In the News (from the University of California San Francisco): “Scientists say the unexpected finding offers a new basic understanding of fetal eye development and ocular diseases caused by vascular disorders – in particular one called retinopathy of prematurity that can blind premature infants. The research, led by scientists at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and UCSF, was published online Jan. 16 ahead of print publication.
“’This fundamentally changes our understanding of how the retina develops,’ says study co-author Richard Lang, PhD, a researcher in the Division of Pediatric Ophthalmology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. ‘We have identified a light-response pathway that controls the number of retinal neurons. This has downstream effects on developing vasculature in the eye and is important because several major eye diseases are vascular diseases.’
“But researchers in the current study found that activation of the newly described light-response pathway must happen during pregnancy to activate the carefully choreographed program that produces a healthy eye. Specifically, they say it is important for a sufficient number of photons to enter the mother’s body by late gestation, or about 16 days into a mouse pregnancy.
“Researchers were also surprised to learn that photons of light activate a protein called melanopsin directly in the fetus – not the mother – to help initiate normal development of blood vessels and retinal neurons in the eye.
“Mice were reared in the dark and in a normal day-night cycle beginning at late gestation to observe the comparative effects on vascular development of the eye. The researchers verified the function of the light response pathway by mutating an opsin gene in mice called Opn4 that produces melanopsin, in essence preventing activation of the photo pigment.
“The melanopsin protein is present in both mice and humans during pregnancy. Lang said the research team is continuing to study how the light-response pathway might influence the susceptibility of pre-term infants to retinopathy of prematurity and also be related to other diseases of the eye.”
My Comment: The developing fetus experiences not only light, but also all other influences that we experience from the external environment. This prepares it to the existence outside. In spiritual development at the level of the fetus, we have to clarify all the influences of the upper one on the lower one, and precisely in the correct relationship between them, which we form, to develop until our spiritual birth.