Clinical implications of the melanopsin-based non–image-forming visual system

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Abstract

Since the discovery of the non–image-forming visual system, tremendous research efforts have been dedicated to understanding its mechanisms and functional roles. Original functions associated with the melanopsin system include the photoentrainment of circadian sleep-wake cycles and the pupillary light reflex. Recent findings, however, suggest a much broader involvement of this system in an array of physiologic responses to light. This newfound insight into the underlying function of the non–image-forming system has revealed the many connections to human pathology and attendant disease states, including seasonal affective disorder, migraine, glaucoma, inherited mitochondrial optic neuropathy, and sleep dysregulation of aging. In this review, the authors discuss in detail the clinical implications of the melanopsin system.

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