The lipid peroxidation of unsaturated fatty acids (UFAs) in the retina not only threatens visual cells but also affects the physiological health of the retina. In this work, the potential damages caused by daily visible light exposure on retinal UFAs were evaluated via a simulated in vitro model. At the same time, the benefits of dietary supplementation of blueberries to the eyes were also assessed. After prolonged light exposure, lipid peroxidation occurred for both docosahexaenoic and arachidonic acids (DHA and AA, respectively). The oxidized UFAs presented obvious cytotoxicity and significantly inhibited cell growth in retinal pigment epithelium cells. Among the different blueberry polyphenol fractions, the flavonoid-rich fraction, in which quercetin was discovered as the main component, was considerably better in preventing visible light-induced DHA lipid peroxidation than the anthocyanin- and phenolic acid-rich fractions. Then the retinal protective activity of blueberry polyphenols against light-induced retinal injury was confirmed in vivo. On the basis of the above results, inhibiting lipid peroxidation of UFAs in the retina is proposed to be another important function mechanism for antioxidants to nourish eyes.
Keywords: blueberries; lipid peroxidation; polyphenols; retina; unsaturated fatty acids.