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Organ that receives light and visual images. Non-image forming, or direction, eyes are found among worms, mollusks, cnidarians, echinoderms, and other invertebrates; image-forming eyes are found in certain mollusks, most arthropods, and nearly all vertebrates. Arthropods are unique in possessing a compound eye, which results in their seeing a multiple image that is partially integrated in the brain. Lower vertebrates such as fish have eyes on either side of the head, allowing a maximum view of the surroundings but producing two separate fields of vision. In predatory birds and mammals, binocular vision became more important. Evolutionary changes in the placement of the eyes permitted a larger overlap of the two visual fields, resulting in the higher mammals in a parallel line of direct sight. The human eye is roughly spherical.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on eye, visit Britannica.com.