Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Plumbing for Eyes
13 August 2014

Plumbing for Eyes

While poets may claim they're the windows to the soul, our eyeballs are actually fluid-filled bags. The pressure of this liquid needs to be carefully maintained – if it builds up too much it can lead to the eye disease glaucoma. Now an important discovery’s been made about a tiny tube, known as Schlemm's canal, that controls the flow of fluid in the eye – here are two microscope images of the canal, taken as if looking along the tube from one end. Through detailed studies in mice, the researchers have found that this piece of biological plumbing forms in an entirely new way, different from the way that other tubes (such as blood vessels) are built. It sheds light on how Schlemm's canal keeps our eyes healthy and what happens when things go wrong in glaucoma, a disease that leaves millions of people around the world blind.

Written by Kat Arney

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