When you look in the mirror, you see your eyes staring back at you. Ever wonder what’s behind your eyeballs? What are the different parts of your eye, and what’s the unique function of each part?
Whether you visit our Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye care center because you need new glasses or a check-up of your ocular health, you’ll need an eye exam near you. Our eye doctor will inspect all the parts of your eye closely. Here’s a rundown of what we’re looking at.
The Parts of Your Eye & Their Functions
Your eye is shaped like an asymmetrical sphere, with a diameter of approximately one inch. The parts you see in the mirror are:
- Pupil – This black dot (actually, it’s a hole) in the middle of your eye is an opening in the iris that allows light to enter.
- Iris – This is the area of your eye that surrounds the pupil and has the pigment that gives color to your eye. The muscles of the iris make the pupil wider or narrower depending on how bright it is. When it’s darker, your pupils dilate (get big) to allow more light into the eye; when it’s bright, the pupils constrict (get small) to help you see efficiently.
- Cornea – This is the outer covering of the front of your eye, like a clear dome over the iris and pupil; it’s relatively strong and consists of several layers. The cornea protects your eye from elements that could damage the inner eye and also allows your eye to effectively focus light.
- Sclera – Better known as the “white” of your eye, the sclera presents as a smooth, white layer on the outside, but it has a brown textured inside that helps the eyes’ tendons to attach properly. The sclera is responsible for the structure and protection of the inner eye structures, but it is also flexible so the eye can move.
- Conjunctiva – The inside of the eyelids and the white of the eye are covered by the conjunctiva, which is made up of thin layers of tissue that help to keep the eye moist and clean. If the conjunctiva gets infected or irritated, you’ll develop “pink eye.”
- Lacrimal glands – These tear-producing glands are situated on the outer corner of each eye. They lubricate your eye when it is dry, and flush out particles or substances that irritate the eye.
- Lens – The lens is a clear structure that rests just behind the iris and the pupil. It focuses the light that enters through the pupil. Held in place by the ciliary muscles, the lens changes shape depending on what you’re looking at. That’s how you are able to focus on objects at different distances.
- Vitreous humor – This clear gel fills most of the eye, from behind the lens to the retina at the back of the eye, helping the eyeball to hold its shape. When debris or clumps of cells get stuck in the vitreous humor, you will see “floaters.”
- Aqueous humor – This transparent watery substance fills the front part of the eyeball, supporting the eye’s round, taut shape, and maintaining intraocular pressure: that’s kind of like blood pressure, but it’s in your eye. And, like high blood pressure, high intraocular pressure is also dangerous, resulting in glaucoma and vision loss.
- Retina – Light enters through your pupil and lens to the back of your eye, to the retina. The retina is made of layers of light-sensing cells, rods and cones, that convert light into electrical impulses. Behind the eye, your optic nerve then transmits these impulses to the brain for interpretation into images. In the middle of the retina is the macula, a small, extra-sensitive area that provides your central vision.
If you’re having trouble seeing clearly or it’s time for your regular eye exam, book an appointment with our Washington, D.C., District of Columbia, eye doctor. We’ll evaluate your eye health and vision; if you need new eyeglasses, check out our quality optical collection!
At Washington Eye Doctors, we put your family's needs first. Talk to us about how we can help you maintain healthy vision. Call us today: 202-335-5032 or book an appointment online to see one of our Washington, D.C. eye doctors.
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