The fovea, also known as the fovea centralis, is a part of the eye, located in the center of the macula region of the retina. "Webvision: Simple Anatomy of the Retina" (definition of terms), University of Utah, Webvision: The Organization of the Retina and Visual System, September 2005, webpage: [ Med-UtahEdu-retina] .] "Relation Between Superficial Capillaries and Foveal Structures in the Human Retina" (with nomenclature of fovea terms), Masayuki Iwasaki and Hajime Inomara, "Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science" (journal), volume 27, pages 1698-1705, 1986,, webpage: [ IOVS-fovea-capillaries] .] The fovea is responsible for sharp central vision (also called foveal vision), which is necessary in humans for reading, watching television or movies, driving, and any activity where visual detail is of primary importance. The fovea is surrounded by the "parafovea" belt, and the "perifovea" outer region: the parafovea is the intermediate belt where the ganglion cell layer is composed of more than five rows of cells; the perifovea is the outermost region where the ganglion cell layer contains two to four rows of cells, and is where visual acuity is below the optimum. This, in turn, is surrounded by a larger peripheral area that delivers highly compressed information of low resolution. The optic nerve carries approximately 50% of nerve fibers for transmitting information from the fovea, while the other 50% carry information from the rest of the retina.


The term "fovea" comes from the Latin, meaning "pit" or "pitfall". As an anatomical term, there are several foveae around the body, including in the head of the femur.

In the human eye the term "fovea" (or "fovea centralis") denotes the pit in the retina which allows for 100% acuity of vision.

(extra-foveal information).the eye of the reader: foveal and peripheral perception - from letter recognition to the joy of reading] Transmedia Stäubli Verlag Zürich 2006 ISBN 978-3-7266-0068-6] ]

In the human fovea the ratio of ganglion cells to photoreceptors is close to one; almost every photoreceptor has one ganglion cell receiving data from it. That is why it has little loss of sensory data, thus it is the area of the eye where most details can be seen. ["Smithsonian/The National Academies". Light:Student guide and Source Book. Published by Carolina Biological Supply Company, 2002. ISBN 0-89278-892-5.]

The human fovea has a diameter of about 1.0 mm with a high concentration of cone photoreceptors. The centre of the fovea is the foveola - about 0.2 mm in diameter - where only cone photoreceptors are present and there are virtually no rods.

Compared to the rest of the retina, the cones in the foveal pit have a smaller diameter and can therefore be more densely packed (in a hexagonal pattern). The high spatial density of cones accounts for the high visual acuity capability at the fovea. This is enhanced by the local absence of retinal blood vessels from the fovea, which, if present, would interfere with the passage of light striking the foveal cone mosaic. The absence of inner retinal cells from the foveae of primates is assumed to contribute further to the high acuity function of the fovea.

Since the retina does not have a blood supply, the fovea must receive oxygen from the vessels in the choroid, which is across the retinal pigment epithelium and Bruch's membrane. This blood supply alone does not satisfy the metabolic needs of the fovea under conditions of bright light, and the fovea thus exists in a state of hypoxia when under bright illumination.

Since cones contain the pigmented opsins that allow humans to discriminate color, the fovea is largely responsible for the color vision in humans which is superior to that of most other mammals.

The fovea comprises less than 1% of retinal size but takes up over 50% of the visual cortex in the brain. [ "The Stimulus and Anatomy of the Visual System" (with fovea description), Hanover College, Psychology Department, [ HanoverCollege-Fovea-PDF-as-HTML] .] The foveal pit is not located exactly on the optical axis, but is displaced about 4 to 8 degrees temporal to it. The fovea sees only the central two degrees of the visual field, which is roughly equivalent to twice the width of your thumbnail at arm's length. [ Fairchild, Mark. (1998), "Color Appearance Models". Reading, Mass.: Addison, Wesley, & Longman, p.7.]

Surrounding the foveal pit is the foveal rim, where the neurons displaced from the pit are located. This is the thickest part of the retina.

Since the fovea does not have rods, it is not sensitive to dim lights. Astronomers know this: in order to observe a dim star, they use averted vision, looking out of "the side of their eyes".

The fovea is covered in a yellow pigment called xanthophyll, with the carotenoids zeaxanthin and lutein (Balashov and Bernstein, 1998), present in the cone axons of the Henle fibre layer. The pigment area absorbs blue light and is probably an evolutionary adaptation to the problem of chromatic aberration.

The fovea is also a pit in the surface of the retinas of many types of fish, reptiles and birds. Among mammals it is found only in simian primates. The retinal fovea takes slightly different forms in different types of animals. For example, in primates, cone photoreceptors line the base of the foveal pit, the cells which elsewhere in the retina form more superficial layers having been displaced away from the foveal region during late fetal and early postnatal life. Other foveae may show only a reduced thickness in the inner cell layers, rather than an almost complete absence.

ee also

*Eye movement
*Eye movement in language reading
*Eye movement in music reading
*Gaze-contingency paradigm
*Macular degeneration
*foveal system


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  • fovéa — fovéa …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • fovéa — [ fɔvea ] n. f. • 1900; du lat. sc. fovea centralis « fosse centrale » ♦ Anat. Dépression médiane de la tache jaune (« macula lutea »), au centre de la rétine, zone où la vision est la plus nette. Adj. FOVÉAL, ALE, AUX . ● fovea nom féminin… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Fovea — Fovéa Composition de l œil Rétinographie: La fovéa apparait au centre (tache grise) La fovéa, la zone centrale de la macula, est la zone de la rétine où la vision des d …   Wikipédia en Français

  • fóvea — f. anat. Fosa o depresión de pequeño tamaño, como la de la retina, la dentaria o la de la cabeza del fémur. ⊆ Región situada en la parte central de la mácula del ojo y que corresponde con la parte más sensible de la retina. Medical Dictionary.… …   Diccionario médico

  • Fovea — ist eine Kurzbezeichnung für die Fovea centralis, eine im Zentrum des Gelben Flecks gelegene Einsenkung, den Bereich des schärfsten Sehens der Netzhaut bei Säugetieren, die Hüftkopfgrube (Fovea capitis femoris), eine Vertiefung am Kopf des… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • fovea — FOVÉA s. f. 1. (anat.) gaură mică, depresiune. ♢ depresiune a retinei, situată în centrul petei galbene, care constituie zona cea mai sensibilă. 2. gropiţă pe suprafaţa unor seminţe, a unor organe ale plantelor. (< fr. fovéa) Trimis de… …   Dicționar Român

  • fovea — 1849, from L. fovea “small pit,” related to favissae underground reservoirs; of unknown origin, perhaps from Etruscan …   Etymology dictionary

  • fóvea — (Del lat. fovĕa, depresión o foseta). f. Anat. Porción pequeña de la retina de los primates, carente de bastones y con gran cantidad de conos, que constituye el punto de máxima agudeza visual …   Diccionario de la lengua española

  • fovea — [fō′vē ə] n. pl. foveae [fō′vēē΄, fō′vēī΄] or foveas [ModL < L] 1. Biol. a small pit, hollow, or depression 2. FOVEA CENTRALIS foveal [fō′vēəl] adj. foveate [fō′vēit, fō′vēāt΄] foveiform [fō vē′i fôrm΄] ad …   English World dictionary

  • Fovea — Fo ve*a, n.; pl. {Fove[ae]}. [L., a small pit.] A slight depression or pit; a fossa. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Fovĕa — (lat.), 1) Grube, bes. 2) (Anat), in einem Knochen; so F. haemisphaerĭca, s.u. Ohr. F. [448] lacrymalis, s.u. Auge; F. axillaris. Achselgrube; 3) (Bot., Grube), eine vertiefte Stelle, bes. an Blüthentheilen, die Honig ausscheiden, daher F.… …   Pierer's Universal-Lexikon

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