How Lobsters See, and How Lobster Eyes Work

Lobsters can see through your clothes? Not really. But lobsters do have special eyes that enable them to see in low light and murky waters 300 feet below the ocean surface.

How Lobsters See

A lobster’s eye works on a principle of reflection rather than that of refraction like humans. The reflection is made possible by thousands of squares located in the lobster’s eyes, which are near the base of the antennae. These squares are the lobster’s optics. These well-arranged squares are in fact the ends of tiny square tubes that give the lobster a kind of “x-ray” vision.  The sides of each one of these square tubes are like mirrors that reflect the incoming light. They are composed of entirely of straight walls and right angles, as opposed to the human eye’s curved rods and cones.   This give the lobster an amazing 180° field of view.

How Lobster Eyes Work

How Lobsters See
Do Lobsters have x-ray vision?

A lobster’s eye reflects the light beams, rather than by bending it through lenses found in human eyes. This reflected light sends all of the beams reflected by a particular object (like potential prey on the ocean floor) to the same focal point. Each eye, set on a movable stalk, has up to 10,000 facets that operate like many tiny eyes.

The lobster probably doesn’t see images, but its eyes can detect motion in dim light. In bright light, a lobster is probably blind. The long antennae are used to feel the area around a lobster. The four small antennae on the front of their heads are used to “smell”  their food or chemicals in the water. The unique design of the lobster eye has been intensely studied to help researches develop X-ray scanners.

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