Refractive eye development is regulated by optical defocus in a process of emmetropization. Excessive exposure to negative optical defocus often leads to the development of myopia. However, it is still largely unknown how optical defocus is detected by the retina. Here, we used genome-wide RNA-sequencing (RNA-seq) to conduct analysis of the retinal genetic networks underlying contrast perception and refractive eye development. We report that the genetic network subserving contrast perception plays an important role in optical defocus detection and emmetropization. Our results demonstrate an interaction between contrast perception, the retinal circadian clock pathway and the signaling pathway underlying optical defocus detection. We also observe that the relative majority of genes causing human myopia are involved in the processing of optical defocus. Together, our results support the hypothesis that optical defocus is perceived by the retina using contrast as a proxy and provide new insights into molecular signaling underlying refractive eye development.
bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience