pupil

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eye

eye, organ of vision and light perception. In humans the eye is of the camera type, with an iris diaphragm and variable focusing, or accommodation. Other types of eye are the simple eye, found in many invertebrates, and the compound eye, found in insects and many other arthropods. In an alternate pathway to the one that transmits visual images, the eye perceives sunlight. This information stimulates the hypothalamus, which passes the information on to the pineal gland. The pineal gland then regulates its production of the sleep-inducing chemical, melatonin, essentially setting the body's circadian clock (see rhythm, biological).

The Human Eye

Anatomy and Function

The human eye is a spheroid structure that rests in a bony cavity (socket, or orbit) on the frontal surface of the skull. The thick wall of the eyeball contains three covering layers: the sclera, the choroid, and the retina. The sclera is the outermost layer of eye tissue; part of it is visible as the “white” of the eye. In the center of the visible sclera and projecting slightly, in the manner of a crystal raised above the surface of a watch, is the cornea, a transparent membrane that acts as the window of the eye. A delicate membrane, the conjunctiva, covers the visible portion of the sclera.

Underneath the sclera is the second layer of tissue, the choroid, composed of a dense pigment and blood vessels that nourish the tissues. Near the center of the visible portion of the eye, the choroid layer forms the ciliary body, which contains the muscles used to change the shape of the lens (that is, to focus). The ciliary body in turn merges with the iris, a diaphragm that regulates the size of the pupil. The iris is the area of the eye where the pigmentation of the choroid layer, usually brown or blue, is visible because it is not covered by the sclera. The pupil is the round opening in the center of the iris; it is dilated and contracted by muscular action of the iris, thus regulating the amount of light that enters the eye. Behind the iris is the lens, a transparent, elastic, but solid ellipsoid body that focuses the light on the retina, the third and innermost layer of tissue.

The retina is a network of nerve cells, notably the rods and cones, and nerve fibers that fan out over the choroid from the optic nerve as it enters the rear of the eyeball from the brain. Unlike the two outer layers of the eye, the retina does not extend to the front of the eyeball. Between the cornea and iris and between the iris and lens are small spaces filled with aqueous humor, a thin, watery fluid. The large spheroid space in back of the lens (the center of the eyeball) is filled with vitreous humor, a jellylike substance.

Accessory structures of the eye are the lacrimal gland and its ducts in the upper lid, which bathe the eye with tears, keeping the cornea moist, clean, and brilliant, and drainage ducts that carry the excess moisture to the interior of the nose. The eye is protected from dust and dirt by the eyelashes, eyelid, and eyebrows. Six muscles extend from the eyesocket to the eyeball, enabling it to move in various directions.

Eye Disorders

In addition to errors of refraction (astigmatism, farsightedness, and nearsightedness), the human eye is subject to various types of injury, infection, and changes due to systemic disease. Strabismus is a condition in which the eye turns in or out because of an imbalance in the eye musculature. A cornea damaged by accident or illness can sometimes be corrected by excimer laser or surgically replaced with a healthy one from a deceased person. Experimental retinal implants, consisting of electrode arrays that receive visual data from an external camera, have been used to partially restore sight to persons with damaged retinas, enabling some recognition of shapes, light and dark areas, and motion. Eyes that are used in various ways for surgical repairs are supplied by eye banks. People can arrange to have their eyes donated to such organizations after their death.

Eyes in Other Animals

The camera type of eye, which forms excellent images, is found in all vertebrates, in cephalopods (such as the squid and octopus), and in some spiders. In each of those groups the camera type of eye evolved independently. In some species, e.g., kestrels, the eye can perceive ultraviolet light, an aid to tracking prey.

Simple eyes, or ocelli, are found in a great variety of invertebrate animals, including flatworms, annelid worms (such as the earthworm), mollusks, crustaceans, and insects. An ocellus has a layer of photosensitive cells that can set up impulses in nerve fibers; the more advanced types also have a rigid lens for concentrating light on this layer. Simple eyes can perceive light and dark, enabling the animal to perceive the location and movement of objects. They form no image, or a very poor one.

The compound eye is found in a large number of arthropods, including various species of insects, crustaceans, centipedes, and millipedes. A compound eye consists of from 12 to over 1,000 tubular units, called ommatidia, each with a rigid lens and photosensitive cells; each omnatidium is surrounded by pigment cells and receives only the light from its own lens. The lenses fit together on the surface of the eye, forming the large, many-faceted structure that can be seen, for example, in the fly. Each ommatidium supplies a small piece of the image perceived by the animal. The compound eye creates a poor image and cannot perceive small or distant objects; however, it is superior to the camera eye in its ability to discriminate brief flashes of light and movement, and in some insects (e.g., bees) it can detect the polarization of light. Because arthropods are so numerous, the compound eye is the commonest type of animal eye.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia™ Copyright © 2022, Columbia University Press. Licensed from Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Pupil

 

the opening in the iris through which light rays enter the eye.

The dimensions of the pupil change according to the amount of light present: the pupil dilates in darkness, under emotional excitement and painful sensations, or with the injection of atropine or adrenalin into the body; it contracts in bright light. Change in the dimensions of the pupil is regulated by fibers of the autonomic nervous system and is accomplished by means of two smooth muscles located in the iris—the sphincter, which contracts the pupil, and the dilator, which expands it. In higher vertebrates, changes in the dimensions of the pupil are produced reflexively by the effect of light on the retina of the eye; in lower vertebrates, these changes are produced by the direct action of light on contrac-tile formations in the pupil. The pupil is usually round or slitlike; in some fish (for example, in a number of sharks, rays, and flounder) and mammals (for example, in sperm whales and dolphins) a projection of the iris, suspended from the superior edge of the pupil, can cover the pupil completely in the presence of intense illumination. In man the pupil is round; its diameter may change from 1.1 mm to 8 mm. Changes in the shape, dimensions, and speed of reaction of the pupil (so-called pupillary reflexes) are of diagnostic significance in eye diseases.

O. G. STROEVA

The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

pupil

[′pyü·pəl]
(anatomy)
The contractile opening in the iris of the vertebrate eye.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

pupil

1
1. a student who is taught by a teacher, esp a young student
2. Civil and Scots law a boy under 14 or a girl under 12 who is in the care of a guardian

pupil

2
the dark circular aperture at the centre of the iris of the eye, through which light enters
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Distante, "Unsupervised eye pupil localization through differential geometry and local self-similarity matching," PLoS ONE, vol.
"Only one child is still showing signs of confusion with dilated eye pupils," added Dr Mate.
He further discusses interesting applications that have been conceptualised, including tracking students' eye pupils to access the emotional profile of students in real time.
For optimum performance and to ensure that all of the captured light enters the observer's eyes, the exit pupil of the binoculars should be smaller than your fully dark-adapted eye pupils. As you age your pupils dilate less, and while the pupils of someone in their twenties may increase to over 7mm, those of someone in the sixties may struggle to reach 5mm and for people in their seventies it can reduce to 3mm.