• Hitoshi Shichi


The vertebrate eye resembles the photographic camera, equipped with a cornea (lens cover), iris, lens, and retina (film) (Fig. 1). However, this apparent similarity extends no further. Whereas photographic film is no more than a gelatin coat containing a photosensitive compound (silver halide), the retina consists of several layers of cells, which have specific functions in phototransduction and neural processing. Electrophysiological responses generated by photon absorption by the photoreceptors are processed or encoded by retinal neurons and transmitted to the brain. It is interesting to note that light has to pass through the layers of neural cells before it reaches the photoreceptor cells. Therefore, the retinal neurons are virtually colorless and transparent. Each photoreceptor cell is composed of the metabolically active inner segment, which contains the nucleus, mitochondria, endoplasmic reticulum, and other subcellular organelles, and the outer segment, which contains the visual pigment in its highly membranous structure. The two segments are connected by a cilium and share the continuous plasma membrane. The distal end (i. e., opposite to the outer segment) of the photoreceptor cell forms synapses with horizontal and bipolar cells. The bipolar cells, in turn, synapse with ganglion cells and amacrine cells (Fig. 1).


Outer Segment Bipolar Cell Photoreceptor Cell Amacrine Cell Visual Pigment 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hitoshi Shichi
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Biological SciencesOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

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