When baby mice are in the womb, their eyes benefit from light.
Baby mice that are still in the womb need light in order to fully develop their sense of sight.
Scientists at the University of California in San Francisco working with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center found that eye development was changed when the pregnant mice spent all of their time in complete darkness.
Blood vessels in the eye need small amounts of light in order to grow.
Professor Richard Lang, from Cincinnati Children's Hospital said that the amount of light “has a major effect on the way the retina develops that requires light going through the body.”
The small amount of light that gets through the skin activates a protein in the mice called melanopsin, which is also present in human beings.
It is not clear if the same process that requires light happens in humans or other animals during gestation.
Even if the baby mice are born blind, doctors have now come up with a procedure that can allow them to see.
Researchers have successfully transplanted cells that fixed the light sensitive part of the retina in the previously blind mice.
This kind of surgery may eventually be able help people that have lost their sight due to progressive blindness.