The effect of unilateral disruption of the centrifugal visual system on normal eye development in chicks raised under constant light conditions

Brain Struct Funct. 2017 Apr;222(3):1315-1330. doi: 10.1007/s00429-016-1279-9. Epub 2016 Aug 17.


The centrifugal visual system (CVS) comprises a visually driven isthmic feedback projection to the retina. While its function has remained elusive, we have previously shown that, under otherwise normal conditions, unilateral disconnection of centrifugal neurons in the chick affected eye development, inducing a reduced rate of axial elongation that resulted in a unilateral hyperopia in the eye contralateral to the lesion. Here, we further investigate the role of centrifugal neurons in ocular development in chicks reared in an abnormal visual environment, namely constant light. The baseline ocular phenotype of constant light-reared chicks (n = 8) with intact centrifugal neurons was assessed over a 3-week post-hatch time period and, subsequently, compared to chicks raised in normal diurnal lighting (n = 8). Lesions of the isthmo-optic tract or sham surgeries were performed in another seventeen chicks, all raised under constant light. Ocular phenotyping was performed over a 21-day postoperative period to assess changes in refractive state (streak retinoscopy) and ocular component dimensions (A-scan ultrasonography). A pathway-tracing paradigm was employed to quantify lesion success. Chicks raised in constant light conditions with an intact CVS developed shallower anterior chambers combined with elongated vitreous chambers relative to chicks raised in normal diurnal lighting. Seven days following surgery to disrupt centrifugal neurons, a significant positive correlation between refractive error asymmetry between the eyes and lesion success was evident, characterized by hyperopia in the eye contralateral to the lesion. By 21 days post-surgery, these contralateral eyes had become emmetropic, while ipsilateral eyes had developed relative axial hyperopia. Our results provide further support for the hypothesis that the centrifugal visual system can modulate eye development.

Keywords: Anisometropia; Circadian; Ectopic area; Hindbrain; Hyperopia; Myopia; Refractive error.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anisometropia / etiology*
  • Anisometropia / pathology
  • Chickens
  • Eye / growth & development*
  • Eye / radiation effects
  • Functional Laterality / radiation effects*
  • Light / adverse effects*
  • Refractive Errors / etiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Visual Pathways / physiopathology*
  • Visual Pathways / radiation effects
  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins / metabolism


  • Wheat Germ Agglutinins