Fighting blindness with vegetable oil
Sunday, August 25 2013 | 00 h 00 min | News
Some of the research at the Research Center on Aging at the Health and Social Services Centre – University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke (CSSS-IUGS) has focused on strategies for protecting retinal-pigment epithelium (RPE) cells. The results show that vegetable oils have some benefits.
Dysfunction of these cells occurs in cases of retinopathy or age-related macular degeneration. These investigators found that incubating RPE cells in vegetable oil causes changes in the cell membrane that may play a role in preventing or impeding the development of retinopathy.
When incorporated into retinal cells, the vegetable-oil fatty acids tested increased plasma-membrane fluidity. “A decrease of membrane fluidity can affect the rotation and diffusion of proteins and other bio-molecules within the membrane, thereby affecting the functions of these molecules,” explained Professor A. Khalil, “whereas an increase in membrane fluidity makes for a more flexible membrane and facilitates the transmission of light through the eye.”
The investigators concluded that a diet low in transunsaturated fats and high in both omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil may reduce the risk of retinopathy. The research further suggests that replacing the neutral oil used in eye drops with oil that has biological properties that are valuable for the eye could also help prevent retina diseases.