How vision begins: The light-matter interaction in the retina

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How vision begins: The light-matter interaction in the retina

Amichai M. Labin

Advisors: Dr. Erez N Ribak & Prof. Ido Perlman.

The most primary step of vision is the absorption of light by cones and rods visual pigments [1]. The efficiency of this process was found to be largely affected by the pigment properties, its spontaneous activation and molecular thermal energy [2]. These intrinsic constraints are the basis of a ~100-fold difference in sensitivity between rods and cones, and pose fundamental limits on visual information transduction [3, 4]. Another prominent feature of the light-matter interaction in the retina is the ability of photoreceptors to guide light and therefore affect photon absorbance characteristics. But given these two key features, what can we say about there interrelations? Are these a two isolated phenomenon, or is there a preliminary task which other cells carry out for cones and rods pigments? Here we address these questions by following the path of light in the vertebrate retina, experimentally and theoretically [5].

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2. Luo, D.-G., et al., Activation of Visual Pigments by Light and Heat. Science, 2011. 332(6035): p. 1307-1312.
3. Baylor, D., How photons start vision. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 1996. 93(2): p. 560-565.
4. Bowmaker, J.K. and H.J. Dartnall, Visual pigments of rods and cones in a human retina. J Physiol, 1980. 298: p. 501-11.
5. Labin, A.M. and E.N. Ribak, Retinal glial cells enhance human vision acuity. Phys Rev Lett. 104(15): p. 158102.

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