Brain Foods

Brain Foods

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What is DHA's role in the eye?

What is DHA's role in the eye?

 

The concentration of DHA in the cells of your eye is even higher than in the brain. Again, DHA is one of the lipids in the protective cell membrane of the special cells in the retina, the rods and cones, which enable you to see. DHA's role in the visual process is to facilitate the rapid signal processing from the eye to the brain. DHA keeps the cell membrane fluid, allowing chemical signals which result from photons of light to pass through it. The cell needs to be able to quickly switch "on" and "off" rapidly to convey these light signals to the brain. Without adequate DHA, the cells do not respond fast enough, and the brain receives inadequate signals. Vision, then, may become impaired.

As we age, our antioxidant defenses become less efficient. The cells in the eyes are particularly susceptible to free radical damage, since a portion of the light from the sun is ultraviolet and x-ray radiation. Without adequate antioxidant protection, the DHA in the eye may be damaged by this high-energy radiation, causing further oxidative damage. Some researchers believe this is one of the reasons why our vision becomes weaker as we get older. For people with an eye disorder called Retinitis Pigmentosa, loss of vision begins much earlier in life, sometimes as early as adolescence. What we learn from this disorder and how it is related to DHA may help us manage the loss of vision that affects many elderly people with otherwise healthy eyes.

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