Seeing is Believing – (un)believable eye facts

By Miro Cafolla, Postgraduate and International Tutor on a night of science in St John’s on Monday 26 November 2018

For the very first event of the 2018/19 Café Scientifique series, Professor Roy Quinlan (Department of Biosciences) delivered a fascinating talk on the biological mechanisms behind visual perception.

Professor Quinlan started his talk by highlighting that vision is arguably the most important of our five senses and our world and its activities rely heavily on visual methods for communication. The eye is, indeed, said to be the window to our soul.

Given this, how do we “see”?

The answer is through a combination of the mechanical components of the eye, such as the lens and retina, and the brain which processes the information that the eye receives. In many cases, the brain has the largest influence on our vision, since everyone sees in a different way. This is also why we should be careful when listening to the reports of eyewitnesses.

A fragment of the lens membrane imaged with Atomic Force Microscopy. The white scale bar is 10 nm.

The lens of the eye still plays a major role as it focuses the image on the retina – the light sensitive part of the eye. Professor Quinlan explored, then, how an eye lens is made in different biological organisms and how it manages to grow old gracefully, but retain its image-focusing capability.

The talk was a stimulating opportunity, helping the audience “see” the eye for what it is – an elegant, effective tissue – whilst at the same time highlighting areas that challenge our scientific understanding.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s