Light and Eyes


This topic gives an overview of; 

  • What is inside Our Eyes?
  • Care of Eyes
  • Visually Challenged Person's ability to read and write
  • Braille System

What is inside Our Eyes?

We see things only when light coming from them enters our eyes. Eye is one of our most important sense organs. It is, therefore, important to understand its structure and working.

The eye has a roughly spherical shape. Outer coat of the eye is white. It is tough so that it can protect the interior of the eye from accidents. Its transparent front part is called cornea. Behind the cornea, we find a dark muscular structure called iris. In the iris, there is a small opening called the pupil. The size of the pupil is controlled by the iris. The iris is the part of that eye which gives it its distinctive colour. When we say that a person has green eyes, we refer actually to the colour of the iris. The iris controls the amount of light entering into the eye. Let us see how.

Look into your friend's eye. Observe the size of the pupil. Throw light on her eye with a torch. Observe the pupil now. Switch off the torch, and observe her pupil once again. Do you notice any change in the size of the pupil? In which case was the pupil larger? Why do you think it was so?

In which case do you need to allow more light in the eye, when the light is dim or bright?

Behind the pupil of the eye is a lens which is thicker in the centre. What kind of lens is thicker at the centre?  The lens focuses light on the back of the eye, on a layer called retina . Retina contains several nerve cells. Sensations felt by the nerve cells are then transmitted to the brain through the optic nerve.

There are two kinds of cells

  1. cones, which are sensitive to bright light and
  2. rods, which are sensitive to dim light.

Besides, cones sense colour. At the junction of the optic nerve and the retina, there are no sensory cells, so no vision is possible at that spot. This is called the blind spot. Its existence can be demonstrated as follows:

Make a round mark and a cross on a sheet of paper with the spot to the right of the cross. The distance between two marks may be 6-8 cm. Hold the sheet of paper at arms length from the eye. Close your left eye. Look continuously at the cross. Move the sheet slowly towards you, keeping your eye on the cross. What do you find? Does the round mark disappear at some point? Now close your right eye. Look at the round mark now and repeat the activity. Does the cross disappear? The disappearance of the cross or the round mark shows that there is a point on the retina which cannot send messages to the brain when light falls on it.

The impression of an image does not vanish immediately from the retina. It persists there for about 1/16th of a second. So, if still images of a moving object are flashed on the eye at a rate faster than 16 per second, then the eye perceives this object as moving.

Get a square piece of cardboard of side 6-8 cm. Make two holes. Thread a string through the two holes. Draw/ paste a cage on one side of the cardboard and a bird on the other side. Twist the string and make the card twirl rapidly. Do you see the bird in the cage?

The movies that we see are actually a number of separate pictures in proper sequence. They are made to move across the eye usually at the rate of 24 pictures per second (faster than 16 per second). So, we see a moving picture.

Nature has provided eyes with eyelids to protect from any object entering the eye. Eyelids also shut out light when not required.

Eye is such a wonderful instrument that it (normal) can see distant objects as well near objects clearly. The minimum distance at which the eye can see objects distinctly varies with age. The most comfortable distance at which one can read with a normal eye is about 25 cm.

Some persons can see near objects clearly but cannot see distant objects so clearly. On the other hand, some persons cannot see near objects clearly but they can see distant objects quite well. With suitable corrective lenses, these defects of the eye can be corrected.

Sometimes, particularly in old age, eyesight becomes foggy. It is due to the eye lens becoming cloudy. When it happens, persons are said to have cataract. There is a loss of vision, sometimes extremely severe. It is possible to treat this defect. The opaque lens is removed and a new artificial lens is inserted. Modern technology has made this procedure simpler and safer.

Care of Eyes

It is necessary that you take proper care of your eyes. If there is any problem you should go to an eye specialist. Have a regular checkup.

  • If advised, use suitable spectacles.
  • Too little or too much light is bad for eyes. Insufficient light causes eyestrain and headaches. Too much light, like that of the sun, a powerful lamp or a laser torch can injure the retina.
  • Do not look at the sun or a powerful light directly.
  • Never rub your eyes. If particles of dust go into your eyes, wash your eyes with clean water. If there is no improvement go to a doctor.
  • Wash your eyes frequently with clean water. Always read at the normal distance for vision. Do not read by bringing
    your book too close to your eyes or keeping it too far.

You learnt about balanced diet in previous classes. If food is deficient in some components, eye may also suffer. Lack of vitamin A in foodstuff is responsible for many eye troubles. Most common amongst them is night blindness.

One should, therefore, include in the diet components which have vitamin A. Raw carrots, broccoli and green vegetables (such as spinach) and cod liver oil are rich in vitamin A. Eggs, milk, curd, cheese, butter and fruits such as papaya and mango are also rich in vitamin A.

Visually Challenged Persons Can Read and Write

Some persons, including children, can be visually handicapped. They have very limited vision to see things. Some persons cannot see at all since birth. Some persons may lose their eyesight because of a disease. Such persons try to identify things by touching and listening to voices more carefully. They develop their other senses more sharply. However, additional resources can enable them to develop their capabilities further.

Resources can be of two types : Non-optical aids and optical aids. Non-optical aids include visual aids, tactual aids (using the sense of touch), auditory aids (using the sense of hearing) and electronic aids. Visual aids, can magnify words, can provide suitable intensity of light and material at proper distances. Tactual aids, including Braille writer slate and stylus, help the visually challenged persons in taking notes, reading and writing. Auditory aids include cassettes, tape recorders, talking books and other such devices. Electronic aids, such as talking calculators, are also available for performing many computational tasks. Closed circuit television, also an electronic aid, enlarges printed material with suitable contrast and illumination. Nowadays, use of audio CDs and voice boxes with computers are also very helpful for listening to and writing the desired text.

Optical aids include bifocal lenses, contact lenses, tinted lenses, magnifiers and telescopic aids. While the lens combinations are used to rectify visual limitations,telescopic aids are available to view chalkboard and class demonstrations.

What is a Braille System?

The most popular resource for visually challenged persons is known as Braille. The present system was adopted in 1932. There is Braille code for common languages, mathematics and scientific notation. Many Indian languages can be read using the Braille system.

Braille system has 63 dot patterns or characters. Each character represents a letter, a combination of letters, a common word or a grammatical sign. Dots are arranged in cells of two vertical rows of three dots each.

Patterns of dots to represent some English alphabets and some common words are shown below.

These patterns when embossed on Braille sheets help visually challenged to recognise words by touching. To make them easier to touch, the dots are raised slightly.

Visually challenged people learn the Braille system by beginning with letters, then special characters and letter combinations. Methods depend upon recognition by touching. Each character has to be memorised. Braille texts can be produced by hand or by machine. Type writer - like devices and printing machines have now been developed.


  • Important parts of the eye are cornea, iris, pupil, lens, retina and optic nerve.
  • A normal eye can see nearby and distant objects clearly.
  • Visually challenged persons can read and write using Braille system.
  • Visually challenged persons develop their other senses more sharply to improve their interaction with their environment.


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