By Teresa Conrick
[The picture: Quantitative mercury distributions of treated zebrafish. (BR) brain, (EL) eye lens, (LV) liver, (GT) gut, (KT) kidney tubule, (MS) skeletal muscle, (YL) yolk, (SC) spinal cord.]
My daughter, Megan, was born with beautiful, vibrant, blue eyes and red hair. That was seventeen and a half years ago. Over those years, her eye color has changed where now they appear a brownish green. It was a gradual change and looking at photos of her when she was a young girl, I see how different they are now. In addition, like many people with an autism diagnosis, Meg has visual idiosyncrasies.
This became apparent as she was regressing into autism, when she lost eye contact, began to look out of the corner of her eyes, waved her fingers in front of her eyes, fixated on ceiling fans, and was transfixed by flashing lights. Ironically, my father was an ophthalmologist and eye surgeon but had passed away when Megan was eight months old, before autism entered our lives. I never got a chance to talk with him about any of these thoughts but I recently became interested in all of these factors when I found a study on the internet while "fishing" called, "Localizing organomercury uptake and accumulation in zebrafish larvae at the tissue and cellular level."
This study used florescent x-ray mapping to look at the distribution of both methylmercury then ethylmercury (thimerosal) in the zebrafish. This study is fascinating and tells us a great deal about where thimerosal and methyl mercury can end up in an embryo and beyond. Read the full version then you get a chance (HERE) but here are some highlights:
"Regions of relatively high Hg include brain, gastrointestinal tract, and particularly the eye lens. Whereas the presence of Hg in the first two tissues is expected, the relatively high accumulation of MeHg in the eye lens is unprecedented.....We observe highly preferential accumulation of Hg in the outer layer of the eye lens, reaching ≈1 μg/cm2, a level more than four times higher than in other tissues examined. Another Hg-rich region in the eye, the outer layer of the retina, shows somewhat lower levels of Hg (≈0.12–0.21 μg/cm2).....Similar patterns of Hg accumulation, with the highest Hg at the periphery of the eye lens, were observed in tissues from larvae treated with another organomercury (C–Hg) thimerosal. This suggests that the accumulation pattern does not vary strongly with the chemical form of organic Hg.....The mechanism responsible for the preferential uptake of organic Hg in the eye lens epithelium is not known at present. However, since the overall development and morphology of the adult zebrafish lens is similar to that of other vertebrates, it may be hypothesized that a similar mechanism is also responsible for the accumulation of organic Hg in the mammalian eye.....Visual defects, such as partial or complete loss of vision and constriction in peripheral visual fields, are common results of organic Hg poisoning and are known to reflect neuronal loss in certain parts of the brain. Our data using methyl- or ethylmercury-exposed zebrafish larvae reveal that a large accumulation of Hg can occur in the eye and especially in the lens epithelium. Thus, it is possible that Hg accumulation impairs the visual processes not only on a neurological level, but also by a more direct effect on the ocular tissue."
Now a quick autism-vision excerpt from Dr. Melvin Kaplan who wrote the book "Seeing Through New Eyes: Changing the Lives of Children with Autism, Asperger Syndrome and other Developmental Disabilities through Vision Therapy" says, the vision problems this population experiences “stem from deficits in the ambient vision processes involved in peripheral vision.” HERE
So ingesting mercury can cause significant injuries and deformities to the eye in humans and if you are a fish, swimming in it can cause the same. Here was another study, one that is concerning as well:
PENETRATION OF MERCURY FROM OPHTHALMIC PRESERVATIVES INTO THE HUMAN EYE
The Lancet, Volume 316, Issue 8188, Pages 237-239, 1980
"Single corneas of nine patients about to undergo full-thickness corneal keratoplasty were exposed to thiomersal by application of a hydrophilic gel contact lens preserved with this mercurial agent. These lenses were removed at operation 4 h later, and the lenses, corneal buttons, and samples of aqueous were taken for determination of total mercury by wet digestion and nameless atomic absorption. The contact lenses contained little residual mercury, but mercury was readily detected in the corneal buttons and in the samples of aqueous over the range of 1-60 ng/ml. Five control samples of aqueous obtained without exposure to mercurial preservatives contained less than 1 ng/ml mercury. Although specific effects on ocular function are not described, the use of these preservatives is associated with penetration of mercury into the aqueous in concentrations similar to those reported with systemic poisoning by organic mercurials."
Again, alarming yet makes sense. If mercury can damage from ingestion and skin contact (fish), then this seems very possible. Here's one more to reinforce the dangers, not Jeremy Piven but more proof to that occurrence:
"Diet‐related mercury poisoning resulting in visual loss" (HERE)
"We believe that these results, combined with the patient's visual field abnormalities, suggest the primary cause of his visual loss to be bilateral optic neuropathies secondary to chronic mercury poisoning."
And some other research related to the eye and mercury:
- "Indeed, one of the earliest signs of mercury poisoning is an impairment of scotopic (night) vision"
- "This aspect of vision is mediated primarily by rod photoreceptor cells, which are unable to respond appropriately to light following exposure to mercuric compounds ."
-"In addition, chronic exposure to mercury may result in a perturbation of peripheral vision, followed by a more severe loss of central vision "
"TRANSPORT OF THIOL-CONJUGATES OF INORGANIC MERCURY IN HUMAN RETINAL PIGMENT EPITHELIAL CELLS" (HERE)
So what does this all mean? I'm not sure but the correlations are something to add to an autism diagnosis, vision issues, and the possibility that mercury could be a factor.
I have been writing about melanin and its very possible association to autism and mercury. This latest group of patterns dealing with the eye, and more specifically with the lens epithelium, leads us right back to that hypothesis. This sums it up well and should bring increased attention to the DANGER of mercury and the hyped up thimerosal-containing flu vaccine for pregnant women, their fetuses, and infants.
"Both melanocytes and pigment epithelium contain melanin, which has the ability to bind organic amines and metal ions. This results in the accumulation of these substances in the eye. Melanin may protect cells from chemical stress by binding toxic chemicals; but in chronic exposure, increased and lengthy binding may cause damage to these cells." (HERE)
Teresa Conrick is Contributing Editor for Age of Autism.
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