A previous blog drew attention to Glial (or Muller) cells that conduct light from the surface of the eye’s retina to the photoreceptor cells. These cells provide a low-scattering passage for light from the retinal surface to the photoreceptor cells, thus acting as optical fibres. Their function was reported to “mediate the image transfer through the vertebrate retina with minimal distortion and low loss”. New research in this area has increased knowledge of their functionality after constructing a light-guiding model of the retina outside the fovea. As a result, the “retina is revealed as an optimal structure designed for improving the sharpness of images”.
For more, go here.
6 Replies to “The contribution of glial cells to human vision acuity”
So are these effectively cellular fiber optics in some remote sense?
And if so, can we safely say this is yet another example of someone or something solving a functional problem millions of years before we did?
That image shown on your ARN post sure seems to show what could just as easily be mistaken for fiber optics. I guess a rather superficial test for design would be to show an image or schematic of a biological feature in question and see if people mistake it as something man-made.
Remember when critics told Behe that text book diagrams of a flagellum completely embellish what it looks like, and that they are rather dull looking in reality? Thus, they aren’t designed? Those electron micrographs sure look like blueprint sketches to me…
F2XL @ 1
Yes, the original 2007 paper had the title: Müller cells are living optical fibers in the vertebrate retina.
The abstract includes: “Using a modified dual-beam laser trap we could also demonstrate that individual Müller cells act as optical fibers. Furthermore, their parallel array in the retina is reminiscent of fiberoptic plates used for low-distortion image transfer.”
These cells are part of a complex system. Yes, we can infer design because we analyse the system to be information-rich. The only alternative is to invoke mutations and natural selection, but those advocating this mechanism cannot find anything more convincing than peppered moths and finch beaks (which are information neutral).
David Tyler…your link is broken.
Of course for the New Scientist design must be denied as they seek to spin this one for evolution.
I can’t believe the audaity of New Scientist. Don’t they know that the death-blow to the eye-is-to-complex argument was poor design? Turns out that the eye is one of evolution’s “greatest inventions.” Substitute evolution for “god” and you have a religion.
Upright BiPed @ 3
Thanks for this – I’ve added the full link as text.
Collin @ 5
There’s some wonderful material here for those interested in mental gymnastics! The significant point for me is that these recent commentaries have dropped the rhetoric about the vertebrate eye being wired backwards – except for the implication that it leaves the eye with a blind spot. “One result is a blind spot in our visual field, leading the vertebrate retina to be listed among evolution’s biggest “mistakes” [New Scientist editorial]. They say “one result” but that is the only negative thing they can now say about the eye’s design.