Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Retinal Revelation
21 June 2014

Retinal Revelation

As light enters our eye it passes through the cornea – the transparent skin over the iris and pupil – and the lens. Like glancing arrows, the light rays are bent into focus. They shoot across a clear, gel-filled chamber and strike a layer of light-sensitive cells that line the back of the eye. This is the retina, where the true alchemy begins. The light triggers a cascade of chemical and electrical impulses that race along the optic nerve to the brain, which creates an image – vision. However retinal problems such as age-related macular degeneration – the leading cause of visual impairment in the UK – can lead to blindness. But scientists have managed to grow a human retina from stem cells, which could be used to halt or reverse vision loss. Here, stem cells in the lab-grown retina have differentiated into photoreceptors (stained green) that respond to light.

Written by Nick Kennedy

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