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What Does The Eye Really See?

Updated on April 30, 2013
What does the human eye really see?
What does the human eye really see?

The Human Eye Is Amazing

There is no denying the fact that the human eye is an amazing organ. Without question, they are the most sensitive and delicate organ we have, and perhaps the most misunderstood.

They are the 'window to our soul', our window in which we view the world, and are responsible for a majority of all the information that our brain receives.

Of our five senses, touch-taste-smell-sight-hear, eyesight is relied on more than any other.

Interestingly, our eyes are the same size from birth despite the fact that they can change color. Our nose and ears continue to grow as we do.

With over 2 million working parts, the human eye is incredibly complex.

How does the human eye work and does the eye really see?

The Human Eye Structure And Function

Our eyes are a complex organ. Did you know that the 'things' we see are actually made from reflected light; light that is reflected off images and objects that we view?

The human eye is made up of many components; the cornea and retina are most commonly known but in many cases not completely understood. We do know that the cornea is curved and when light enters our eyes through the cornea, light actually bends. As a result the image we 'see' is flipped upside down and lands this way on our retina.

The retina has a very small surface area and is made up of many cells; namely cones and rods. There are actually three different cones (cells) which each help us to see during the day by reacting to red, green and blue lightwaves. Thanks to cones, we are able to 'see' images in color. The other component of the retina are rods. These assist with our night vision only because they recognise light but not color.

Cleverly designed signals send these images to our brain and our brain then turns the image around so it is the right way up again.

Does the eye see color?
Does the eye see color?

Eyes - do they really 'see'?

Our eyes do not see anything.

Just about this for a moment. Our eyes do not actually send 'images' to our brain. Images are constructed in our brain are based information received, based on light signals. We rely on the nerve signals from our eyes to recognise shapes and motion.

'Seeing' is a very complex brain function and therefore a huge percentage of our brain's resources are busy doing nothing other than recognising what is around us.

Research has shown that we dont 'see' colour in the world but our brains have evolved to turn light waves into colors.

Could this be why most animal species are colour blind.

Color only exists because we make it.

How the eye works

Seeing is really only pattern recognition. Our brain forms images based on pattern recognition.

Images aren't seen either. Our brain interprets light signals and attempts to recognise to what the lines and motions might represent, then they cleverly allow us to perceive whatever that object might be.

Bit confusing?

Pattern recognition is learned as we grow. When we are babies, nothing makes sense to us and then as we grow and our knowledge increases, we learn about the world around us and we begin to make sense of it all. As adults, we rarely have instances where we can't recognise something. Just about all of the computations between light signals and what that object actually is have been learnt.

Consider that for a moment.


So if it is our brain that actually 'sees', the question is, what is really out there?

If this 'reality' is only a frequency from which the mind builds these images of objects then how do we really know what is real and what is not?

Our perception of the world is the brain’s best guess at what is actually happening, based on the information it receives through the five senses and what we have been taught.

As an example, optical illusions demonstrate that the brain does not always interpret information correctly.

The mystery of the human eye deepens.

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