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Abstract

Various physiological and anatomical studies have suggested that the ciliary epithelium may be under the influence of adrenergic nerve fibers. This study was undertaken in an attempt to characterize the innervation of the ciliary epithelium. Both light and electron microscopy revealed that the ciliary epithelium is only sparsely innervated. In addition, the ciliary epithelium overlies a highly vascular stroma, and the distance between the large vascular channels and the ciliary epithelium is small. These features of the stroma indicate it is structurally suited for a transport function, a fact which supports earlier reports that the elaborate membrane infoldings of the ciliary epithelium are indicative of a transport function. The discrepancy between previous descriptions of the innervation of the ciliary epithelium, demonstrating complex subepithelial plexuses of adrenergic nerve fibers, and the results of the present study may be due to the fact that the fluorescence technique used in previous studies could have labelled some other tissue component in addition to adrenergic nerve fibers. Results with orcein and aldehyde fuchsin stains indicate that the disposition of elastic fibers in the ciliary processes is similar to previous descriptions of adrenergic nerve fibers as determined by fluorescent techniques.