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Anatomy of the Visual System

The Eye:

The eye is a very complex, delicate, and vital structure, which is responsible
for an organism's interaction with the external world. It is the most important
and influential sense organ. It receives information from the outside world in
the form of light, and sends loads of information to the brain all the time. The
human eye is a little less than one inch in diameter and almost spherical.
The eye has a very specific design or form, which captures and processes
light coming from outside light reflected by the stimuli. Eyes function like a
camera, which has its aperture, and a lens through which the light enters
and cells present in it process the received light just as do the intricate
internal parts of the camera.
Anatomy of the Eye

The anatomy of the eye is broadly divided into three parts along with its

The external structure of the eye.

The immediate structure of the eye.
The internal structure of the eye.

All structures are important in terms of their processing and functioning

1. The External Structure

The entire external structure of the eye is a "light-tight" box

Cornea is a transparent external surface, five-layered membrane that
covers both the pupil and the iris. It is the first and most powerful lens
or layer of the visual apparatus that helps to form the sharp image on
the retinal photoreceptor cells, along with the crystalline lens.

Outer walls of the eye are formed by a hard, white substance called
`sclera', hence sclerotic coat that covers 5/6th of the surface of the
eye. The outside of the eye is light-tight and its mechanism is designed
in such a manner that only small amount of light can enter into a small
opening that enables the production of a clearer vision, because a
smaller opening also acting as the `aperture', creates a sharper image.
2. The Immediate Part

Pupil is a dark, adjustable opening in the centre of the eye through
which the light enters. It changes its size as the amount of
light entering the eye varies. It looks dark and black in appearance,
because of the absorbing pigments in the retina.

Around the pupil of the eye, there is a ring of muscle tissue that
controls the size of the pupil opening, through
its contraction and expansion. It contains the colour pigments
and thus gives colour to the eye the colour which
the eyes possess such as brown, black, green, blue etc. are
due to the iris muscles.

The transparent part of the eye that is located behind the pupil that
changes it shape in order to focus images on the retina. The lens
changes its own thickness in order to focus image properly on retina
this ability of the lens is called accommodation". The process of
accommodation depends largely on the location of the object with
respect to the observer's body distant objects require a relatively flat
lens and the muscles that are controlling it are relaxing as compared to
when focusing the nearer objects, when muscles contract, taking
tensions off the lens thus making the lens more round shaped.

Fluids in the Chambers of the Eye

Eye has three important layers or chambers:

Anterior layer that lies between the cornea and iris.

Posterior layer that lies between iris and lens.
Vitreous layer that lies between the lens and the retina.

Anterior and posterior chambers are filled with aqueous humour.

Whereas, the vitreous chamber is filled with a more viscous fluid, the
vitreous humour. The eye is filled with these two liquids that are
important because they help maintain the shape of the eye and
provide nourishment to the cells present in the eye. The function of
these fluids is the same as that of blood in other parts of the body; the
difference being that these liquids are nearly transparent, so that they
can nourish the cells of the eye without interfering with the light that
enters in the eye.

Rods and Cones

Retinal receptors which are long, cylindrical, and light sensitive; that
can only detect black, white and grey; they functions well in dim light,
and are largely insensitive to colour and small details__ functions when
cones do not respond. Rods are used for `peripheral vision', i.e. the
objects that are outside the main centre of focus, and for night vision.
Retinal receptors, cone- shaped and light sensitive, concentrated near
the centre of the retina that is concerned with sharp focusing, fine
details and colour sensation; they work well in well- lit conditions i.e.,
bright or sufficient light. Rods and cones are distributed unevenly
throughout the retina. There are fewer cones i.e. about seven million
than rods i.e., 125 million.

Important Regions of Retina

The very sensitive and important part of the retina that aids in
focusing; it is the area of best vision. The largest concentration of
cones is present in fovea. There are no rods present in fovea.
Blind Spot
The area or point where the optic nerve leaves the eye; no receptor
cells are located here, thus creating a blind" spot, area of no vision.