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Worksheet 2: The Human Eye - structure and function.

THE HUMAN EYE
We are able to see because light from an object can move through space and reach our eyes. Once light reaches our eyes, signals are sent to our
brain, and our brain deciphers the information in order to detect the appearance, location and movement of the objects we are sighting at.
The whole process, as complex as it is, would not be possible if it were not for the presence of light. Without light, there would be no sight.
The human eye is the organ which gives us the sense of sight, allowing us to learn more about the surrounding world than any of the other five
senses.

The eyeball is set in a protective cone-shaped cavity in the skull called the orbit or socket and measures approximately one inch in diameter. The
orbit is surrounded by layers of soft, fatty tissue which protect the eye and enable it to turn easily.
Structure of the Eye
In general the eyes of all animals resemble simple cameras in that the lens of the eye forms an inverted image of objects in front of it and projects
it onto the sensitive retina, which corresponds to the film in a camera.
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The structure most directly involved is the lens.The front of the eye mainly contains an elaborate array of structures which are mainly concerned with the refraction (ie bending) of light rays and bringing them into focus on the retina. double convex (outward curve on both sides) structure suspended between the aqueous and vitreous humours helps to focus light on the retina. Suspensory Ligaments 2 . The Lens Focusing the eye is accomplished by a flattening or thickening (rounding) of the lens. The transparent. The lens becomes flatter for distant objects and rounder for closer objects. the lens can focus on near and far objects. The eye changes light rays into electrical signals then sends them to the brain. By altering its shape. which interprets these electrical signals as visual images via the optic nerve.

which relaxes the suspensory ligament. the aqueous humour (as its name suggests) is a clear watery fluid that occupies the front chamber of the eye and nourishes the lens and the cornea.These are elastic-like structures present in the eye that suspend the lens and pull it into shape for focusing distant objects onto the retina. When the ciliary muscles are relaxed. It also helps to give the eye shape. Ciliary Body For nearer objects the lens is increasingly rounded by ciliary muscle contraction. Aqueous Humour As opposed to the vitreous humour. and protection. the perimeter of the lens is pulled outwards giving it a flattened shape. The aqueous humour is secreted by the ciliary processes 3 . The ciliary body projections are responsible for the secretion of the aqueous humour. This process is known as accommodation.

which is constant. less gives green and the least amount. 4 . By the age of six. for instance. also refracts (bends) light rays. The front of the cornea is covered by a thin layer of epithelium which is continuous further out with the conjunctiva Sclera The sclera is the tough. Cornea The front of the eye is protected by the thick transparent cornea. and is continous with the cornea. Melanin's function in the iris is to help absorb excess light that might otherwise overwhelm our vision. the eventual colour of the eye emerges as cells bearing melanin build up on the front of the iris. colorless mass of gel that lies behind lens and in front of retina. Some people have more melanin than others. A large amount gives brown or black eyes. and the amount at the front. It is the transparent. Iris : The iris contains circular and radial muscles. outer layer (coat) of the eyeball. and light is reflected from the rear of the iris and scattered in such a way that it appears blue (a similar scattering of light makes blue skies). The iris is also what determines our eye color. which is variable. it protects the entire eyeball. Eye colour depends on the amount of pigment on the back of the iris. The more melanin pigment found in the iris. Different contractions of these 2 sets of muscles has the effect of varying the size of the pupil hole. Albinos have pink eyes because their irises have no pigment on either the front or back and therefore the 'pinkness' occurs due to reflection of the choroid capillaries behind the retina . along with our hair. Pupil : Is the opening in the iris which permits entry of light into eye. Through the opening and closing of the iris' circular muscles excessive light is prevented from falling on the retina and damaging the light-sensitive photoreceptors. the darker the eye colour will be. blue or grey. After a few months. which like the lens. white. Most new-born white babies have no pigment cells at the front. often have eyesight problems associated with an oversensitivity to light.The Vitreous Humour The spherical shape of the eyeball is maintained by this jelly-like substance. and in most of us. Albinos who lack melanin. most people's eye colour is fixed. it fades with old age.

Heavy pigmentation in the choroid layer and in the epithelium on its inner side. The macula is unique in that it has a high denisty of cones which are the photoreceptors concerned with colour and enable high quality vision. sensitive area of the central retina which provides vision for fine work and reading. which lines most of the interior of the eye ball. The macula is responsible for the sharp. in which the macula becomes covered with scar tissue and vision is obscured. All photoreceptors (light sensitive) cells are concentrated in the retina. The most sensitive region of the macula is the fovea (it has an even higher density of cones) The rest of the retina's surface handles our peripheral vision. However for images seen in bright light. we use the central retinal region (the macula) for a sharper focus when we look directly at the image. Have you ever noticed how we can often see things more sharply in faint light if we do not look at them directly? This is because the rods are designed for vision in dim light. Regions of the Retina:  Macula The small. In people over sixty. clear vision that occurs when we look directly at something (as it lies roughly in the center of the retina).The Retina: The retina is nourished by a layer rich in blood vessels called the choroid which is found immediately beneath it and protected by a thick connective tissue coat called the sclera. shields the retina and prevents light being reflected within the eye. as the cones detect detail brilliantly. 5 . the most common cause of blindness is macular degeneration. and this is where most of the rod photoreceptors of the retina are located.

 Fovea The fovea is the most central part of the macula and provides the sharpest of sharp vision. The Photoreceptors Diagram of retinal photoreceptors .the rods and cones Photoreceptors are the unique cell types that are the very crux of our ability to see. this occurs normally in all eyes. It boasts the highest concentration of cones and therefore the highest acuity. Because of the fovea you achieve your sharpest day vision however by looking straight at the object of interest. Humans actually move their eyes so that images of interest are projected onto their foveas.  Blind Spot The blindspot is a small area of the retina where the optic nerve actually enters the eye.there are 2 types: 6 . It results in a gap in the visual field which corresponds to an area of the retina where no visual cells are present. The photoreceptors are light sensitive cell types that reside in the retina .

7 . these animals cannot perceive different colours and their visual acuity is relatively poor.i. i.e DAYLIGHT VISION The cones are capable of colour perception and have high visual acuity as they are densely packed in the center of the fovea.  Rods The rods lie outside the fovea in the more peripheral parts of the retina. are connected in groups so that they respond as a group to stimuli Many nocturnal animals have only rods in their retinas. as opposed to the cones. where their function is to perceive the surrounding environment as accurately as possible in conditions of good illumination . The rodshaped cells. The coneshaped cells of the retina are individually connected to other nerve fibers. Cones The cones are packed together in the fovea. Their function is NIGHT VISION.e to perceive as much as possible of the environment in conditions of low illumination. fine details can be distinguished. as a result. so that stimuli to each individual cell are reproduced and. However.

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