Myopia affects about 1 in 3 Americans and even more in other parts of the world. A study in PNAS reports that increased exposure to violet light prevents myopia progression in mice. The research conducted in the Lang Laboratory centers around eye development.
During mouse postnatal eye development, the embryonic hyaloid vascular network regresses from the vitreous as an adaption for high-acuity vision. This process occurs with precisely controlled timing. Here, we show that opsin 5 (OPN5; also known as neuropsin)-dependent retinal light responses regulate vascular development in the postnatal eye. In Opn5-null mice, hyaloid vessels regress precociously. We demonstrate that 380-nm light stimulation via OPN5 and VGAT (the vesicular GABA/glycine transporter) in retinal ganglion cells enhances the activity of inner retinal DAT (also known as SLC6A3; a dopamine reuptake transporter) and thus suppresses vitreal dopamine. In turn, dopamine acts directly on hyaloid vascular endothelial cells to suppress the activity of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (VEGFR2) and promote hyaloid vessel regression. With OPN5 loss of function, the vitreous dopamine level is elevated and results in premature hyaloid regression. These investigations identify violet light as a developmental timing cue that, via an OPN5-dopamine pathway, regulates optic axis clearance in preparation for visual function.