This illustration depicting the layers of the human retina is one of the most unusual and challenging images I’ve ever created. Designed as a wall mural, it is 6 times taller than it is wide!! The best way to view it is to imagine you are in a glass elevator that starts at the very bottom and then slowly moves up the height of the image allowing you to examine the startling complexity of each of the retinal layers.
Conceiving and creating this 3D illustration was so much fun, and as much an exercise in discovery for me, as it hopefully is for its viewers. I loved it! I certainly have a much more detailed understanding of the retina after all the research that was the necessary groundwork for its creation.
It is a fascinating fact that the arrangement of the human retina with the photoreceptors, (the rods and cones), placed in the 9th deepest layer is seriously counterintuitive, and almost seems like a design flaw. However, the more superficial layers are so transparent that light is still able to reach the photoreceptors. Interestingly, cephalopods (octopi, squid, cuttlefish…) did this much better. Their photoreceptors are found in the most superficial layer. Seems a superior design, wouldn’t you say?
(Starting at the vitreous humour)
1 – the inner limiting membrane (ILM)
2 – the nerve fiber layer (NFL)
3 – the ganglion cell layer (GCL);
4 – the inner plexiform layer (IPL)
5 – the inner nuclear layer (INL)
6 – the outer plexiform layer (OPL)
7 – the outer nuclear layer (ONL);
8 – the outer limiting membrane (OLM)
9 – the photoreceptor layer (PL)
10 – the retinal pigmented epithelium (RPE)
(Ending with the choroid layer of capillaries)