About the project
Dr Rose Gilbert, a Clinical Fellow and PhD research student, embarked on an "Eating for Eye Health" Project after working in the Macular Degeneration clinics and becoming aware of the lack of treatment options available for the dry AMD patients. Alongside, Ms Susana Irving (a clinical and research nutritionist who works at UCH/ Barts) and additional support from The UCL Public Engagement Unit, Rose was successful in gaining a UCL Beacon Bursary" to plan and fund the project.
VIDEO Dr Rose Gilbert: 'There are limited options upon a diagnosis of dry AMD, which progressively threatens central vision and quality of life. Doctors are often limited to giving lifestyle advice about eye protection or counsel that dry AMD may further progress to the wet form of AMD. For many, this is a frustrating situation. As a doctor I am very aware of the adverse impact of dry AMD and I wanted to raise awareness of the research that suggests nutrition may help protect against the progression of AMD and then encourage patients to cook and eat food that could support eye health.' “Eating for Eye Health” consisted of two phases:
- The first phase involved a patient and family member focus group event to discuss the relationship between nutrition and eye health, and to find out patients’ views on diet, in addition to a food tasting. Together we compiled a list of appealing antioxidant-rich recipes.
- The second phase included a community kitchen project where we brought together patients and people from the local community to socialise, prepare some of the recipes and to eat together. “Eating for Eye Health”: An update
Dr Gilbert was announced as the winner of the 'individual-led project' category at the NCCPE Engage Awards (Nov 2016) in recognition for her work on the Eating for Eye Health project.
The National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement (NCCPE) annual conference, held in Bristol each year, provides an opportunity for all those interested in public engagement to come together, to be inspired, challenged and refreshed. Winning this national public engagement award was a remarkable achievement as there were over 180 entries across 6 different catergories which demonstrated a broad range of high quality activities to inspire and involve public audiences. For more information about the NCCPE conference and the national public engagement awards, please click here. Focus Group
On Saturday 8th August, clinicians and UCL postgraduate students gathered at "Pod", City Road, together with patients and their relatives/ friends for an "Eating for Eye Health" focus group. Dr Rosie Gilbert started by welcoming the participants and introducing the "Eating for Eye Health" Project.
This introduction was followed by short interactive talks from Mr Zubin Saihan, Consultant Ophthalmologist in Cataract Surgery and Medical Retina on " AMD and the AREDS Trials" and Dr Melanie Dani, Specialist Registrar in Care of the Elderly Medicine and PhD Research Student on "Preventing neuro-inflammation and cognitive decline with lifestyle and dietary modifications". The event and discussions were also facilitated by UCL Institute of Ophthalmology PhD students, Ms. Rita Pinho, Ms. Garima Sharma and Dr. Chrishne Sivapathasuntharam, who were also able to talk about of their involvement with research into clinical eye disease. Participants enjoyed a selection of delicious, healthy food from Pod including falafel, tomato and Lebanese red pepper wraps, salmon cream cheese and wasabi sandwiches, a vegetable dipping platter, "slow burner" salad with lentils and Turkish cheese, blackcurrant superfood pots, bee pollen bircher yoghurts and handmade superfruit booster bars! During the food tasting, there were interesting discussions on awareness of how diet and nutrition influence health, how to tailor diet to optimise general health and how to prepare food to optimise absorption of nutrients. Participants shared stories of how their eye problems have impacted their lifestyle and their thoughts on the changing trends in diet and nutrition and what they perceived as barriers to changing their lifestyles. The morning was concluded with a short questionnaire on dietary habits and a positive evaluation of the event by the participants, who were all keen to participate further in the project. The responses from this questionnaire will feed into the later stages of the project. The project organisers would like to thank Pod, UCL Public Engagement Unit and UCL Institute of Ophthalmology and NIHR Moorfields BRC for their help and support in organising the focus group and to thank the wonderful and enthusiastic participants for coming along and for their valuable contributions. - The presentation slides from the focus group can be downloaded by clicking on the following link: eating_for_eye_health_focus_group_presentation.pptx This includes recipes for butternut squash soup and kale pesto! Cookery Session
Inspired by the enthusiasm and positive feedback from the participants of the focus group held at Pod, Dr Rose Gilbert set about organising a Community Cookery Day in collaboration with Siobhan Mannion, the manager of the Community Kitchens Project at Manor Gardens Centre, Islington. With the help of Siobhan and Susana Irving, a clinical and research nutritionist, Rose and the Eating for Eye Health team devised a three course menu, rich in antioxidants thought to be protective for eye health. To start the meal, we planned to have butternut squash soup, followed by a main course of honey and soy-marinated salmon fillets with red onion, peppers and sweet potato and a spinach and orange salad. The dessert was to be blackberry and apple sponge. These recipes were from a “tried and tested” collection that Siobhan had used in her community cookery classes, and which were adapted with colourful ingredients to boost the nutrient content for eye health.
We invited participants from the NIHR Moorfields BRC Research Community to take part, and Rose was joined by Susana, Richard Cable from the NIHR Moorfields BRC and two PhD students, Rita and Garima, from the UCL Institute of Ophthalmology on the day, to support the participants. A professional photographer and videographer were also arranged to record the event and interviews with the consenting participants.
The Cookery Day took place at the Central Street Cookery School, St Luke's Community Centre on Monday 16
th November 2015, a short distance from Moorfields Eye Hospital, City Road. We welcomed the participants and Siobhan got everyone talking with a "food bingo” icebreaker activity. We then explained to the participants how the session would run, including a health and safety briefing about basic food hygiene.
In contrast to the focus group held at Pod, we explained there was to be “no free lunch” because the attendees were tasked with cooking it themselves in a “Ready, Steady, Cook!” style session with all the ingredients provided. Again, we were blown away with the enthusiasm of those who attended and their engagement with preparing the part of the menu assigned to them. Whilst the food was cooking, we had a food tasting featuring a selection of so-called “superfoods”, for example sauerkraut, dark chocolate with raw cocoa nibs, and merlot grape juice. Susana explained some of the science behind the superfoods and answered participants’ questions.
When the food was ready, we all sat down to enjoy the meal together, with Susana explaining what the specific health benefits were whilst the food was being served. The participants were asked to rate each course by holding up a “yum” or “yuck” sign. The feedback was very positive and the majority of the participants reported that they now felt “very confident” about cooking for themselves with the recipes provided.
With the help of Siobhan Mannion of the “Community Kitchens Project” in Islington, Susana and Rose devised a three course menu with easy recipes for eye health including Butternut squash, Turmeric and Brazil nut soup; Salmon fillet with Red Onion and Pepper; Baked Sweet Potatoes; Spinach, Orange and Linseed salad; and Apple and Blackberry Sponge Pudding.
A number of recipes from the Community Cookery Day in November 2015 at St Luke's Community Centre can be downloaded by clicking on the links below: 1. Butternut Squash, Turmeric and Brazil Nut Soup.pdf 2. Baked Sweet Potato.pdf 3. Salmon Fillets with Ginger Red Onion and Pepper.pdf 4. Spinach Orange and Linseed Salad.pdf 5. Apple and Blackberrry Sponge Pudding.pdf
Photo Gallery Photos taken at the Community Cookery Day in November 2015 at St Luke's Community Centre :
Photos taken at the focus group held on the 8th August 2015 at "Pod", City Road: