Slicing through this mouse’s eye reveals onion-like layers of curvy fibre cells. Lens fibres mature as the eye develops and move towards the centre of the lens, losing their nuclei (the round purple blobs) and filling up with crystallin proteins (coloured pink here). Crystallin proteins are essential to mouse and human sight, but they can also do damage. Changes in the eye as we age often allow cloudy clumps of crystallin to form leading to cataracts, the main cause of vision impairment worldwide. Looking into the eyes of hereditary cataracts sufferers, researchers found an enzyme called lanosterol synthase was missing, a major clue to its role in preventing the condition. They found lanosterol is able to disperse crystallin clumps and fend off the cataract, raising hopes of future chemical treatments without the need for eye-watering surgery.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.