Of all our senses, eyesight may be the one we count on the most. We use our eyes to play, learn and explore our world. It’s important to be sure that our eyes are the best they can be!
In the Kid’s Zone, SJEA will present fun and interesting eyesight-related information for children—both young and old.
Eye See You At The Zoo
SJEA is very fond of Bridgeton’s very own Cohanzick Zoo and is a great supporter of their “Boo at the Zoo” event, having been a name sponsor for the last eight years. When we first started this relationship, SJEA created the “Eye See You at the Zoo” program, an ongoing learning celebration on our website for children to learn more about the amazing world of eyesight—theirs and animals, too!
Check back often to find out what’s new at “Eye See You at the Zoo!”
Do insects have good eyesight?
The eyes of insects are very different from ours. Most insects—like the bee, butterfly, and beetle—have compound eyes, which means their eyes are divided into many sections each with its own little lens. Some insects, like ants, have as few as six lenses. The dragonfly has the most complex compound eye with as many as 30,000 lenses in each eye! A compound eye isn’t good at seeing detail or making out shapes. A honeybee only sees about 1/60 of what humans do. We would have to have compound eyes as large as our heads just to see as much as we normally do. A compound eye is extremely good at spotting motion though. Some insects have very large compound eyes that allow them to see almost all the way around them. That’s one reason why it’s practically impossible to sneak up on a housefly!
Does any creature have eyes in the back of its head?
Not exactly, but a chameleon comes pretty close. A chameleon’s bulging eyes can swivel and rotate independently from one another—which means that it can actually look in two different directions and at two different objects at the same time! This allows the chameleon to peer 360 degrees all around itself without ever moving its head. (Humans can’t see more than 180 degrees.) When the chameleon spots a tasty bug, it focuses on it with both eyes, getting a better look, so it can catch it with its sticky tongue.
Did you know that…
The fraction 20/20 is used to describe normal human vision. A hawk’s vision would measure closer to 20/5, which means the hawk can see things from 20 feet away that we would only be able to see from 5 feet away.
Why does an animal’s eyes glow at night?
Have you ever wondered why certain animal’s eyes—whether it’s your pet cat’s, a deer’s in the highway or a wolf’s on TV—glow spookily when caught in a beam of light in the dark?
It’s because of the “tapetum lucidum”, a carpet of mirror-like cells behind the animal’s retina, the layer of nerves at the back of the eye. It’s the retina that sends the messages to the brain about what the eye is seeing.
The tapetum lucidum improves an animal’s night vision by catching the light that passes all the way through the retina and bouncing it back, giving the animal another chance to “see” it. The tapetum lucidum greatly boosts an animal’s ability to see in the dark, which is why it’s mainly found in nocturnal animals.
Because different animals have different pigments in their eyes, they can give off
different color glows, from white to green to red.
Are Bats Really Blind?
No, bats aren’t actually blind at all. There are more than 1000 species of bat in the world. All of them can see and most have very good eyesight. In fact, fruit bats depend completely on their vision to find food. Many smaller bats use something called echolocation to help them hunt their insect meals and find their way in darkness; they bounce very high-pitched sounds off objects, like a delicious fly or mosquito, to determine their size, shape, distance and location. Although nocturnal bats—ones that sleep during the day and are active at night—may have better night vision than day vision, they are far from blind.
Do Dogs and Cats See in Black-and-White?
It’s a myth that dogs and cats only see in black-and-white. Scientists tell us that both dogs and cats have at least some color vision.
Studies show that cats have some limited ability to tell the difference between colors, but are slow to learn how—probably because it’s not a very useful skill for them to have. Dogs also have a limited amount of color vision. They can tell the difference between red and blue, but have problems distinguishing green from red—good thing they don’t need to read traffic lights! In humans, this same kind of colorblindness is called deuteranopia.
Cats and dogs both depend much more on movement and contrast—differences in brightness—than color to see objects.