THE GREEN/BROWN HAT, OR RETINAS IN VITRO
Retina in vitro? Seriously? Perhaps we will live to see the technology shown in Minority Report, where the hero played by Tom Cruise gets eye implants. It won’t happen tomorrow, though.
In the meantime, Johns Hopkins is growing an important part of this technology in their laboratories.
But we shouldn’t celebrate prematurely. Artificial retinas cannot be used for transplants. However, scientists are looking for a closer understanding on how we distinguish colors. This could help colorblind people.
For example, my friend came into work wearing a hat that was this hideous green color. He was sure that it was brown.
But it isn’t just about terrible hats, or even traffic lights. Colorblindness doesn’t allow people to appreciate the world to the fullest. Maybe it’s some consolation, however, that the non-colorblind can’t see even a thousandth of what tetrachromats supposedly can.
Perhaps even more consolation is tetrachromats’ painting is not very interesting.
And yet another – the majority of our smaller mammalian brothers only have two types of receptors.
THE RETINA – WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON IN THERE?
The retina, as you know, is joined to the optic nerve. It creates a code for the image that’s sent to the brain.
The three classic receptors are differentiated by red, blue, and green colors. Although hundreds of books have been written about this, the exact origin of color in the brain is still a mystery.
It’s interesting study. Evolution (or its author) thought of everything when it came to our vision. But now we drive ourselves crazy trying to solve the puzzle of blindness.
When scientists were developing artificial lenses from stem cells, they noticed that the blue cones form first. Then green, then red.
“SO WHAT?”, YOU RIGHTFULLY ASK
Generally speaking, it’s mostly nothing. Sensational science of the past, as we know, consists mostly of nothing but great promises and a bright future.
But we have still managed to find a way to hormonally activate or block the growth of photoreceptors. “So what?” you ask again. The fact is that this opens up the possibility of treating colorblindness and age-related changes in the retina. In the opinion of these scientists, of course.
Colorblindness is still incurable today. Partial loss of vision due to retinal degeneration we attempt to treat with stem cell injections. Results are still so-so, but who knows when and where the real scientific breakthrough will occur?
Text: Vadim Avrukin
Translation: Richard Crenwelge
Photo by Luz Mendoza and Jennifer Regnier on Unsplash