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Secret of the Mysterious Reverse-Wired Eyeball Solved

First Posted: Feb 27, 2015 01:47 PM EST

Researchers at the Israel Institute of Technology have recently confirmed the biological purpose of the wiring of the human eye. From a practical standpoint, many scientists have noted how it doesn't quite make the most sense. In vertebrates, the photoreceptors are located behind the eye-resulting in light scattering by the nervous fibers and blurring of the vision.

"The retina is not just the simple detector and neural image processor, as believed until today," said Erez Ribak, a professor at the Technion -- Israel Institute of Technology, in a news release. "Its optical structure is optimized for our vision purposes." 

Ribak has previously worked applying astrophysics and used astronomy technics to improve the ability of scientists and opthalmologists to view the retina at high detail.

"For the first time, we've explained why the retina is built backwards, with the neurons in front of the photoreceptors, rather than behind them," Ribak said.

Previous studies have shown that Muller glia cells, otherwise known as a type of metabolic cell that crosses the retina, play an essential role in guiding and focusing light that's scattered throughout the retina. Researchers ran computer simulations as well as in-vitro in mouse models to test this. They discovered that the cells were concentrating light into photoreceptors.

Researchers will use water-filled goggles to reduce corneal aberrations for a finer view of retinal depth in the future.

More information regarding the findings will be presented at the 2015 American Physical Society March Meeting, on Thursday, March 5 in San Antonio, Texas. 

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