Our eyes are amazing and we now realize that they are for so much more than just vision. In 2001 Intrinsic Photo Receptive Ganglion Cells were discovered. In addition to the rods and cones which enable us to see colors and focus, as well as to make out shapes and contrast in dim lighting, these ipRGC’s have nothing to do with our vision.
87% of our sensory information received is by sight, 50% of our brain is used for vision and yet within our eyes are also these ganglion cells, many of which we still don’t know what functions they perform. We now do know that the ipRGC’s send information to the part of our brain associated with short term memory as well as our circadian rhythm. These ganglion cells absorb light, especially blue light which is essential for the entrainment of our circadian rhythm (see blog on Circadian Rhythm).
There is so much more to learn about our eyes and how they influence our health, with the discovery of these ipRGC’s we have gained the understanding that our eyes are essential for many of our biological functions.