What Is the Function of the Fovea Centralis?

function-fovea-centralis Credit: etrenard/CC-BY 2.0

The fovea centralis is a depression-like area located at the centermost part of the retina of the eye. Only cone cells are located in the fovea centralis, and each cone cell is attached to a ganglion cell. This dip or depression in the smallest part of the retina is the location in which the most acute vision takes place.

The cone cells found in this area are attached to ganglion cells, providing the sharpest central vision in the retina, known as foveal vision. Cone cells primarily interpret red and green light, and the fovea is responsible for seeing the most detailed vision due to the concentration of cone cells.

The fovea centralis does not contain rod cells. Therefore, centrally viewing an object in dim lighting is harder when observing it directly. Rod cells are more predominant in the outer eye, so looking out the sides of the eye makes it easier to see objects in dim light.

The fovea contains the pigments lutein and zeaxanthin. Both of these pigments are yellow carotenoids that protect against high-intensity blue light, which may damage the cone cells.

The fovea centralis is also present in other animals, including reptiles and fish. The only mammals that have a fovea centralis in their eye anatomy are in the simian primate family.