Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Insight into the development of the high acuity area of the retina

11 February 2023

Clear to See

We often pick out patterns in everyday life, but patterns are also integral to our sight too. Our retinas: light-sensing region at the back of our eye, need to develop following the right pattern. This involves defining a high acuity area (HAA); responsible for our ability to see small details, in the region of the retina closest to the temple. Without it, our clarity of vision can be impaired. HAAs are common in many diurnal (active in the day) organisms, including humans and zebrafish. Researchers studying the retina in developing zebrafish embryos have discovered that the foxd1 gene supports HAA formation. Normally defined by a higher density of light-sensing cells that are longer in length, HAAs in embryos without foxd1 (pictured) lose that density, and the cells are shorter (right-hand side; green and magenta), decreasing the resolution of sight. Video shows layers of the eye stacked on top of each other, moving from back to the front.

Written by Sophie Arthur

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