Comparing the Human Eye and a Camera

The human eye is a wonderful instrument, relying on refraction and lenses to form images. There are many similarities between the human eye and a camera, including:

The way the eye focuses light is interesting, because most of the refraction that takes place is not done by the lens itself, but by the aqueous humor, a liquid on top of the lens. Light is refracted when it comes into the eye by this liquid, refracted a little more by the lens, and then a bit more by the vitreous humor, the jelly-like substance that fills the space between the lens and the retina.

The lens is critical in forming a sharp image, however; this is one of the most amazing features of the human eye, that it can adjust so quickly when focusing objects at different distances. This process of adjustment is known as accommodation.

Consider the lens equation:

1/f = 1/di + 1/do

With a camera, the lens has a fixed focal length. If the object distance is changed, the image distance (the distance between the lens and the film) is adjusted by moving the lens. This can't be done with the human eye: the image distance, the distance between the lens and the retina, is fixed. If the object distance is changed (i.e., the eye is trying to focus objects that are at different distances), then the focal length of the eye is adjusted to create a sharp image. This is done by changing the shape of the lens; a muscle known as the ciliary muscle does this job.

Correcting Nearsightedness:
Correcting Farsightedness:

Correcting Nearsightedness

A person who is nearsighted can only create sharp images of close objects. Objects that are further away look fuzzy because the eye brings them in to focus at a point in front of the retina.

To correct for this a lens can be placed in front of the eye. What kind of lens is necessary?

  1. A converging lens
  2. A diverging lens

We need a diverging lens to diverge the light rays just enough so that when the rays are converged by the eye they converge on the retina, creating a focused image.

Correcting Farsightedness

A farsighted person can only create clear images of objects that are far away. Close objects are brought to a focus behind the retina, which is why they look fuzzy.

What kind of lens is needed to correct this?

  1. A converging lens
  2. A diverging lens

A converging lens is used, allowing images to be brought into sharp focus at the retina.