“Myopia Cell” Discovered
Thursday, March 23 2017 | 00 h 00 min | Vision Science
Researchers at Northwestern Medicine have discovered a cell responsible for controlling the growth and development of the eye in childhood. When it is dysfunctional, then the cell instructs the eye to grow too long, resulting in myopia. The results, published in the February issue of Current Biology, is titled The article is titled “Circuit Mechanisms of a Retinal Ganglion Cell with Stimulus-Dependent Response Latency and Activation Beyond Its Dendrites.”
Greg Schwartz, lead researcher on the paper, named the cell “ON delayed”, due to its slow response to brightening light. The cell’s primary function appears to be the ability to detect when an image is in focus.
Scientists have long sought the trigger that controls eye growth, “But for years no one knew what cell carried the signal,” Schwartz said. “We potentially found the key missing link, which is the cell that actually does that task and the neural circuit that enables this important visual function.”
Schwartz believes that the red-green contrast indoor light overstimulates these cells, causing an aberrant amount of growth in the eye.
These results are part of a larger study to attempt to “reverse engineer” the retina, identifying all retinal cells by type and function. There are about 50 types of retinal ganglion cells already discovered.