The Diversity of Eyes and Vision

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Every aspect of vision, from the opsin proteins to the eyes and the ways that they serve animal behavior, is incredibly diverse. It is only with an evolutionary perspective that this diversity can be understood and fully appreciated. In this review, I describe and explain the diversity at each level and try to convey an understanding of how the origin of the first opsin some 800 million years ago could initiate the avalanche that produced the astonishing diversity of eyes and vision that we see today. Despite the diversity, many types of photoreceptors, eyes, and visual roles have evolved multiple times independently in different animals, revealing a pattern of eye evolution strictly guided by functional constraints and driven by the evolution of gradually more demanding behaviors. I conclude the review by introducing a novel distinction between active and passive vision that points to uncharted territories in vision research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-41
Number of pages23
JournalAnnual Review of Vision Science
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Zoology

Free keywords

  • evolution
  • eyes
  • Photoreceptors
  • visual tasks


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