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A crash course on what makes up our eyes

18 January 2016


You can look into the mirror and recognise your eyes staring back at you, and there’s a fairly good chance you learned about things like the pupil in biology at school, but how well do you really know the part of your body that lets you see the world around you?

Most people don’t question the miracle of sight, which allows you to see colours and depth, to read books and watch movies, and to look out at a sunrise in wonderment and awe. We barely even notice the blinks that we take throughout the day – most of us average a massive 15-20 times a minute without noticing, meaning that you could blink a total of 28,800 times a day and not even be realising it!

The eye works in conjunction with the brain to create one complete image, but when an optometrist or ophthalmologist looks into your eyes they see each individual part, all of which have been listed below:

Sclera –

This is the white of your eye. A tough membrane that helps protect the sensitive areas, the sclera is composed of collagen (thick protein) and elastic fibres.

Cornea –

The front surface of the eye. The cornea means that while an eye may look like a ball, or orb, it actually has a domed protrusion at the front which is transparent and allows light into the eye. It then focuses this light and directs it to sections of the eye. The closest similarity is between a cornea and a camera lens, which acts as the first line in the production of the image. While the eye has a lot of blood vessels, the cornea itself has none, simply existing off tears and fluids at the front of the eye.

Anterior chamber –

Behind the cornea lies the anterior chamber, a cushioned area full of fluid that protects the eye. Sometimes blockages can form in this area of the eye, which results in glaucoma, a condition that prevents flow into and out of the eye and creating pressure that can lead to blindness across the entire system.

Iris –

This is the main part of the eye that people can see – this is the colour inside the eye that is visible to those that are looking in. The iris surrounds the pupil, and changes shape around it to let light in as needed in certain conditions.

Pupil –

Inside the iris lies the pupil, the dark spot in the very center of your eye. This is where light enters the inner portion of the system, and acts as a gateway once light has cleared the cornea and the anterior chamber.

Lens –

Behind all of these outer layers of the eye is the lens itself. When light comes through the cornea and the pupil, it hits the curved surface of the lens, which focuses into the retina at the back of the eye. The main problem that arises with cataracts is the clouding of the lens, meaning that cataract surgery is often require to go through the cornea and taking apart the clouded up lens, replacing it with a clear implant that cannot darken.

Vitreous chamber & retina – The retina lies behind the vitreous chamber, an area that is made up of a gel-like substance that gives the eye its overall structure and shape. While most of the eye is fluid-like, the vitreous gel means that it can remain a solid shape. Past this solid section of the eye, the retina processes information and sends it to the brain for interpretation – from there, your mind is on its own.

The optic nerve – This is the systems that sends electrical impulses to our nervous system, to create meaning out of sensation. This can include being exposed to high levels of light and feeling the pain within your eye. All these transmissions also happen faster than we can truly comprehend, and therefore can be considered instantaneous.


All these sections come together to allow us sight, and if one part of the system fails then it’s like a series of gates that has one in the series barred shut – you can’t pass through the entire path if there’s a blockage or a damage section.


If you think you’re suffering from one of the afflictions to the eye that could mean that your sight isn’t working as well as it should be, call Hunter Laser Vision on 1800 44 20 20 at any time and speak to one of our medical professionals and solutions and steps forward.

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RANZCO - The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists - The Leaders in Collaborative Eye Care
ASO - Australian Society of Ophthalmologists

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