don’t buy pills, use good quality organic tumeric in your cooking, preferably in a meal with fat and eat it every day, just like asian families do. You can make golden paste (recipes on line) and add it to your food, for example I put it on my breakfast cereal. Black pepper increases your absorption. As far as saffron is concerned I buy saffron online from a UK supplier called “Baldwins” as does Nick. He simply adds it to his tea and coffee which he drinks through the day. Again you can add it to your food, such as yogurt. You simply steep it in warm water and pour a little on to natural yogurt delicious with some fruit and walnuts. If you toast the walnuts in the oven coated in a little honey, they are excellent and also very good for you.

          • I just bought saffron and cucumin extract, not sure how to use the saffron other than tea and cooking. Can anyone tell me how much to use? I have both the ground and shredded from Greece

          • I am afraid we are not able to answer this as we don’t really know. The scientific evidence that this might help is not very detailed, but anecdotally one of our members used a pinch saffron in his tea and would continue to reuse the saffron through-out the day and he believes it may have helped him go into remission. However he used it along with the medication provided by his docto, as a supplement. Tumeric needs to be taken with oil and black pepper as it helps absorption, so it is ideal to take it as you would in a curry. Again this is a supplement and not an alternative to medication that is also needed for effective treatment.

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