Iris (anatomy)

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The iris (plural: irides, or rarely, irises) is a thin, circular structure in the eye, responsible for controlling the diameter and size of the pupils and thus the amount of light reaching the retina. "Eye color" is the color of the iris, which can be green, blue, or brown. In some cases it can be hazel (a combination of light brown, green and gold) or grey. In response to the amount of light entering the eye, muscles attached to the iris expand or contract the aperture at the center of the iris, known as the pupil. The larger the pupil, the more light can enter.

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General structure

The iris consists of two layers: the front pigmented fibrovascular tissue known as a stroma and, beneath the stroma, pigmented epithelial cells.

The stroma connects to a sphincter muscle (sphincter pupillae), which contracts the pupil in a circular motion, and a set of dilator muscles (dilator pupillae) which pulling the iris radially to enlarge the pupil, pulling it in folds. The back surface is covered by a heavily pigmented epithelial layer that is two cells thick (the iris pigment epithelium), but the front surface has no epithelium. This anterior surface projects as the dilator muscles. The high pigment content blocks light from passing through the iris to the retina, restricting it to the pupil.[1] The outer edge of the iris, known as the root, is attached to the sclera and the anterior ciliary body. The iris and ciliary body together are known as the anterior uvea. Just in front of the root of the iris is the region referred to as the trabecular meshwork, through which the aqueous humour constantly drains out of the eye, with the result that diseases of the iris often have important effects on intraocular pressure, and indirectly on vision. The iris along with the anterior ciliary body provide a lesser secondary pathway for the aqueous humour to drain from the eye.

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