At age six, when all the other kids dreamt of growing up to be police officers, rock stars and astronauts, I truly had only one aspiration: to become a biologist. Granted my perception of what a biologist did was somewhat distorted and my childhood dream had more in common with Indiana Jones and Jack Cousteau than with myself today. Even though I never became an explorer like Indy or Jack I have always felt that the last frontier is nature and the greatest puzzle is life.
Molecular Regulation of the Crystalline Lens
Chromatic aberration is a problem were light of short wavelength is focused closer to the object creating the refraction than that of long wavelength. Vertebrates solve this problem with multifocal lenses. The gradient index profile of these lenses is arranged so that different parts of the lens will focus different wavelength on to the retina. Even though the lenses grow continuously throughout the lifespan of the animal, the relative gradient index profile will remain the same. To complicate matters more, some bonefish have retinas with retinomotor movement (RMM). The color-differentiating cones are at night replaced by highly light-sensitive rods, increasing the eye’s light absorption. If a multifocal lens is attuned to a diurnal environment in the aspects of available light levels and spectra, it should be considerably less functional during nighttime when the light quantity and quality has changed and the focal plane of the retina is populated by rods. To function properly the lens needs a control system with the power to finely tune the optical properties of the lens after the ecological and functional needs that might arise.
Due to evidence received from in-vivo experiments we are currently developing a lens culture system where multifocal lenses can be studied more thoroughly in-vitro and where the physiological control mechanisms of these regulations can be studied.