Fiber optics in mammals’ eyes separate colors | Science News

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Fiber optics in mammals’ eyes separate colors

Müller cells shunt red and green light to cones and let blue light leak onto rods

By
12:48pm, July 10, 2014

Special cells in the retina split light into different colors to enable sharp vision during the day without harming night vision.

Those long and tubelike cells, called Müller cells, snake through the layers of the retina. Müller cells have long been known as support cells for light-gathering cone cells, which they pair with in the retina. Cones absorb red and green light and enable crisp daytime color vision. The retina also contains rod cells that absorb blue light for fuzzier monochromatic night vision.

In humans and many other animals, the retina sits at the back of the eye, instead of at the front, where cones and rods could absorb the most light. Evolutionarily, inverting the retina would seem to be a huge mistake, says Serguei Skatchkov, a biophysicist at the Central University of the Caribbean in Bayamón, Puerto Rico. Peering through several layers of eye tissue, he says, “is like looking through milk.” How light penetrates those tissues to reach the

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