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  • Cited by 3
  • Print publication year: 2004
  • Online publication date: January 2010

1 - The Lens: Historical and Comparative Perspectives


Lens Anatomy and Development (Pre-1900)

The past decade has witnessed a tremendous increase in the basic understanding of the molecules and signal transduction pathways required to initiate embryonic lens development. Other advances in this time period have elucidated structural and physiological properties of lens cells, often in an evolutionary context, making it possible to frame many pathological conditions of the lens as errors of specific developmental events. All of these recent advances rest on the fundamental observations of talented investigators in previous decades and centuries. While several texts describe the history of ophthalmology as a clinical discipline, the conceptual history of basic eye research as a science, and in particular the history of lens development research, is a much less traversed subject. Though it is inevitable that we cannot include all of the many important experiments and personalities that have played fundamental roles in shaping the field of lens development, we hope to stimulate appreciation for those pioneers, both past and present, to whom we owe a debt of gratitude for their contributions to the field.

Throughout human history, the sense of sight has been both treasured and revered. Without doubt, visual loss resulting from lens dysfunction has always plagued the human family. In the early years of lens development research, investigations of the eye were intertwined with the genesis of the field of ophthalmology.