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Home » Your Eye Health » How the Eye Works

How the Eye Works

To understand how the human eye works, first imagine a photographic camera—since cameras were developed very much with the human eye in mind.

How do we see what we see?

eye diagramLight reflects off of objects and enters the eyeball through a transparent layer of tissue at the front of the eye called the cornea. The cornea accepts widely divergent light rays and bends them through the pupil—the dark opening in the center of the colored portion of the eye.

The pupil appears to expand or contract automatically based on the intensity of the light entering the eye. In truth, this action is controlled by the iris—a ring of muscles within the colored portion of the eye that adjusts the pupil opening based on the intensity of light. (So when a pupil appears to expand or contract, it is actually the iris doing its job.)

The adjusted light passes through the lens of the eye. Located behind the pupil, the lens automatically adjusts the path of the light and brings it into sharp focus onto the receiving area at back of the eye—the retina.

An amazing membrane full of photoreceptors (a.k.a. the “rods and cones”), the retina converts the light rays into electrical impulses. These then travel through the optic nerve at the back of the eye to the brain, where an image is finally perceived.

A delicate system, subject to flaws.

It’s easy to see that a slight alteration in any aspect of how the human eye works—the shape of the eyeball, the cornea’s health, lens shape and curvature, retina problems—can cause the eye to produce fuzzy or blurred vision. That is why many people need vision correction. Eyeglasses and contact lenses help the light focus images correctly on the retina and allow people to see clearly.

In effect, a lens is put in front of the eye to make up for any deficiencies in the complex vision process.

The main parts of the human eye include:

  • Cornea: transparent tissue covering the front of the eye that lets light travel through
  • Iris: a ring of muscles in the colored part of the eye that controls the size of the pupil
  • Pupil: an opening in the center of the iris that changes size to control how much light is entering the eye.
  • Sclera: the white part of the eye that is composed of fibrous tissue that protects the inner workings of the eye
  • Lens: located directly behind the pupil, it focuses light rays onto the retina
  • Retina: membrane at the back of the eye that changes light into nerve signals
  • Rods and cones: special cells used by the retina to process light
  • Fovea: a tiny spot in the center of the retina that contains only cone cells. It allows us to see things sharply.
  • Optic Nerve: a bundle of nerve fibers that carries messages from the eyes to the brain
  • Macula: a small and highly sensitive part of the retina responsible for central vision, which allows a person to see shapes, colors, and details clearly and sharply.

 

Special thanks to the EyeGlass Guide, for informational material that aided in the creation of this website. Visit the EyeGlass Guide today!

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Dear Valued Patient,

We are reaching out to inform all of our patients that during this COVID-19 closure our office is remaining open on an appointment-only basis, meaning our doors will be closed except for scheduled eye emergencies or urgent visual or eye health needs. We are focused on addressing possible infections that could potentially become more severe over the next few weeks. The greater purpose is to alleviate any potential burden on hospital emergency rooms that would be caused by patients seeking attention for eye health needs. However, if you are in need of glasses or contacts in order to perform your necessary day-to-day functions we will also do our best to address your needs. We are following the CDC guidelines for treating patients in our office during this outbreak. We understand that these are unprecedented times, but we want you to know that we are here for you in the case that you have a true eye emergency or urgent need. If you are unsure if your case would constituent as urgent, please call our office and we would be glad to answer any questions or concerns that you may have and advise you as to a course of action.

Best regards,

Christopher Coker, OD