9 amazing facts about the eyes you might not know

Mr Tristan McMullan

Mr Tristan McMullan

One of NAB’s invaluable trustees Mr Tristan McMullan, and Consultant Ophthalmic and Oculoplastic Surgeon, explains 9 reasons why our eyes are so amazing.

  1. The proportion of brain – cortex – devoted to vision is 30% compared with 8% for touch and just 3% for hearing.
  2. There are 2 million nerve fibres in each optic nerve which carry signals from the retina to the brain.
  3. There are 330,000 cataract operations per year in UK.
  4. Newborns don’t produce tears. They make crying sounds, but the tears don’t start flowing until they are about 4-13 weeks old. All babies are colour blind at birth.
  5. There was over 7 ½ million hospital appointment for ophthalmology in 2016/17 in England.
  6. The thickness of a cornea is 5mm
  7. Each of your eyes has a small blind spot in the back of the retina where the optic nerve attaches. You don’t notice the hole in your vision because your eyes work together to fill in each other’s blind spot.
  8. The retina contains 150 million light-sensitive rod and cone cells – it is actually an outgrowth of the brain. These cells are different shapes – the rod-shaped cells allow you to see shapes and cone-shaped cells allow you to see colour.
  9. The world’s most common eye colour is brown and eye colour is determined by the amount of melanin in your iris.

Why did you choose to go into eye surgery after your medical training?

There’s a good mix of medicine and surgery with the potential to make a huge difference to people’s lives.

What is the hardest part of eye surgery?

Knowing when not to operate

What do you enjoy most about eye surgery?

The patients, every time, but in terms of the technical aspects, tumour work as every case is different and demands a bespoke approach.