Background: A study was carried out to measure the displacement of retinal ganglion cells subserving the cones within the human fovea.
Methods: Four human retinas were examined along the nasal or vertical hemi-meridians. Total displacement was estimated by adding the displacement due to fibres of Henle and bipolar cells, measured as the lateral extension of the Henle fibres and of the obliquely running fibre bundles within the inner nuclear layer, respectively.
Results: At the foveal border (0.5-0.8 mm or 1.8-2.9 deg eccentricity) the mean offset due to fibres of Henle and mean total lateral displacement was at a maximum of 0.32 +/- 0.03 mm and 0.37 +/- 0.03 mm, respectively. A steep decrease of displacement was found outside the foveal border out to an eccentricity of 2.0-2.5 mm. We were able to plot displacement along the vertical meridian in relation to eccentricity with good correlation between three eyes. The data were used to establish different mathematical functions describing the relation between eccentricity and displacement. These functions were applied to previously presented data on densities of retinal ganglion cells and cones.
Conclusions: The present estimates of displacement within the human central fovea offer the possibility of analysis of quantitative relations between cones and retinal ganglion cells. Our data provide predictive guidance by establishing that vitreo-retinal procedures causing damage to retinal ganglion cells up to 1 mm from the foveal centre could have implications for loss of information generated within the fovea.