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Get a close-up look at eyes

This article first appeared in the 1/17/20 edition of the Davis Enterprise.

Get a close-up look at eyes

Sagittal view of the human eye. Photo from the National Eye Institute, National Institute of Health.

Get a close-up look at eyes

 

By Sara Thompson

Special to the Enterprise

 

 

Our eyes are a small and very important part or our bodies and lives, but how much do you know about these small, ball-like organs?  Most people have heard about the parts of the eye such as the pupil, cornea, rods, cones, and the optic nerve, but how do all these parts work together to help us view our world?

 

The most notable part of the eye is the pupil and iris.  The pupil is the black dot in the middle of the eye that allows light to enter.  The iris surrounds the pupil and is what causes the pupil to change size, which affects the amount of light that enters the eye.  The color of the iris is dependent on genetics and heredity, but it act the same regardless of color.  Both the iris and pupil are covered by the cornea, which is a clear protection shield.  Immediately behind the pupil is the lens which focuses the light entering onto the light sensitive parts known as the macula and retina at the back of the eye.  Between the lens and the retina is a soft, jelly-like substance known as the vitreous humor.  All of these parts of the eye are surrounded by the sclera, which is the white part of the eye that helps keep the shape of the eye and keeps everything protected.

 

The pupil and iris let light into the eye, and the lens focuses it, but it is the retina that interprets what we’re seeing and sends it to the brain.  Most people have heard of cones and rods in the eye, but what are they actually used for?  Cones are concentrated in the center part of the retina, or the macula.  These help us to see color and fine details, such as reading and faces.  Rods are located on the outer areas of the retina and help with peripheral vision and are what help us see in the dark.

 

All things we see begin as light bouncing off an object, entering our eye, and being interpreted by the retina.  The retina then sends this information to the brain via the optic nerve as electrical impulses, which our brain then interprets as the image or object we’re looking at.  All of this sophistication in a tiny organ of the body that is often forgotten unless something is wrong with it.  If any part of the eye was damaged or just wasn’t working right, the whole system would suffer, which is where we visual problems arise.  Depth perception, blurriness, even color-blindness are all due to something not being quite right in the eye and interrupting the electrical signals to the brain.

 

Check out Explorit’s Light & Sound Exhibit and learn more about light and how it can be manipulated both inside and outside the eye.  We are open to the public on Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 1-5pm.  Admission is only $5 per person, free for Members, teachers with school ID, ASTC, and ages 2 and under.

 

 

Explorit's coming events:

  • Become a member of Explorit!  Membership grants you free visits to Explorit’s regular public hours, discounts on events, camps, and workshops, and gives you ASTC benefits.  For more information or to purchase or renew your membership visit www.explorit.org/join/membership-levels or call Explorit at 530-756-0191.

 

  • Enrollment still available for Explorit’s Nature Bowl team.  This is an afterschool science team from students grades 3-6.  Call (530) 756-0191 to register.  The $25 fee covers weekly meetings and a t-shirt.

 

 

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