Canadian researchers caution against mercury
Wednesday, October 2 2013 | 00 h 00 min | News
We should all eat fish. It promotes healthy eyes because of the fatty acids it contains. Yet, it also contains mercury. And mercury is damaging to the eyes!
Every time we eat fish or seafood, we consume low levels of methylmercury. For North Americans, who get approximately 7% of their protein this way, it’s not much of a problem. However, for Asians, who rely on this source for about 23% of their protein, the issue becomes a much bigger deal.
Methylmercury attacks the central nervous system, causing disturbances such as visual problems. Until recently, the scientific community claimed that this was due to a damaged visual cortex. However, a new study by researchers at the University of Saskatchewan shows that the accumulation of methylmercury in the retinal photoreceptors also affects vision.
“There are many reports of people affected by methylmercury claiming a constricted field of vision or abnormal colour vision,” said Dr. Gosia Korbas, a researcher at the Canadian Light Source who worked closely with the team of researchers at the U of S. “Now we know that one of the reasons for their symptoms may be that methylmercury directly targets photoreceptors in the retina. Our study clearly shows that we need more research into the direct effects of methylmercury on the eye.”