Current Issue
Spring 2014
BMM Current Issue
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Window to the Body
For a picture of overall health, look inside the eye.

The retina (above, in a photo by To) is a thin, multi-layered neural tissue whose function is to receive visual images, partly process them, and then forward this information to the brain. Retinal evaluations tell us not only about the health of the eye, but also about the overall health of the patient; systemic conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, and leukemia are readily recognized in such retinal exams.

According to To, “Every part of the eye—cornea, iris, lens, ciliary body, vitreous, ocular blood vessels—serves to support the retina and ensure that the eye’s optical system perfectly focuses the image of the world on the retina’s photoreceptors (also known as rods and cones). We used to think the retina’s role was simply to convert light to a chemical signal that was then transmitted to the brain. But many studies have since shown that the retina plays an integral role in visual processing and analysis. That is why it is often referred to as the ‘business part of the eye.'"

King To '83 MMS’86 MD’86 is a clinical professor of surgery (ophthalmology).
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