Compensation for longitudinal chromatic aberration in the eye of the firefly squid, Watasenia scintillans

Vision Res. 2004;44(18):2129-34. doi: 10.1016/j.visres.2004.04.004.


The camera eyes of fishes and cephalopods have come forth by convergent evolution. In a variety of vertebrates capable of color vision, longitudinal chromatic aberration (LCA) of the optical system is corrected for by the exactly tuned longitudinal spherical aberration (LSA) of the crystalline lens. The LSA leads to multiple focal lengths, such that several wavelengths can be focused on the retina. We investigated whether that is also the case in the firefly squid (Watasenia scintillans), a cephalopod species that is likely to have color vision. It was found that the lens of W. scintillans is virtually free of LSA and uncorrected for LCA. However, the eye does not suffer from LCA because of a banked retina. Photoreceptors sensitive to short and long wavelengths are located at appropriate distances from the lens, such that they receive well-focused images. Such a design is an excellent solution for the firefly squid because a large area of the retina is monochromatically organized and it allows for double use of the surface area in the dichromatically organized part of the retina. However, it is not a universal solution since compensation for LCA by a banked retina requires that eye size and/or spectral separation between photopigments is small.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Biometry
  • Color Perception / physiology*
  • Decapodiformes / anatomy & histology
  • Decapodiformes / physiology*
  • Lens, Crystalline / anatomy & histology
  • Lens, Crystalline / physiology*
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Refraction, Ocular / physiology*
  • Retina / physiology