Henry Gray (18251861). Anatomy of the Human Body. 1918.
and extends in the form of a groove for some distance along the optic stalk, so that, for a time, a gap or fissure, the choroidal fissure, exists in the lower part of the cup (Fig. 865). Through the groove and fissure the mesoderm extends into the optic stalk and cup, and in this mesoderm a bloodvessel is developed; during the seventh week the groove and fissure are closed and the vessel forms the central artery of the retina. Sometimes the choroidal fissure persists, and when this occurs the choroid and iris in the region of the fissure remain undeveloped, giving rise to the condition known as coloboma of the choroid or iris.
FIG. 865 Optic cup and choroidal fissure seen from below, from a human embryo of about four weeks. (Kollmann.) (See enlarged image)
The retina is developed from the optic cup. The outer stratum of the cup persists as a single layer of cells which assume a columnar shape, acquire pigment, and form the pigmented layer of the retina; the pigment first appears in the cells near the edge of the cup. The cells of the inner stratum proliferate and form a layer of considerable thickness from which the nervous elements and the sustentacular fibers of the retina, together with a portion of the vitreous body, are developed. In that portion of the cup which overlaps the lens the inner stratum is not differentiated into nervous elements, but forms a layer of columnar cells which is applied to the pigmented layer, and these two strata form the pars ciliaris and pars iridica retinæ.
The cells of the inner or retinal layer of the optic cup become differentiated into spongioblasts and germinal cells, and the latter by their subdivisions give rise to neuroblasts. From the spongioblasts the sustentacular fibers of Müller, the outer and inner limiting membranes, together with the groundwork of the molecular layers of the retina are formed. The neuroblasts become arranged to form the ganglionic and nuclear layers. The layer of rods and cones is first developed in the central part of the optic cup, and from there gradually extends toward the cup margin. All the layers of the retina are completed by the eighth month of fetal life.
The optic stalk is converted into the optic nerve by the obliteration of its cavity and the growth of nerve fibers into it. Most of these fibers are centripetal, and grow backward into the optic stalk from the nerve cells of the retina, but a few extend in the opposite direction and are derived from nerve cells in the brain. The fibers of the optic nerve receive their medullary sheaths about the tenth week after birth. The optic chiasma is formed by the meeting and partial decussation of the fibers of the two optic nerves. Behind the chiasma the fibers grow backward as the optic tracts to the thalami and mid-brain.
The crystalline lens is developed from the lens vesicle, which recedes within the