How to observe red blood cells

Red blood cells (also known as erythrocytes) are responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Unlike other cells, red blood cells do not have a nucleus (they have lost it during development). The available space can now be used to carry hemoglobin, the red pigment which carries oxygen. The red blood cells are disk shaped, with an indentation in the center.

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I accidentally cut my finger while preparing food. As an amateur microscopist, this is a fortunate opportunity to do yet another investigation.

The preparation

The cells can be observed in a wet mount. one only has to make sure that the amount of blood between slide and cover glass is low. otherwise it is not possible to see individual cells.

If you are interested in making a permanent mount, then the blood must be dried first. A small drop of blood was placed on the slide and spread with the corner of a cover glass. The cover glass was held at an angle of about 45 degrees into the drop. The cover glass was then pulled across the slide once, spreading the blood. The slide was then air dried and the slide was observed without mounting medium (the loss of quality is tolerable).

After drying, I added mounting medium to make a permanent mount. The excess dried blood was then washed off.

Red blood cells of human blood. No mounting medium used. Taken with 60x objective.
Red blood cells of human blood. No mounting medium used. Taken with 60x objective.
Blood in dark field
Blood observed with a dark field patch stop.
Blood in oblique illumination
Here the light comes mostly from one side, giving the cells a slightly three dimensional impression