Those of us who are involved in clinical ophthalmology are used to seeing
images of standard paraffin-embedded histologic sections of the globe that
have been stained with hematoxylin-eosin or periodic acid–Schiff. Although
the retina can be visualized in this way, the experience is rather unsatisfying
owing to the thickness of paraffin sections, the artifacts inherent to the
process, and the tissue autolysis that is often present in autopsy specimens.
However, a walk through the poster sessions at an Association for Research
in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) meeting is enough to impress upon anyone
what vision researchers have known for years. Namely, that with appropriate
specimens and some of the newest and cleverest research methods, truly amazing
light microscopic retinal images can be produced. Perhaps this is not too
surprising since, as our pathologist colleagues remind us, a histologic section
is actually a small piece of the patient, containing all of the complexity
inherent in multicellular organisms. The tissue already has the answers; we
just have to ask the right questions.
The Human Retina in Health and Disease [CD-ROM]. Arch Ophthalmol. 2002;120(9):1239. doi: