The horizontal raphe (HR) as a demarcation line dividing the retina and choroid into separate vascular hemispheres is well established, but its development has never been discussed in the context of new findings of the last decades. Although factors for axon guidance are established (e.g., slit-robo pathway, ephrin-protein-receptor pathway) they do not explain HR formation. Early morphological organization, too, fails to establish a HR. The development of the HR is most likely induced by the long posterior ciliary arteries which form a horizontal line prior to retinal organization. The maintenance might then be supported by several biochemical factors. The circulation separate superior and inferior vascular hemispheres communicates across the HR only through their anastomosing capillary beds resulting in watershed zones on either side of the HR. Visual field changes along the HR could clearly be demonstrated in vascular occlusive diseases affecting the optic nerve head, the retina or the choroid. The watershed zone of the HR is ideally protective for central visual acuity in vascular occlusive diseases but can lead to distinct pathological features.
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