From cornea to retinal image in invertebrate eyes

Trends Neurosci. 1990 Feb;13(2):55-64. doi: 10.1016/0166-2236(90)90069-m.


The optical information processing that takes place in an eye involves a large variety of very different optical components that are put together to solve a task which, in its basic nature, does not differ much from one species to another. The principal task of an eye is to sort the incoming photons so that they excite specific sensory neurons depending on angle of incidence, wavelength and plane of polarization. Despite the apparent simplicity of the task, the solutions to it are often complex and the variation between species is enormous. The pinhole camera, the Keplerian and Galilean telescopes, the corner reflector, optical fibres, and interference filters, are all names of optical devices invented by man. It now appears that all of these devices, and many more, exist in various combinations in the optics of invertebrate eyes. The similarity between man's and nature's optical engineering has been useful in many ways. For the study of eyes, it has helped to understand biological design principles in unparalleled detail.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cornea / physiology*
  • Invertebrates / physiology*
  • Optical Devices
  • Optics and Photonics
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Visual Pathways / physiology