Top 10 Eyes

Photo by Robert Siegel: "Great Cormorant"

Dr. Billie Beckwith-Cohen

As told by Billie Beckwith-Cohen (PhD ’21), comparative ophthalmology resident at Michigan State.

Dr. Billie Beckwith-Cohen, vision science grad (’21), current comparative ophthalmology resident at Michigan State University, and overall retina nerd, sees a lot of animal eyes while in clinic at the MSU veterinary teaching hospital. For this year’s top ten, we tap into her expertise—and her love of all eyes—to get her list of top ten animal eyes (and retinas).

1. Shortfin Lionfish (Dendrochirus brachypterus)

Radiating linear stripes of corneal iridescence are seen in this fish. Corneal iridescence is common in shallow water fish, and may serve for camouflage.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

2. Choutengan Celestial Goldfish (Carassius auratus)

When my 5 year old saw this one his first question was “mommy, why is he looking up?” Sadly, though fascinating to look at these little fish have limited vision due to the positioning of the eyes. They still get around swimmingly!

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

3. Goat (Capra hircus)

Ruminants have some of the most magnificent eyes. Their fundus has a beautiful blue shiny tapetum and gorgeous prominent blood vessels and optic nerve head. It is no surprise that systemic diseases can be diagnosed with this unhindered view to the brain and vasculature.

Photo Credit: Image courtesy of UC Davis Comparative Ophthalmology

4. Sturgeon Caviar (Acipenseridae)

I think I have grossed out some friends while eating ikura at sushi restaurants and engaging in this conversation. Nonetheless, if one looks you cannot mistake the massive eyes on these fish eggs and I can’t resist pointing it out!

Photo Credit: Bret A. Moore, DVM, PhD, DACVO

5. Tarsier (Tarsiidae)

These little primates have enormous immobile eyes that are larger than their brain (like many birds). Instead of moving their eyes they can turn their head to look behind their backs.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

6. Scallop (Pectinidae)

Every time I visit an aquarium and find some rested scallops I like to take a moment to observe their exquisite tiny eyes, which vary in size.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

7. Tufted Puffin (Fratercula cirrhata)

This tufted critter has decorated his eyes with no less than a tufted pupillary ruff. A hypermature cataract may be spotted by the careful observer.

Photo Credit: Bret A. Moore, DVM, PhD, DACVO

8. Crocodilefish (Cymbacephalus beauforti)

Fish have the most elaborate iris colors and morphology. This one presents with multilobulated appendages that look almost like miniature sea corals.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

9. Red-Eyed Tree Frog (Agalychnis callidryas)

Some frogs have partially transparent false third eyelids that allow them to protect and camouflage their eyes without entirely obstructing vision.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

10. Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)

The iris of this fine creature illustrates the phenomenal palette seen in avians eyes.

Photo Credit: Robert David Siegel MD, PhD, Stanford University.

Click here to read more about Dr. Beckwith-Cohen's current work in our feature article, "All The Eyes".

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Fall 2022 Magazine Berkeley Optometry Magazine