Snake Ocular Anatomy

Photo: Snake 3-D

This image depicts a 3-D reconstruction of a CT scan showing the bones of the snake’s skull (white) and the lacrimal duct (green) that drains tears from the eye into the nasal cavity. Click image for larger image

When it comes to being without, snakes not only lack arms, legs and warm blood. Snakes also lack eyelids! To provide protection to their eyes, snakes possess a specialized scale called a 'spectacle.' A snake's spectacle is a clear, fused in place and offers protection to the surface of the eye. When snakes produce tears, the tears are trapped in the small space between the spectacle and the cornea. 

Researchers at CZAR collaborated with the Murphy/Russell Vision Research Laboratory to study the unique anatomy of the snake’s eye. Using spectral domain optical coherence tomography (SD-OCT) and high resolution computed tomography (micro CT), they studied the eye of 10 different species of snakes in greater detail. See the image to the right for an example!