1,100 Words

Optic Nerve

Stare deep, deep, into someone’s eyes (in this case, a mouse) and you might see something like this – a tangle of blood vessels (purple) and astrocyte cells (green, blue) supporting retinal ganglion cells (red), nerve cells that help carry visual signals from the eye to the brain. Jeremy Kay’s lab at Duke recently found that astrocytes and blood vessels form this supportive network by migrating from the optic nerve along “axon highways” -- long, wiry arms of nerve cells that transmit electrical signals – to cover the entire retina. Understanding how retinal tissue forms could help researchers prevent certain forms of childhood blindness.