Human Eye – Human Anatomy and Physiology B. Pharma 1st Semester

Human Eye


At the end of this lecture, student will be able to

• Describe the structural components of eye ball

• Explain the accessory structures of eye ball

• Distinguish between the structural components and the
accessory structures of eye ball

• Describe the interior of the eye ball

• Explain image formation

• Explain the physiology of vision

• Distinguish the changes occurring during light and dark

• Explain the processing of visual signals in retina


• Eye ball

– Structural Component

– Accessory Structures

• Interior of the eye ball

• Image formation

• Physiology of vision

• Light and dark adaptation


• Organ of the sense of sight

• Responsible for the detection of visible light (400-700nm)

• Location – In the orbital cavity; supplied by optic nerve

Accessory Structures of the Eye

• The eyelids

• Eyelashes

• Eyebrows

• The lacrimal apparatus

• Extrinsic eye muscles


• Upper and lower eyelids, or palpebrae

• Shade the eyes during sleep

• Protect eyes from excessive light and foreign objects

• Spread lubricating secretions over the eyeballs

• Upper eyelid more movable than the lower 

• Contains in its superior region the levator palpebrae
superioris muscle

• Palpebral fissure –
space between the upper and lower eyelids that exposes the eyeball

• Angles known as lateral commissure & medial commissure

• Lateral commissure-
narrower and closer to the temporal bone

• Medial commissure-
broader and nearer to the nasal bone

• A small, reddish elevation, the lacrimal caruncle contains
sebaceous (oil) glands and sudoriferous (sweat) glands

From superficial to deep, each eyelid consist of

• Epidermis

• Dermis

• Subcutaneous tissue

• Fibers of the orbicularis oculi muscle

• A tarsal plate –
thick fold of connective tissue; supports eyelid

• Tarsal glands –
Modified sebaceous glands (Meibomian glands)

• Conjunctiva –
Thin, protective mucous membrane composed of non-keratinized stratified
columnar epithelium

• Palpebral
conjunctiva –
lines the inner aspect of the eyelids

• Bulbar conjunctiva
passes from the eyelids onto the surface of the eye ball covers the sclera

and Eyebrows

• Eyelashes –
Project from the border of each eyelid

• Eyebrows – Arch
transversely above the upper eyelids

• Help protect the eyeballs
from –
foreign objects

– Perspiration

– The direct rays of the sun

• Sebaceous ciliary
glands –
Sebaceous glands at the base of the hair follicles of the

• Release a lubricating fluid into the follicles

• Infection of these glands is called a sty

The Lacrimal

A group of structures that produces and drains lacrimal
fluid or tears

Lacrimal glands –
supplied by parasympathetic fibers, facial (VII) nerves

• Lacrimal fluid –
a watery solution has salts, some mucus, lysozyme, a protective bactericidal

• Lacrimation – a
protective mechanism

– The tears dilute and wash away the irritating substance

• Crying –
Excessive lacrimal fluid production by lacrimal glands in response to
parasympathetic stimulation

Eye Muscles

• Extend from the
walls of the bony orbit to the sclera (white) of the eye

• Surrounded in the orbit by periorbital fat

• Capable of moving the eye in almost any direction

Six extrinsic eye muscles move each eye

• Superior rectus

• Inferior rectus

• Lateral rectus

• Medial rectus

• Superior oblique

• Inferior oblique


Extrinsic eye muscles
that move the eyeballs and upper eyelid

• Supplied by cranial nerves III, IV, or VI

• Extrinsic eye muscles move the eyeball laterally,
medially, superiorly, and inferiorly

• Oblique muscles preserve rotational stability of the

• Neural circuits in the brain stem and cerebellum
coordinate and synchronize movements of eye

structures of the eye

Anatomy of
the Eyeball

• Adult eyeball – about 2.5 cm in diameter

• Only anterior one-sixth exposed

• Remainder protected by the orbit

Wall of the eyeball
consists of three layers:

(1) Fibrous tunic (sclera & cornea)

(2) Vascular tunic (choroid, ciliary body, and iris), and

(3) Retina

(1) Fibrous Tunic

• Superficial layer of the eye

• Consists of –

(a) The anterior cornea

(b) Posterior sclera

(a) The cornea

• Transparent coat; covers the colored iris

• Helps focus light
onto the retina as it is curved

• Outer surface – non-keratinized stratified squamous epithelium

• Middle coat – collagen fibers and fibroblasts,

• Inner surface – simple squamous epithelium

(b) The sclera

• The “white” of the eye

• Covers the entire eyeball except the cornea

• Gives shape and rigidity to the eyeball

• Protects its inner parts

• Serves as a site of attachment for the extrinsic eye

• At the junction of
the sclera and cornea is an opening known as the scleral venous sinus (canal of

• A fluid called aqueous humor drains into this sinus

(2) Vascular

• Middle layer of the eye ball

• Composed of three parts:

(a) Choroid

(b) Ciliary body

(c) Iris

(a) Choroid

• Highly vascularized

• Provide nutrients to the posterior surface of the retina

• Contains melanocytes, produce the pigment melanin (dark brown)

• Melanin in the choroid absorbs stray light rays

• Prevent reflection and scattering of light within the

(b) Ciliary body

• Anterior portion of the vascular tunic, the choroid
becomes the ciliary body

Ciliary body consists of:

Ciliary processes

• Protrusions or folds on the internal surface of the
ciliary body

• Extentions from ciliary process, zonular fibres (suspensory
ligaments); attach to lens

Ciliary muscle

• A circular band of smooth muscle

• Changes the tightness of the zonular fibers lters the
shape of the lens dapt lens for near or far vision

(c) Iris

• Iris (= rainbow), the colored portion of the eyeball

• Suspended between the cornea and the lens

• Consists of melanocytes and circular (sphincter pupillae)
and radial smooth muscle fibers (dilator pupillae)

• Amount of melanin in the iris determines the eye color

• Brown to black – large amount of melanin

• Blue – low melanin

• Green – moderate melanin concentration

• Iris regulate the amount of light entering the eyeball
through the pupil

• Autonomic reflexes regulate pupil diameter in response to
light levels

(3) Retina

• Lines the posterior three-quarter of the eyeball

• Is the beginning of the visual pathway

Optic disc –
site, optic (II) nerve exits the eyeball

Central retinal
a branch of the ophthalmic artery, and the central retinal vein are bundled with optic disc

Transverse section of posterior eyeball at optic disc

Retina consists of a
pigmented layer and a neural layer


(sensory) layer

• Sheet of melanin-containing epithelial cells

• Located between the choroid and the neural part of the retina

• Melanin – also helps to absorb stray light rays

• Multilayered outgrowth of the brain

• Processes visual data extensively before sending nerve impulses
into axons that form the optic nerve


Three distinct layers
of retinal neurons

• The photoreceptor layer

• The bipolar cell layer

• The ganglion cell layer

• Separated by two zones, the outer and inner synaptic

• Two other types of cells present in the bipolar cell layer
of the retina are called horizontal cells and amacrine cells


Specialized cells that begin the process of conversion of
light rays to nerve impulses

Two types of photoreceptors: rods and cones

Rods – allow to
see in dim light, such as moonlight

          – do not
provide color vision, only black and white

Cones –
stimulated by brighter lights

            – produce
color vision

• Three types of

               Blue cones- sensitive to
blue light

               Green cones-sensitive to green light

               Red cones –sensitive to red light

Microscopic structure
of the retina

• Optic disc or blind spot, contains no rods or cones

• We cannot see an image that strikes the blind spot

• Macula lutea or yellow spot is in the exact center of the
posterior portion of the retina, at the visual axis of the eye

• Fovea centralis –
Small depression in the center of the macula lutea

                               – Contains only

                               – Area of highest
visual acuity or resolution (sharpness of vision)


• Behind the pupil and iris, within the cavity of the

• In the cells of the lens, proteins called crystallins,
arranged like the layers of an onion

• Make up the refractive media of the lens

• Transparent and lacks blood vessels

• Enclosed by a clear connective tissue capsule

• Held in position by encircling zonular fibers, which attach
to the ciliary processes

• Lens helps focus images on the retina to facilitate clear

Anatomy of the

Interior of
the Eyeball

Lens divides the interior of the eyeball into two cavities: Anterior
cavity and Vitreous chamber

1. Anterior cavity- space
anterior to the lens

Consists of two chambers

• Anterior chamber – between the cornea and the iris

• Posterior chamber – behind iris and in front of zonular
fibers and lens

• Both chambers of the anterior cavity are filled with
aqueous humor

• Transparent watery fluid that nourishes the lens and

• Completely replaced about every 90minutes

2. Vitreous chamber

• Larger posterior cavity of the eyeball

• Lies between the lens and the retina

Vitreous body – a transparent jellylike substance

• Holds the retina flush against the choroid

• Gives the retina an even surface for the reception of
clear images

• Contains
phagocytic cells, remove debris

• Keep the eye clear for unobstructed vision

Intraocular pressure
pressure in the eye

• Produced mainly by aqueous humor and partly by vitreous

• Normally it is about 16 mmHg

• Maintains the shape of the eyeball

• Prevents it from collapsing

Interior of the


Image formation involves 3 processes

(1)  The refraction or
bending of light by the lens and cornea

(2)  Accommodation,
the change in shape of the lens

(3)  Constriction or
narrowing of the pupil

Refraction of light

Refraction is the bending of light rays at the junction of
two transparent substances with different densities


• Increase in the curvature of the lens for near vision, Accommodation

• Viewing a close object, the ciliary muscle contracts,
which pulls the ciliary process and choroid forward toward the lens, become more
spherical (more convex)

• Near point of vision – minimum distance from the eye that
an object can be clearly focused with maximum accommodation

• Distance about 10 cm in a young adult


• In humans, both eyes focus on only one set of objects—a characteristic
called binocular vision

• In convergence, the eyeballs move medially so they are
both directed toward an object being viewed

of Vision

Photoreceptors and
Photo pigments

• Rods and cones have different appearance of the outer

• Rods – cylindrical/ rod-shaped, plasma membrane (PM) form

• Cones – tapered/ cone-shaped, PM folded back and forth

• Photo pigments, integral proteins in the plasma membrane
of the outer segment

• Inner segment – contains the cell nucleus, Golgi complex,
and many mitochondria

Structure of rod and
cone photoreceptors

• Inner segments contain the metabolic machinery for
synthesis of photo pigments and production of ATP

• Transduction of light energy into a receptor potential
occurs in the outer segments of rods and cones


Photo pigment

• A colored protein, undergoes structural changes when it
absorbs light, in the outer segment of a photoreceptor

• Light absorption initiates production of a receptor

• Photo pigment in rods – rhodopsin; in cones – 3 types

• Photo pigments associated with vision contain two parts:

– A glycoprotein, opsin

– A derivative of vitamin A, retinal

• Retinal – light-absorbing part of all visual photo

• In humans, 4 different opsins; 3 in cones; 1 in rods

The cyclical
bleaching and regeneration of photopigment

• Blue arrows indicate bleaching steps

• Black arrows indicate regeneration steps

Light and
Dark Adaptation

Light adaptation—
when emerging from a dark surrounding to sunshine

• Visual system adjusts in seconds to the brighter
environment by decreasing its sensitivity

• As the light level increases, more and more photo pigment

• Other photo pigments regenerate

• Regeneration of rhodopsin is insignificant

• Rods contribute little to daylight vision

• Cone photo pigments regenerate rapidly

Dark adaptation- when
entering a dark room

• Sensitivity increases slowly over many minutes

• Full regeneration of cone photo pigments occurs during the
first 8 min of dark adaptation

• Rhodopsin regenerates more slowly

• Our visual sensitivity increases until even a single
photon (the smallest unit of light) can be detected

• Threshold flashes appear gray-white, regardless of their

Release of Neurotransmitter
by Photoreceptors In darkness

The Visual

Processing of Visual Input in the Retina

• Receptor potentials arise in the outer segments of rods
and cones

• Neurotransmitter molecules released by rods and cones

• Induce local graded potentials in both bipolar cells and
horizontal cells

• Horizontal cells transmit inhibitory signals to bipolar

• Bipolar or amacrine cells transmit excitatory signals to
ganglion cells

• Ganglion cells depolarize and initiate nerve impulses

Brain Pathway and
Visual Fields

• From the thalamus, impulses cerebral cortex (occipital

• Axon collaterals of retinal ganglion cells extend to the midbrain
and hypothalamus

• Everything that can be seen by one eye – Eye’s visual

• We have binocular vision due to the large region where the
visual fields of the two eyes overlap—the binocular visual field

Visual field of each eye is divided into two regions:

a)   The nasal or
central half

b)   The temporal or
peripheral half

• Light rays from an object in the nasal half of the visual
field fall on the temporal half of the retina, and vice versa

• Visual information from the right half of each visual
field is conveyed to the left side of the brain, and vice versa

Transverse section
through eyeballs and brain

The visual pathway


• Eye is the organ of the sense of sight

• Eye is situated in the orbital cavity supplied by optic

• Accessory structure of eye ball – eyelids, Eyelashes,
Eyebrows, Lacrimal apparatus, extrinsic eye muscles

• Eyelashes & eyebrows protects the eye ball

• Lacrimal apparatus produces and drains lacrimal fluid or

• Extrinsic eye muscle moving the eye in almost any

• Wall of the eyeball consists of – fibrous tunic (sclera
and cornea), vascular tunic (choroid, ciliary body, and iris), and retina

• Lens helps focus images on the retina to facilitate clear

• Lens divides the interior of the eyeball into anterior
cavity and the vitreous chamber

• Anterior cavity consists of anterior and posterior chamber

• Image formation involves – refraction of light,
accommodation and convergence

• Cyclic bleaching and regeneration of photo pigments helps
in vision

• Light adaptation occur when emerging from a dark
surrounding to sunshine

• Dark adaptation occur when entering a dark surrounding

• Visual field of each eye consists of nasal region and
temporal region

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