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Pharmacy Product - Health Topics - Eyes and Vision

Eyes

  • Basic Eye Anatomy

Eyes and Vision

Eyes are organs that detect light, and send signals along the optic nerve to the visual and other areas of the brain. Complex optical systems with resolving power have come in ten fundamentally different forms, and 96% of animal species possess a complex optical system. Image-resolving eyes are present in cnidaria, molluscs, chordates, annelids and arthropods

The simplest "eyes", such as those in unicellular organisms, do nothing but detect whether the surroundings are light or dark, which is sufficient for the entrainment of circadian rhythms. From more complex eyes, retinal photosensitive ganglion cells send signals along the retinohypothalamic tract to the suprachiasmatic nuclei to effect circadian adjustment.

Complex eyes can distinguish shapes and colors. The visual fields of many organisms, especially predators, involve large areas of binocular vision to improve depth perception; in other organisms, eyes are located so as to maximise the field of view, such as in rabbits and horses.

The first proto-eyes evolved among animals 540 million years ago, about the time of the Cambrian explosion.[citation needed] The last common ancestor of animals possessed the biochemical toolkit necessary for vision, and more advanced eyes have evolved in 96% of animal species in 6 of the thirty-plus[note 1] main phyla.[1] In most vertebrates and some mollusks, the eye works by allowing light to enter it and project onto a light-sensitive panel of cells, known as the retina, at the rear of the eye. The cone cells and the rod cells in the retina detect and convert light into neural signals for vision. The visual signals are then transmitted to the brain via the optic nerve. Such eyes are typically roughly spherical, filled with a transparent gel-like substance called the vitreous humour, with a focusing lens and often an iris; the relaxing or tightening of the muscles around the iris change the size of the pupil, thereby regulating the amount of light that enters the eye and reducing aberrations when there is enough light.

The eyes of cephalopods, fish, amphibians and snakes usually have fixed lens shapes, and focusing vision is achieved by telescoping the lens similar to how a camera focuses.

Compound eyes are found among the arthropods and are composed of many simple facets which, depending on the details of anatomy, may give either a single pixelated image or multiple images, per eye. Each sensor has its own lens and photosensitive cell. Some eyes have up to 28,000 such sensors, which are arranged hexagonally, and which can give a full 360-degree field of vision. Compound eyes are very sensitive to motion. Some arthropods, including many Strepsiptera, have compound eyes of only a few facets, each with a retina capable of creating an image, creating vision. With each eye viewing a different thing, a fused image from all the eyes is produced in the brain, providing very different, high-resolution images.

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