Jennifer Hocking


Photoreceptors are the cells of the eye responsible for converting light into visual signals, and are often the first cells to degenerate in diseases causing blindness. Photoreceptors have unique shapes optimized for capturing light through the formation of a large sensory ending shaped like a rod or cone, hence the two subtypes photoreceptors. Rods are used for low light vision and cones for high acuity colour vision. Many retinal dystrophies are genetic and symptomatic from childhood, beginning with either abnormal photoreceptor formation or degeneration of the sensory ending and followed by cell death. In our lab, we use zebrafish as a model to study photoreceptor biology and disease because zebrafish eyes share similar anatomy and cell populations with humans retinas. Using various tools, we can follow changes to visual function as well as photoreceptor structure and survival during disease progression, with the goal of determining time windows and methods for intervention.

Stories this researcher is featured in:

September 9, 2021

A summer of research

Science student JuliAnn Thai spent four months investigating a rare congenital eye disease.

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