The Eye: A Very Short Introduction

Front Cover
OUP Oxford, 2014 - Science - 105 pages
The eye is one of the most remarkable achievements of evolution, and has evolved up to 40 times in different parts of the animal kingdom. In humans, vision is one of the most important senses, and much of the brain is given over to the processing of visual information.

In this Very Short Introduction, Michael Land describes the evolution of vision and the variety of eyes found in both humans and animals. He explores the evolution of color vision in primates, and the workings of the human eye to consider how it contributes to our visual ability. He explains how we
see in three dimensions and the basic principles of visual perception, including our impressive capacity for pattern recognition and the ability of vision to guide action.

About the Series:
Oxford's Very Short Introductions series offers concise and original introductions to a wide range of subjects--from Islam to Sociology, Politics to Classics, Literary Theory to History, and Archaeology to the Bible. Not simply a textbook of definitions, each volume in this series provides trenchant
and provocative--yet always balanced and complete--discussions of the central issues in a given discipline or field. Every Very Short Introduction gives a readable evolution of the subject in question, demonstrating how the subject has developed and how it has influenced society. Eventually, the
series will encompass every major academic discipline, offering all students an accessible and abundant reference library. Whatever the area of study that one deems important or appealing, whatever the topic that fascinates the general reader, the Very Short Introductions series has a handy and
affordable guide that will likely prove indispensable.


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Our eyes are some of our most precious and prized organs. We receive more information about the world using the sense of vision, than all of the other senses combined. Eye is also a very complex organ, and its complicated structure has fascinated biologists for as long as we have been studying the natural world in a systematic way.
This little book gives a surprisingly detailed glimpse at the nature of eye. It provides the reader with a fairly extensive information about the evolutionary development of the sense of vision, and the variety of eye shapes and mechanisms found in nature. The bulk of the book, unsurprisingly, focuses on mammalian eyes, and human eyes in particular. It covers the nature of vision - how the image is formed in the eye, and the cells and biological mechanisms of vision. It also covers the visual system as a whole, especially how the visual information is processed in the brain. The book also covers the vision defects and impairments, many of which are associated with the aging. I particularly appreciated a brief overview of some of the more advanced technologies that are now helping people with visual impairments see. I wish I could learn more about such topics, and am going to seek out further reading resources that deal with this issue.
The book is overall very informative and written in a very systematic and clear way. however, the prose tends to be a bit cut and dry. This is not the most scintillating popular science book that I have come across, but have nevertheless learned a lot from it. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the eye in a systematic way.


The first eyes
Making better eyes
The human eye
The moving eye
The third dimension
Seeing and the brain
When vision fails
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About the author (2014)

Michael F. Land is Emeritus Professor of Neurobiology at the University of Sussex and is a world-renowned authority on animal vision. He co-authored the text Animal Eyes (OUP, 2002, 2nd edition 2012) with Dan-Eric Nilsson and another on human eye movements, Looking and Acting, with Ben Tatler (OUP, 2009). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society.

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