Many vertebrates can see in high detail and color. We investigate the solutions that make vertebrate eyes so very sophisticated and ask how they have evolved. Our main interest is the sensory periphery, i.e. the eye and its optical function.
Multifocal lenses create well-focused color images. Such lenses have been found in all vertebrate groups investigated, from lampreys to primates, but in no other animal group. We have identified the inverted retina of vertebrates as a highly efficient space-saving solution, making it possible to fit large eyes into small heads (Kröger & Biehlmaier, 2009: Space-saving advantage of an inverted retina. Vision Res 49, 2318-2321).
Lens suspension and accommodation is one of our current main research topics, since sophisticated lenses of high quality need firm stabilization and accurate focusing. Other central topics are the information transfer capacity of multifocal lenses and the co-evolution of the retina and optical system. Each species has its particular set of photoreceptors and type of multifocal lens. We want to understand how this has evolved and how it provides a maximum of useful information to the animals in their specific habitats.