Retinotopy of the human retinal nerve fibre layer and optic nerve head

T. Fitzgibbon, S. F. Taylor

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    74 Citations (Scopus)


    The organisation of the primate nerve fibre layer and optic nerve head with respect to eccentricity or the positioning of central and peripheral axons remains controversial. Crystals of the carbocyanine dyes DiI (1,1'- dioctadecyl-3,3,3',3'-tetramethylindocarbocyanine perchlorate), or DiA (4- [4-didecylaminostryryl]-N-methylpridiniumiodide) were used to trace retinal ganglion cell axons within the nerve fibre layer, optic nerve head, and optic nerve. The present study demonstrated that peripheral retinal axons were scattered throughout the vitreal-scleral depth of the nerve fibre layer. This scattered distribution was maintained as the fibres passed through the optic nerve head and into the optic nerve. Axons of the arcuate bundles showed a bias towards the scleral portions of the nerve fibre layer and a variable degree of fibre scatter across the nerve fibre layer which was not as evident in labelling from other retinal regions. There was a rough topographic representation within the optic nerve head according to retinal circumference such that both peripheral and central fibres were mixed within a wedge extending from the periphery to the centre of the nerve. Foveal fibres occupied a large proportion of the temporal aspect of the optic nerve head and nerve, whereas fibres from areas temporal to the fovea appeared to be displaced to more superior and inferior regions. Consistent with the scleral bias seen in the retina, arcuate fibres maintained a peripheral position as they passed through the optic nerve head and occupied a more peripheral position in the nerve. The present results suggest that any degree of order present within the optic nerve is not an active process; optic axons are not instructed to establish a retinotopic order within the initial portions of the visual pathway.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)238-251
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 11 Nov 1996


    • carbocyanine dyes
    • glaucoma
    • photoconversion
    • topography


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