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Anatomy of the Eye: Human Eye Anatomy

Updated on July 20, 2017

The eye is the organ responsible for vision. Vision is our window to the outside world.

This article explores the anatomy of the eye looking at the different structures of the human eye and their function. The diagrams below show cross sections of the human eyeball. As we journey through the different structures, refer to the diagrams to quickly digest the content on this page.

Our eyeballs are fairly round organs cushioned by fatty tissues and they sit in two bony sockets inside the skull. This helps to protect our eyes from injury.

Cross section of the human eyeball
Cross section of the human eyeball | Source

Anatomy of the Eye

Sclera

The sclera is outermost layer of the eyeball. It is the white (and opaque) part of the eyeball. Muscles responsible for moving the eyeball are attached to the eyeball at the sclera.

Cornea

At the front of the eyeball, the sclera becomes the cornea. The cornea is the transparent dome-shaped part of the eyeball. Light rays from the outside world first pass through the cornea before reaching the lens. Together with the lens, the cornea is responsible focussing light on the retina.

Choroid

The choroid is the middle layer of the eyeball located between the sclera and the retina. It provides nutrients and oxygen to the outer surface of the retina.

Anterior Chamber

The space between the cornea and the lens is known as the anterior chamber. It is filled with fluid called aqueous humour. The anterior chamber is also known as anterior cavity.

Aqueous humour

The Aqueous humour is a transparent watery fluid that circulates in the anterior chamber. It provides oxygen and nutrients to the inner eye and exerts fluid pressure that helps maintain the shape of the eye. The aqueous humour is produced by the ciliary body.

Posterior Chamber

The posterior chamber is a larger area than the anterior chamber. It is located opposite to the anterior chamber at the back of the lens. It is filled with a fluid called vitreous humour. The posterior Chamber is also referred to as the Vitreous body as indicated in the diagram below - anatomy of the eye.

Anatomy of the eye: cross section of the human eyeball viewed from above
Anatomy of the eye: cross section of the human eyeball viewed from above | Source

Vitreous humour

The vitreous humour is a transparent jelly-like fluid that fills the posterior chamber. It exerts fluid pressure that keeps the retina layers pressed together to maintain the shape of the eye and to maintain sharp focus of images on the retina.

Iris

The choroid continues at the front of the eyeball to form the Iris. The iris is a flat, thin, ring-shaped structure sticking in to the anterior chamber. This is the part that identifies a person’s eye colour. The iris contains circular muscles which go around the pupil and radial muscles that radiate toward the pupil. When the circular muscles contract they make the pupil smaller, when the radial muscles contract, they makes the pupil wider.

Ciliary muscles

The cilliary muscles are located inside the ciliary body. These are the muscles that continuously change the shape of the lens for near and distant vision. See diagram anatomy of the eye above.

Ciliary Body

The choroid continues at the front of the eyeball to form the ciliary body. It produces the aqueous humour. The ciliary body also contains the ciliary muscles that contract or relax to change the shape of the lens.

Zonules

The zonule also known as suspensory ligaments is a ring of small fibres that hold the lens suspended in place. It connects the lens to the ciliary body and allows the lens to change shape.

Lens

The lens is a biconvex transparent disc made of proteins called crystallines. It is located directly behind the iris and focuses light on to the retina. In humans, the lens changes shape for near and for distant vision.

Human Eye Anatomy: cross section of the human eyeball viewed from the side
Human Eye Anatomy: cross section of the human eyeball viewed from the side | Source
The Iris and Pupil.
The Iris and Pupil. | Source

Pupil

The pupil is the hole at the center of the iris located in front of the lens. Whenever more light needs to enter the eyeball, the muscles in the iris contract like the diaphragm of a camera to increase or decrease the size of the pupil.

Retina

The retina is the innermost layer lining the back of the eyeball. It is the light sensitive part of the eye. The retina contains photo receptors that detect light. These photo receptors are known as cones and rods. Cones enable us to detect color while rods enable us to see in poor light. The retina contains nerve cells that transmit signals from the retina to the brain.

Fovea

The fovea is a small depression in the retina near the optic disc. The fovea has a high concentration of cones. It is the part of the retina where visual acuity is greatest.

Optic nerve

The optic nerve is located at the back of the eyeball. It contains the axons of retina ganglion cell (nerve cells of the retina) and it transmits impulses from the retina to the brain.

Optic disc

Impulses are transmitted to the brain from the back of the eyeball at the optic disc also called the blind spot. It is called the blind spot because it contains no photoreceptors, hence any light that falls on it will not be detected.

Eye muscles

Muscles of the eye are very strong and efficient, they work together to move the eyeball in many different directions. The main muscles of the eye are Lateral rectus, Medial rectus, Superior rectus and inferior rectus.

Central Artery and Vein

The central artery and vein runs through the center of the optic nerve. The central artery supplies the retina while the central vein drains the retina. In the diagram above - anatomy of the eye, the artery is shown in red while the vein is shown in blue.

Tear Duct

This is a small tube that runs from the eye to the nasal cavity. Tear drains from the eyes in to the nose through the tear duct. This is why a teary eye is usually accompanied by a runny nose.

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      Squidy 3 years ago

      Cool