boy eye

Parts of the eye

The different parts of the eye all play an important role.  This section briefly describes the main parts and how they work.

Image showing the anatomy of the eye


The conjunctiva is a mucous membrane that covers the exposed front portion of the sclera and lines the inside of the eyelids.


The cornea is the transparent membrane which forms the outer coating at the front of the eyeball and covers the iris and pupil. It also focuses light on the retina.


The iris is the coloured circle surrounding the pupil. It changes the size of the pupil and allows different amounts of light to enter the eye. When people ask you what colour your eyes are, they mean what is the colour of your iris. The majority of the outer surface of everyone’s eye is white! (This is the sclera).


The lens is a transparent structure behind the iris, the coloured part of the eye. The lens bends light rays so that they form a clear image at the back of the eye – on the retina. As the lens is elastic, it can change shape, getting fatter to focus close objects and thinner for distant objects.


The macula is the small area at the centre of the retina responsible for what we see straight in front of us, at the centre of our field of vision. The macula is very important as it gives us the vision needed for detailed activities such as reading and writing, and the ability to appreciate colour.


The pupil is the dark circular hole in the centre of the iris which allows light to enter the retina.


The retina is the light-sensitive inner lining of the back of the eye. Imagine that the eye is like a non-digital camera, and the retina is the film. Rays of light enter the eye and are focused on the retina by the cornea and lens. The retina produces an image which is sent along the optic nerve for the brain to interpret, rather like developing a camera film.


The sclera is the white of the eye and forms the outer coating of the eyeball.


The vitreous is the clear, jelly-like substance that fills the inside of the eye from the lens to the retina.