The Eye   


The eyeball is located in a bony socket called the orbit, where it is suspended and surrounded by fat and blood vessels together with motor and sensory nerves, including the optic nerve. Six small muscles are attached to each eye enabling coordinated movement of the pair. The adult human eye is approximately 2.5 cm in diameter.


• The Sclera - The white outer part of the eye. It is a tough external coat. Six muscles attached to the sclera enable the eye to look up, down and side-to-side. Part of the sclera forms a clear window, the cornea, through which light gets into the eye.

• The Cornea - The clear outer part of the eye's focusing system located at the front of the eye. Most of the bending of the light rays (refraction) occurs at the cornea. The lens also bends the light but to a lesser extent. The lens does a sort of fine tuning to insure that the image is sharply focused on the retina.

• Aqueous Humor - The clear watery fluid filling the anterior chamber of the eye between the cornea and the lens. It has the benefit of being fairly homogenous and, the optical properties are easily measured. The space that it inhabits is called the anterior chamber.

• Vitreous Humor - The clear gel filling the posterior chamber of the eye between the lens and the retina. The space that it fills is called the vitreous body.

• The Pupil - The opening at the center of the iris. The iris adjusts the size of the pupil and controls the amount of light that can enter the eye.

• The Iris - The colored tissue behind the cornea - color varies from pale blue to dark brown.

• The Choroid - A spongy layer filled with blood vessels. It lies between the sclera and the retina. The choroid nourishes the outer layers of the retina.

• The Conjunctiva - The transparent mucous membrane lining the inside of the eyelids and the white of the eyeball.

• The Macula - The small sensitive area of the retina that gives central vision; contains the fovea. This foveal area is covered with a yellow pigment called the macula lutea.

• The Optic Nerve - The bundle of over one million nerve fibers that carries visual messages from the retina to the brain.

• The Fovea - The center of the macula; gives the sharpest vision. When we fixate or look directly at an object it is imaged on the fovea.

• The Lens - The lens is the clear part of the eye behind the iris that helps to focus light on the retina. The lens helps to focus on both far and near objects so that they are perceived clearly and sharply. The ciliary muscle helps to change the shape of the lens. This changing of lens shape is called accommodation.

The lens itself is a multilayered structure (something like an onion). In young people it is normally perfectly clear and quite elastic. As one ages its elasticity is reduced. In fact after the age of about 45 the lens' ability to change in shape is considerably reduced. That is why people over the age of 45 almost always require glasses to read and/or to see distant objects. It is not unusual for people in their 50's and older to wear bi-focal or even tri-focal lenses.

As one gets older the lens can also become cloudy. This condition is called cataract. When cataracts become too severe the lens has to be removed and be replaced with an artificial lens. Of course the artificial lens is not capable of accommodation. However, by the time most people are afflicted with cataracts they will already be old enough so that they will have naturally lost most of their accommodation. Also as one ages the lens becomes more yellow. People in their 50s will, for example, exhibit clearly lower spectral sensitivities at the short wavelength end of the spectrum than 10 year olds.

• The Ciliary Body - The Ciliary Body consists of bundles of tiny muscles used in accommodation. When the ciliary muscle is relaxed, the choroid acts like a spring pulling on the lens via the zonule fibers causing the lens to become flat. When the ciliary muscle contracts, it stretches the choroid, releasing the tension on the lens and the lens becomes thicker.

• The Retina - The light-sensitive tissue lining the back of the eyeball; sends electrical impulses to the brain. On the right is a photo of what an eye-care person sees when looking at your retina with an ophthalmoscope. The dark area near the center is the fovea . This area is actually a depression in the retina. Although this photo does not show it, the foveal area has a yellow pigmentation called the macula lutea. When we fixate (look directly at) objects, images of these objects are projected on to the fovea. It is the retinal location of our best visual acuity and color vision.
The the optic disc is the place where all the blood vessels and optic nerves converge and go out of the retina to the brain. The optic disc, also called the blind spot, is where the axons of the ganglion cells leave the retina to form the optic nerve.

It is called the blind spot because there are no rod or cone receptors in this part of the retina and we can not see objects that are imaged on this part of the retina.


Sight is our most precious sense, and any diminution of it is truly regrettable. Our eyes alone save us from perpetual darkness, and they fill our lives with all the glory of creation. They enable us to scan the vast sweep of the universe a million light years away, or examine the minute details of a flower held in the hand.
Our eyes are wondrous devices that we often take for granted, too often fail to protect, and rarely understand.

It is important that you develop a good relationship with your eye care practitioner, because you may be seeing a great deal of him or her over a long period of time. You should have confidence in him/her and find it comfortable to ask questions.

Eye care practitioners are often very busy, but they should never be too busy to discuss your case with you. Find an eye care practitioner with whom you are comfortable then stay with him/her.

Your eye care practitioner needs your cooperation. He/she has no control over what happens between office visits, you have. Think of him/her as a partner in the care of your eyes, but remember that you are primarily responsible for your own welfare. He/she is a resource person, a consultant who will prescribe a program of treatment and /or the medications to be used in that program.

Implementing the program is up to you. If you do not care diligently for your eyes it is unrealistic to expect anyone else to do so.

Surgery is normally suggested only if you cannot see well enough with your contact lenses to drive or function in your work, or if you are unable to wear contact lenses. If you are not sure about surgery when it is recommended, seek a second, independent opinion.

If your eye care practitioner advises you to see him/her again at a certain time, keep the appointment. There is a good reason for it, and if you wonder what it is, ask them.

Inform any physicians that you may be seeing about any eye problem and any medication you are taking. Be alert to any changes in your eye condition or in your vision. If you experience blurring, scratchiness, irritation, watering or any discharge, you must contact your eye care practitioner immediately. This may signal a problem with your eyes' tolerance of your contact lenses or the need for refitting.

You should, or course, take normal care of your eyes and avoid the use of any substance that is not prescribed by your eye care practitioner.


Mukilteo Vision Clinic - 8601 Mukilteo Speedway, Mukilteo, WA 98275 (425) 513-9186