Anatomy of an Eye

Anatomy, Physiology and
Pathology of the Human Eye
Ted M. Montgomery,
Optometric Physician
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A short film, created in 1941, provides an excellent overview of the anatomy and physiology of the human eye.  This black-and-white video is 11 minutes in length:

How the Eye Functions
How the Eye Functions

Click on a term in the eye graphics below to read a definition of it in the Glossary of Ocular Terms.  From there, in some cases, you can link to more information.



  1 posterior compartment
  2 ora serrata
  3 ciliary muscle
  4 ciliary zonules
  5 canal of Schlemm
  6 pupil
  7 anterior chamber
  8 cornea
  9 iris
10 lenticular cortex
11 lenticular nucleus
12 ciliary process
13 conjunctiva
14 inferior oblique muscle
15 inferior rectus muscle
16 medial rectus muscle
17 retinal arteries / veins
18 optic disc
19 dura mater
20 central retinal artery
21 central retinal vein
22 optic nerve
23 vorticose vein
24 bulbar sheath
25 macula lutea
26 fovea centralis
27 sclera
28 choroid
29 superior rectus muscle
30 retina


The eye manifests its refractive power via several curved surfaces, each separated by media with different indices of refraction. The most significant refractive surfaces are the anterior and posterior cornea and the anterior and posterior crystalline lens.

In the emmetropic eye (which has no refractive error), the range of corneal refracting power is between 39 and 48 diopters, while the range of lenticular refracting power is between 15 and 24 diopters.  In the emmetropic eye, the axial length (from the posterior corneal surface to the retina) varies from 22 to 26 millimeters, or approximately an inch.

The following are the clear ocular media and structures (through which light passes before it reaches the retina) and their respective indices of refraction:

pre-corneal tear film
cornea
aqueous humor
crystalline lens
vitreous humor
    1.3375
1.3760
1.3360
1.4100
1.3360

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Copyright 1998 by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D.  Most rights reserved.