Right Turn: Eye candy, a.k.a. retinal stem cells

Author: Lisa Willemse, 03/14/14

The eye is a complicated, fascinating  and important organ. Historical records indicate that the Hindus of ancient India began performing cataract surgeries as early as the fifth century BC and that both the Egyptian and Greek civilizations had developed procedures for treating various forms of blindness. Two thousand years later, we continue to look for ways to improve and restore sight, with new techniques and understanding. One of the current areas of research involves retinal stem cells and the video below provides a fantastic glimpse into where these special cells can be found as well as one approach to treatment, currently being investigated by the Derek van der Kooy lab in Toronto.

Our regular feature, Right Turn, showcases the “lighter” side of stem cells and regenerative medicine. Every Friday, we will bring you cartoons, photos, videos and other content that may be just as thought provoking as the written submissions that you are used to finding here, but they definitely won’t be blogs.

As always, we welcome your feedback and we also welcome suitable submissions. Be creative! Use the right (!) side of your brain. Make us laugh! Let’s see if we can make this new direction a positive one for all of us. Send your submission to info(at)ccrm.ca.

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Lisa Willemse

Lisa Willemse

Lisa is a science communicator with 15+ years' experience in the fields of regenerative medicine, child development and technology. She launched this blog (first as the Stem Cell Network Blog) in 2009, and served as co-editor until April 2015. She is currently the Senior Communications Advisor for the Ontario Institute for Regenerative Medicine and has recently contributed to Motherboard, Science Borealis and the Genome Alberta and Canadian Blood Services blogs. Follow her on Twitter and Medium @WillemseLA.
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3 Responses

  1. frank rafie says:

    This is great video, with one minor caveat:
    In the beginning 27 seconds, the eye is shown absorbing light from left to right.
    From 27 seconds into the video, the retinal position is shown in the opposing direction, with the optical nerves on the left side of the screen, absorbing light from the right to the left of the screen.

    Greater continuity, and probably stronger message to the layman, will be offered to present in uniform direction.

    • Carl Wonders says:

      Hi Frank,

      Actually, the animation is consistent. The photoreceptor layer is actually behind the retinal ganglion cells (which project to form the optic nerve). Light actually must pass through several other neuronal layers before being sensed by the photoreceptors. The signal is then carried back towards the inner surface of the retina (towards the left in this video).

      I agree it’s a bit counter-intuitive, but the way the retina is represented here is correct.

      And I agree, it’s a FANTASTIC video!

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