Look inside the human eye

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The biology of the eye is extremely complex, especially when you consider the human eye only has the rough diameter of 2.54 cm and weighs approximately 7.5 grams. It is made up of around 15 distinct parts, all with different roles to play in receiving light into the eye and transmitting the electrical impulses, which ultimately relay image information to our brains so that we can perceive the world we live in.

The eye is often compared to a basic camera, and indeed the very first camera was designed with the concept of the eye in mind. We can reduce the complex process that occurs to process light into vision within the eye to a relatively basic sequence of events. First, light passes through the cornea, which refracts the light so that it enters the eye in the right direction, and aqueous humour, into the main body of the eye through the pupil. The iris contracts to control pupil size and this limits the amount of light that is let through into the eye so that light-sensitive parts of the eye are not damaged.

The pupil can vary in size between 2 mm and 8 mm, increasing to allow up to 30 times more light in than the minimum. The light is then passed through the lens, which further refracts the light, which then travels through the vitreous humour to the back of the eye and is reflected onto the retina, the centre point of which is the macula.

The retina is where the rods and cones are situated, rods being responsible for vision when low levels of light are present and cones being responsible for colour vision and specific detail. Rods are far more numerous as more cells are needed to react in low levels of light and are situated around the focal point of cones. This focal gathering of cones is collectively called the fovea, which is situated within the macula. All the light information that has been received by the eye is then converted into electrical impulses by a chemical in the retina called rhodopsin, also known as purple visual, and the impulses are then transmitted through the optic nerve to the brain where they are perceived as ‘vision’. The eye moves to allow a range of vision of approximately 180 degrees and to do this it has four primary muscles which control the movement of the eyeball. These allow the eye to move up and down and across, while restricting movement so that the eye does not rotate back into the socket.