Discovery of myopia retinal cell

Scientists at Northwestern have discovered a ganglion cell in the mouse retina that can function abnormally if not introduced to the proper amount and time of natural light. The retinal cell, called “ON delayed,” due to its slow reaction to lights becoming brighter, is responsible for ocular development and growth in children.

If this cell is overstimulated by the red/green contrast typical of indoor lighting, the eye will continue to grow longer, hence a myopic retina. A human connection is a prime directive in future research along with ensuring the ON delay cell directly influences eye growth.

Additional findings

The Collaborative Longitudinal Evaluation of Ethnicity and Refractive Error (CLEERE) study had previously established that proper vitamin D levels lower the risk of myopia onset in emmetropic children.  Another indication that outdoors is key to proper ocular development.

Schwart and Mani’s larger body of research aims at reverse engineering the retina by identifying retinal cell types in mice, analyzing their genetic signatures, and understanding the interconnections to lead to possible gene therapies and improve the potential functions of artificial retinal prosthetics.

Mani A, Schwartz GW. Circuit mechanisms of a retinal ganglion cell with stimulus-dependent response latency and activation beyond its dendrites.