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What Is the Ora Serrata?

The ora serrata marks the boundary between the retina and the ciliary boundary.
The ora serrata may be observed during an eye exam.
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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Kristen Osborne
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2014
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The ora serrata is a part of the anatomy of the eye. This term was also once used to describe part of the gastroesophageal junction, but this usage is outdated; while it may be encountered in some older textbooks, it is not in wide usage currently. Fortunately, thanks to the substantial differences between the eye and the digestive tract, the section of the anatomy under discussion is usually clear from the context, in the event that one encounters a text using the older term.

In eye anatomy, the ora serrata marks the boundary between the retina and the ciliary boundary. The retina is the light sensitive portion of the eye that responds to light allowed to filter through the pupil. In total, the retina makes up about 70% of a globe, with a space provided with the ciliary body, lens, iris, and pupil so that light can be admitted into the eye. At the site where the retina ends and the ciliary body begins, the ora serrata can be observed.

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As the name implies, this area has a serrated appearance at the join. It can be brown, gray, or even black in color, depending on the person. Sometimes the retina immediately adjacent to the ora serrata is slightly discolored. This is usually normal, but if the discoloration onsets suddenly or appears to change over time, it can be a sign of a health problem for the patient. Located in the front of the eye, this structure is visible on certain types of ophthalmological exams conducted to assess a patient's eye health.

Also sometimes labeled as the ora cilaris retinae, the ora serrata is an important part of the anatomy of the eye. It is the junction between the light-sensitive areas of the eye equipped with specialized cells that respond to light and the areas of the eye that are responsible for filtering the intensity of that light. In patients with retinal detachment, the detachment usually ends at the ora serrata because this is the site where the retina officially ends. In rare cases, the detachment may extend through the ora serrata and this can be observed during an eye exam.

It is recommended that all people receive regular eye exams approximately every two years to check for signs of damage to the eyes. Visual impairments can onset slowly and sometimes problems can be identified in the early stages, before they have an opportunity to progress and lead to vision loss. In certain patients where the risks are higher, more frequent examinations may be recommended. Some communities have programs that offer eye exam funding to low income individuals who cannot otherwise afford regular eye care.

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