Find information on medical topics, symptoms, drugs, procedures, news and more, written in everyday language.

Tracing the Visual Pathways

Tracing the Visual Pathways
Tracing the Visual Pathways

Nerve signals travel from each eye along the corresponding optic nerve and other nerve fibers (called the visual pathway) to the back of the brain, where vision is sensed and interpreted. The two optic nerves meet at the optic chiasm, which is an area behind the eyes immediately in front of the pituitary gland and just below the front portion of the brain (cerebrum). The optic nerve from each eye divides in the optic chiasm. Half of the nerve fibers from each side cross to the other side and continue to the back of the brain. Thus, the right side of the brain receives information through both optic nerves for the left field of vision, and the left side of the brain receives information through both optic nerves for the right field of vision. The middle of these fields of vision overlaps. It is seen by both eyes (called binocular vision). An object is seen from slightly different angles by each eye, so the information the brain receives from each eye is different, although it overlaps. The brain integrates the information to produce a complete picture. This process is the basis of stereo vision or depth perception.