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July 1972

Renaissance of the Retinal Pigment Epithelium

Author Affiliations

San Francisco

Arch Ophthalmol. 1972;88(1):1. doi:10.1001/archopht.1972.01000030003001

THE APPLICATION of recent advances in laboratory methods to the study of individual intraocular structures has greatly enhanced our ability to evaluate their function in health and disease. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the investigation of the retinal pigment epithelium where the utilization of light and electron microscopy coupled with histochemistry and autoradiography has recently revealed unsuspected functions. Long associated with the storage of vitamin A and its conversion to a form that can be utilized by the photoreceptors for the synthesis of rhodopsin, the retinal pigment epithelium has now been found to play an important role in the phagocytosis and digestion of the rod outer segment discs as well as other retinal substances. In addition, the ability of the pigment epithelium to produce and excrete a portion of the mucoprotein which surrounds the outer segments of the photoreceptors is now generally accepted. The ultrastructural pathways for the

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