Larson Eye Center
Anatomy of the Eye

The eye has been called the most complex organ in the body. Some physicians even go so far as to call it “the most important square inch of the body”. It's amazing that something so small can have so many working parts. But when you consider how difficult the task of providing vision really is, perhaps it's no wonder after all.

See the diagram below for their definitions.

Anatomy of the Eye

The eye is like a camera. It lets light in through the cornea, which is like a camera's opening. The amount of light allowed in is controlled by the pupil, which opens and closes a bit like a shutter. The light focuses on the retina, which sends the image to the brain, acting as film would in order to record the light (the photo itself).

Other eye structures support the main activity of sight. Some carry fluids - tears and blood - to lubricate or nourish the eye. Others are muscles that allow the eye to move. Some protect the eye from injury - lids and the epithelium of the cornea. And some are messengers, sending sensory information to the brain - pain-sensing nerves in the cornea and the optic nerve behind the retina.

List of definitions:

Anterior Chamber

The space in front of the iris and behind the cornea.


The thin, moist tissue that lines the inner surfaces of the eyelids and the outer surface of the sclera (the outer layer of the eyeball).


Serving to transmit light to the eye, the cornea is a transparent tissue that covers the front surface of the eye.


The colored ring of tissue suspended behind the cornea and immediately in front of the lens. It regulates the amount of light entering the eye by adjusting the size of the pupil.


The small, sensitive area of the central retina, providing vision for fine work and reading.

Optic Nerve

The bundle of more than a million nerve fibers that carry visual messages from the retina to the brain.

Posterior Chamber

Filled with aqueous fluid, the space between the back of the iris and the front face of the vitreous.


Often compared with the shutter of a camera, the pupil is the black, circular "hole" in the iris that regulates the amount of light entering the eye. The pupil appears black and the contents beyond it dark because of the absence of light inside the eye, similar to the way a dark room looks when viewed from a lighted one.

By using a special instrument called an ophthalmoscope, eye doctors are able to examine the inside of the eye.


The retina is the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eyeball, sending visual impulses through the optic nerve to the brain.


The tough, white, outer layer (coat) of the eyeball. Along with the cornea, it protects the entire eyeball.

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