The mature eye is a complex organ that develops through a highly organized process during embryogenesis. Alterations in its genetic programming can lead to severe disorders that become apparent at birth or shortly afterwards; for example, one-half of the cases of blindness in children have a genetic cause. This review outlines the genetic basis of eye development, as determined by mutation analysis in patients and in model organisms. A better understanding of how this intricate organ develops at the genetic and cellular level is central to our understanding of the pathologies that afflict it.
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