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Blood vessels in the eye

Kim Baxter, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust

Download this image from Wellcome Collection.

Blood vessels inside a person’s eye. These blood vessels supply nutrients to the retina, the thin layer of light-sensitive tissue which lines the back of the inside of the eye and works a bit like film in a camera. Light enters the eye and is focused onto the retina, which then converts these images into electrical signals and sends them on to the brain to make sense of. If one of these blood vessels gets blocked or starts to leak, this can cause problems in the eye and may affect eyesight.

This image is roughly 20 mm wide.

Imaging technique: fluorescein angiography

This common procedure is primarily performed to look at how well the circulation in the eye is working. Fluorescent dye is first injected into a person’s arm. The dye then travels through the person’s veins and eventually through the blood vessels in the eye, where it highlights them so they can be photographed with a special type of camera.

Location where image was created

Cambridge, UK

Why did the judges choose this image?

“The first thing that struck me when I saw this image was the synergy between the complex network of retinal veins and the window of my own eyes with which I was viewing it. Having suffered a torn retina in an accident many years ago, the sophistication of an organ so fundamental to my work as an artist and the knowledge and skills of the surgeon who saved the eye were brought into sharp focus. It is a beautiful and mesmerising image, the intricate tracery of the veins and ambiguous scale provokes multiple readings as our own eyes scan the surface – complex river networks mapped out across a delta, illuminated arterial city networks viewed from space or electro-magnetic fields in a far galaxy. It is an image that is hard to take your eyes off.”

Rob Kesseler, visual artist, Professor at Central Saint Martins and Chair in Arts, Design & Science at the University of the Arts London

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