Mon, May 14, 2018 - Page 1 News List

LDL cholesterol, blue light recipe for retinal damage

By Wu Liang-yi and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A combination of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol build-up and long-term exposure to artificial blue light could lead to LDL cholesterol oxidation and retinal cell damage, a study conducted by National Taiwan University Hospital (NTUH) and Taipei Veterans General Hospital showed.

Long-term exposure to artificial blue light emitted by electronic devices is believed to increase the risk of retinopathy.

However, the way that light exposure leads to retinal cell damage and the factors that trigger the condition have remained largely unknown.

The study showed that it is extremely likely that LDL cholesterol accumulation is the main factor behind retinopathy.

The research team discovered that adding LDL cholesterol to lab-grown retinal cells and exposing them to artificial blue light for a long period caused the cells to accumulate an excessive amount of free radicals, damaged their mitochondrial functionality and caused the retinal cell structure to disintegrate, NTUH ophthalmologist Yang Chang-hao (楊長豪) said.

Long-term accumulation of LDL cholesterol could cause the oxidative stress in the retina to increase, Taipei Veterans General Hospital ophthalmologist Chiou Shih-hwa (邱士華) said.

“Add blue light exposure on top of that and retinopathy could easily occur,” he said.

The mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell, and if it is damaged, the functions of retinal cells would also be destroyed, Chiou said.

Cardiovascular disease is known to be associated with eye diseases, and LDL cholesterol is one of the main causes of cardiovascular disease, he added.

The research showed that there is a strong correlation between LDL cholesterol and retinopathy, he said, urging people to give up junk food.

Chiou suggested reducing LDL cholesterol consumption, increasing the intake of antioxidant-rich foods — such as cauliflower, blueberries, curcumin and lutein — and limiting the use of electronic devices to reduce the risk of retinopathy.

People should rest their eyes 10 minutes for every 30 minutes of use, he said.

As blue light is intense, international studies have suggested following the 20-20-20 rule — taking a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at an object 20 feet (6m) away — when using electronics, Chiou said.

The best foods for protecting the eyes are fresh fruits and vegetables, which contain different types of antioxidants and contribute to eye health, the Health Promotion Administration has said.

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