The vertebrate circadian system that controls most biological rhythms is composed of multiple oscillators with varied hierarchies and complex levels of organization and interaction. The retina plays a key role in the regulation of daily rhythms and light is the main synchronizer of the circadian system. To date, the identity of photoreceptors/photopigments responsible for the entrainment of biological rhythms is still uncertain; however, it is known that phototransduction must occur in the eye because light entrainment is lost with eye removal. The retina is also rhythmic in physiological and metabolic activities as well as in gene expression. Retinal oscillators may act like clocks to induce changes in the visual system according to the phase of the day by predicting environmental changes. These oscillatory and photoreceptive capacities are likely to converge all together on selected retinal cells. The aim of this overview is to present the current knowledge of retinal physiology in relation to the circadian timing system.
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