Retina Research Institute

retinal pigment epithelium

Harvard Medical School Department of Ophthalmology

Evangelos S. Gragoudas, M.D.
Joan W. Miller, M.D.

Retinal Function Research

The retina, which lines the inside of the back of the eye, contains highly specialized cells that convert visual images into electrical signals. The retina then transmits the signals to the brain via the optic nerve. Vision begins with the absorption of a photon by a visual pigment molecule, followed by a complex cascade leading to hyperpolarization of the photoreceptor. Disruption of this pathway can cause blindness. Investigators at Mass. Eye and Ear are investigating the biomechanics and electrophysiology of these early events in the visual pathway.

Image: Retinal pigment epitheium (courtesy of Aris Thanos, M.D.)

Retinal Disorders

Genes, lifestyle, and age-related factors can all affect the retina, which is susceptible to numerous disorders. In the United States, the leading causes of adult blindness—age-related macular degeneration (AMD) and diabetic eye disease—are diseases of the retina.

For patients with retinal disease, vision loss may be slowed or even reversed with therapies pioneered by the members of the Department of Ophthalmology. Today, translational research discovery continues to provide groundbreaking knowledge and innovative treatments in vision care. Retinal research programs are underway to define the etiologies of these conditions as well as investigate new methods of diagnosis and treatment.



Images: Electrophysiological recordings of retinal responses (courtesy of the Retina Research Institute)