Do you have patients who have difficulty with decreased contrast sensitivity? The right prescription might be a bar of dark chocolate. A recent study published in JAMA showed that eating an entire bar of dark chocolate gave some people better high- and low-contrast vision within two hours. Is this fabulous news, or what? Even better the vision-enhancing effects wear off fairly quickly. That’s too bad because your patient will need to eat another bar of chocolate.

Methodology: Let them eat chocolate

Jeff Rubin, O.D., of the Rosenberg School of Optometry, is responsible for this delectable research.
“30 participants without pathologic eye disease each consumed dark and milk chocolate in separate sessions. They tended to have better small-letter contrast sensitivity right after eating the dark chocolate (1.45 log of the inverse of the minimum detectable contrast [logCS] units versus 1.30 logic units after milk chocolate consumption, P<0.001)," Rubin says in JAMA.

How does it work?

The mechanism for visual improvement is a mystery, though “an increase in retinal, visual pathway, and/or cerebral blood flow could be contributory, enhancing bioavailability of oxygen and nutrients to metabolically active sites,” the authors suggested.

“Improvement in visual acuity and contrast sensitivity was small and short lasting, and hence, further research must be done in order to determine the relevance of its use in clinical practice,” commented Luis Silva, M.D., of The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai in New York City, who was not part of the study.

In other words, the chocolate vision improvement isn’t totally understood and warrants further investigation. Run your own study by patronizing any of the fine chocolatiers below.