Structure of the Retina of The Eye

This page is a summary of the anatomical structures of the retina, which is the light-sensitive layer at the back surface of the eye.

The retina is an extremely important light-sensitive* layer at the back surface of the eye. It includes many intricate structures essential for vision (eyesight).

Above: Diagram of the structure of the retina

Different textbooks report different numbers of layers of the retina. For example, some texts identify as few as six layers, while others describe the retina in terms of as many as ten different layers.

Layers of the Retina



Definition / Description


Membrana limitans interna

The membrana limitans interna is the retinal layer located nearest to the centre of the eyeball - in contact with the hyaloid membrane of the vitreous humour.


Stratum opticum

The stratum opticum is the extension of the optic nerve and is at its thickest around the optic disc, gradually reducing in thickness towards the ora serrata.


Ganglionic layer

The ganglionic layer is a single layer of large ganglion cells stretching across the retina except in the region of the fovea where there are several ganglia deep.


Inner molecular layer

The inner molecular layer consists of a network of fibres connecting and meshing together the dendrites of ganglion cells with cells of the inner nuclear layer.


Inner nuclear layer

The inner nuclear layer consists of three different types of cells that are packed closely together.


Outer molecular layer

The outer molecular layer is a dense network of tiny fibres extending from the processes of cells of inner nuclear layer.


Outer nuclear layer

The inner nuclear layer contains sub-layers of oval-shaped components called rod-granules and cone-granules.


Membrana limitans externa

In common with the membrana limitans interna, the membrana limitans externa is formed from the fibres of Müller.


Jacobs Membrane

The Jacob's membrane is composed of two types of units, they are rods (which are the more numerous to the two), and cones.


Pigmentary layer

The pigmentary layer (or "Tapetum Nigrum") is the most external - i.e. the most distant from the centre of the eye, layer of the retina.

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