The morphological development of the human fovea

Ophthalmology. 1984 Jun;91(6):603-12. doi: 10.1016/s0161-6420(84)34247-6.


The development of the human fovea has been traced from 22 weeks gestation to 45 months postpartum using aldehyde-fixed, plastic embedded, serially-sectioned normal retinas. Five anatomical indicators of foveal maturity were used in this study: the shape of the foveal curvatures; the presence of the transient layer of Chievitz; the width of rod-free zone in the central retina; the width and length of the individual foveal cones; and the number and thickness of layers of nuclei within the fovea. The future fovea is identifiable at 22 weeks by the presence of a thick layer of ganglion cells and a photoreceptor layer containing only cones. By 1 week after birth, there is a shallow foveal depression, but the thick cones still lack outer segments and are only 1 cell deep in the fovea. The inner nuclear layer contains a thick transient layer of Chievitz. As judged by these anatomical criteria and compared to normal adult foveas similarly processed, the human fovea reaches maturity between 15 and 45 months of age.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fovea Centralis / embryology
  • Fovea Centralis / growth & development*
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Macula Lutea / growth & development*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Photoreceptor Cells / embryology
  • Pregnancy
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology