Everything About Dolphin Eyes

When we think of dolphins, we think of a caring and sociable aquatic mammal. But, have you ever thought of things about dolphins in terms other than their friendliness, such as their eyes?

Have you ever wondered how good dolphins’ vision is or what their eyes look like?

Do you want to know whether a dolphin can see its surroundings as well while it is submerged in water as it can when it is floating on top of the water?

Yes, you have, and yes, you do, which is why you are here.

You may learn several things about dolphin eyes, some of which are addressed in more detail further down this page.

Keep reading to widen your vision over the facts surrounding a dolphin’s eyes.

Traits Of Dolphins' Eyes

Physical Appearance Of Dolphin Eyes

To know about the eyes of a dolphin, the physical appearance of dolphins’ eyes is the first thing we should consider.

Number: Dolphins have two eyes.

Location: The eyes of a dolphin are positioned laterally, that is, one on either side of the head.

Color: A dolphin can have either black or blue eyes. The center is black, with a minor color variation, which is commonly blue or tinged with brown.

Size: Dolphins usually have small eyes, and some dolphins even lack a lens.

Shape: The shape of a dolphin’s eye is oval.

Operculum: A distinctive protrusion in the top section of a dolphin’s iris is known as the operculum. When exposed to low light, the operculum contracts.

Lens Shape: The dolphin lens is more spherical, looking like a little ball. This form enables it to refract light considerably more drastically, compensating for the cornea’s shortage of refraction.

Features Of Dolphins’ Eyes

Let us now go further into the eyes and vision of dolphins.

1. Vision

 Dolphins have a panoramic vision of 300 degrees, meaning they can look forwards, backward, and to the side but not up.

Both in and out of the water, dolphins have excellent eyesight. The eye of a dolphin is uniquely designed for underwater vision.

Dolphins are typically monocular; that is, they process visual inputs with one eye, although they may also use binocular vision, which is when they coordinate both eyes’ vision.

Characteristics Of Dolphins' Eyes

2. Movement

A dolphin’s eyes can move independently of one another, enabling them to view in two directions at once.

3. Field Of Vision

 Due to the independent movement of dolphins’ eyes, dolphins have two fields of vision because they can move each eye independently.

But, much like human eyesight, they can move their eyes such that these visual areas overlap.

4. Cornea

The cornea has a diverging lens shape.

Unlike humans, dolphins’ corneas do not bend light at all since it is already going through a liquid.

Underwater light refraction in dolphins is either not influenced by the corneal surface or is affected very little by the corneal surface because the media on both sides of the cornea (water on the outside and anterior chamber liquid on the inside) have refractive indices that are very similar to the corneas.

The corneal surface has a relatively low refractive power in the water.

5. Lens

Even though a dolphin’s cornea is designed to take light from water, the lens can adapt to the abrupt change from water to air by moving back and forth in the eye, enabling the dolphin to concentrate nearly as effectively in the air as it does in water.

The lens is nearly solely responsible for light refraction and image focusing on the retina in dolphins.

The lens of dolphins is virtually spherical or slightly elliptical as a result of this.

Considerable curvature of the lens surface allows for a sufficiently high refractive power of the lens and well-focused pictures on the retina due to the high curvature of the lens surface.

Features Of Dolphins' Eyes

6. Pupil

Dolphins’ pupil does not get bigger or smaller automatically like us, humans. There is a separate structure for the regulation of a dolphin’s pupil called the operculum, which is a flap-like structure.

Whenever illumination levels are too high, the flap over the eye is pushed down, resulting in two black patches on each side of the eye rather than simply one in the center as in humans.

7. Eye Muscles

Dolphins have underdeveloped ciliary muscles, which suggests that modifying the curvature of the lens will not be sufficient to accommodate the animal’s vision.

It has been postulated that dolphins may be able to adapt indirectly by adjusting intraocular pressure and displacing the lens relative to the retina utilizing the musculus retractor bulbi.

They have special muscles in their eyes, which adjust the lens and cornea for light refraction induced by the shift from underwater to aerial vision in the air. A dolphin would be nearsighted in the air if it didn’t have this adaptation.

8. Cells In Eyes

The retinas of dolphins include both rod cells and cone cells, implying that they can see in both low and intense light.

However, dolphins only have one kind of cone cell. Whatever color vision they have is likely to be confined to the blue/green range.

Considering that water absorbs red and yellow hues quickly but allows blue and green to get through, dolphins only need to perceive objects in blue and green.

Underwater, a dolphin uses the same type of back-and-forth movement of the lens to help it focus.

9. Tapetum Lucidum

A layer of reflecting cells behind the retina of dolphins’ eyes, known as the tapetum lucidum, reflects lost light out beyond the retinal cells a second time. This allows dolphins to see better in low-light conditions.

10. Acuity Of Vision

 According to studies, dolphins’ sharpness is comparable to or lesser than that of many terrestrial species. There is presently no standard for measuring visual capability distance in dolphins.


So, this was all about the eyes of a dolphin. Although dolphins are thought to have good sight in water and outside water, some sources indicate them to be a vision with poor acuity.

There are also some disparities when it comes to the presence of cones in dolphins.

Regardless of whether dolphins have poor vision or can see every color, their eyes have some fascinating characteristics, such as the ability to adjust their eyes in a coordinated way and move them independently.

I hope this post can help you in receiving the information you want!

About Tessa Reynolds

Hey, I'm Tessa. I like to do makeup, especially eye makeup. So, I always take inspiration about how I can do better eye makeup that makes my eyes beautiful. Along with makeup, I'm also a big fan of sunglasses, and I always test new glasses that go with my curly hair.