Richard’s View: Impressive Eyes

A patient recently told me that they thought the intricacies that are revealed when you start to study the way that an eye works, and is constructed, is evidence or even proof that there is a Creator and that evolution just can’t account for it.

Certainly the more we discover about the way that, for instance, light is converted from electromagnetic radiation into nerve messages and then into what we perceive as vision, the more it seems to be miraculous. How on earth could Darwinian evolution by survival of the fittest account for the development of such a complex and brilliantly organised system?

I’m not going to take sides on the theological arguments but I do know that every time I look in an eye I am awed by what I see and feel privileged to be able to help to make someone’s vision better. Even after forty five years and, at a rough estimate, two hundred thousand eyes it is still a thrill to see the back of an eye in detail. Now that we have OCT technology, which presents us with a slice by slice series of sections of the retina and can build up a three-dimensional model of a retinal block that we can rotate and look at from all angles, that feeling of amazement is multiplied over and over again.

OCT_image2Researchers have recently discovered that certain of the nerve ganglion cells in the retina have a second purpose. We previously assumed that they were just part of the chain of nerve cells modifying and transmitting information from the rods and cones, that turn light into nerve impulses, and sending it on to the brain. Now we find that these cells are also sensitive to light themselves and, although this sensitivity probably has little to do with vision, it does affect our daily lives as it supplies information to the diurnal cycle controlling, for instance, when we feel tired and contributing to that annoying condition, jet-lag.

What more there is to discover is something that I find unimaginable but clearly we should not assume that just because a cell is in the eye it ought necessarily to be involved with vision. Similarly the extreme rearmost part of the brain has most to do with vision.

Keep on bringing in your old spectacles for our Vision Aid Overseas collection and if your workplace or social organisation wants to make a collection themselves we will be happy to send them on for you.

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