24th June 2011
Scientists working at Syracuse University have revolutionised thinking in terms of how vision is processed, those in line for corrective eye surgery may be interested to hear.
The group, which also included researchers from Columbia University, found that previous assumptions over the vision process are flawed, by showing that the process happens differently than first thought.
Previously, scientists thought that light signals could only be initiated by light-receptor molecules in the retinal cells changing shape through isomerisation, but this team have showed that is not the case.
Instead, they found there is an earlier step in the process, which does not require isomerisation, involving redistribution of electrons on the chromophores, which absorb light once it enters the eye, triggering a series of rapid and complex molecular changes.
Lead author Kenneth Forster said: "We found that the complete blocking of isomerisation of the chromophore does not preclude vision in our model organism."
According to the RNIB, there are around two million people in the UK who suffer from sight loss. This research may have implications for them.
Posted by Edward Bartel
1. Forster, Kenneth: "Evidence from Chlamydomonas on the Photoactivation of Rhodopsins without Isomerization of Their Chromophore. Chemistry and Biology, 23rd June 2011.
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