The visual system of zebrafish and its use to model human ocular diseases

Dev Neurobiol. 2012 Mar;72(3):302-27. doi: 10.1002/dneu.20919.


Free swimming zebrafish larvae depend mainly on their sense of vision to evade predation and to catch prey. Hence, there is strong selective pressure on the fast maturation of visual function and indeed the visual system already supports a number of visually driven behaviors in the newly hatched larvae.The ability to exploit the genetic and embryonic accessibility of the zebrafish in combination with a behavioral assessment of visual system function has made the zebrafish a popular model to study vision and its diseases.Here, we review the anatomy, physiology, and development of the zebrafish eye as the basis to relate the contributions of the zebrafish to our understanding of human ocular diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal*
  • Eye / growth & development*
  • Eye / ultrastructure
  • Eye Diseases / pathology
  • Eye Diseases / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Morphogenesis / physiology
  • Visual Pathways / growth & development*
  • Visual Pathways / physiopathology
  • Visual Pathways / ultrastructure
  • Zebrafish