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THE EYES HAVE ITTHE EYES HAVE IT
VISUAL BASICS

What is Vision?
Simple Eyes
The Brain and Eye
The Single-Lens Eye
Anatomy of a Single-Lens Eye
The Compound Eye
Anatomy of a Compound Eye

The Eyes Have It

The Compound Eye

Robber Fly -- Photograph Copyright 2002 Bob ParksMost invertebrates -- crustaceans and insects -- have compound eyes. A compound eye is made up of many separate units called ommatidia (singular: ommatidium). Each unit has its own surface area, lens, and optic nerve fiber. It receives light from a small part of the animals field of view. The animal's brain integrates these views into a single image.

An insect's compound eyes bulge out and have a wide field of view. The lenses in compound eyes can't change focus, so insects can't see things that are far away. However, most things that concern an insect are up close and personal. The compound eye is very good at seeing things nearby and detecting motion, as anyone who's tried to swat a fly knows.

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Photo credit: Dragongly ©  Bob Parks

The Eyes Have It | Kids' Habitat

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