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On Being a Doctor |

The Miracle of the Eye

Ralph E. Yodaiken, MD, MPH
[+] Article and Author Information

Requests for Reprints: Ralph E. Yodaiken, MD, MPH, 7100 Oak Forest Lane, Bethesda, MD 20817.


Copyright 2004 by the American College of Physicians


Ann Intern Med. 1993;119(12):1214-1215. doi:10.7326/0003-4819-119-12-199312150-00009
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Light strikes the retina, activating photoreceptor rods and cones. Immediately, impulses discharge through a myriad of bipolar and ganglion cells, along fibers that gather in bundles of optic nerves and stream like two converging rivers to the chiasma, spreading from there to junctions beneath the brain. Here at the geniculate body, colors are sortedblues, reds, and greens. From these junctions nerve fibers course to the visual cortex at the back of the brain for processing shape and formflowers, grass, sky. The need for action blends with stored experience, the interpretive melding almost instantaneously. Move forward to smell, smile, proceed with caution, whatever it takes for motion or stillness, flight or rest. The eye, a complex machine beyond comprehension, has evolved through eons of hunger, hunt, fear, and survival.

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