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Vegetable Oil May Help Prevent Blindness

Update Date: Aug 15, 2013 03:22 PM EDT

Vegetable oil may help prevent age-related blindness, according to new research.

Scientists at the University Institute of Geriatrics of Sherbrooke in Canada came to the conclusion after incubating retinal cells with vegetable oils.  They found that vegetable oil stimulated a biochemical and biophysical changes in the cell membrane of retinal cells. Researchers said this reaction could have a beneficial effect in preventing or slowing the development of retinopathy, which is caused by damage to the blood vessels of the retina.

"Membrane fluidity, which refers to the viscosity of the lipid bi-layer of a cell membrane, is a marker of the cell function," explained Prof. A. Khalil, professor at the Université de Sherbrooke and principal investigator of the study. "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. Whereas, an increase in membrane fluidity makes for a more flexible membrane and facilitates the transmission of light through the eye."

Researchers found that vegetable oil fatty acids incorporate in retina cells and increase the plasma membrane fluidity.

They say the latest findings suggest that a diet low in trans-unsaturated fats and rich in omega-3 fatty acids and olive oil may lower the risk of retinopathy. Researchers also say replacing neutral oil used in eye drops with oil that possesses beneficial biological properties for he eye might also contribute to the prevention of retina diseases.

The latest findings are published in the Canadian Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology.

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