How Your Eyes Process Color

The back of your eye, or retina, is full of photoreceptors called rods and cones. These rods and cones process the light that enters your eye and send messages to your brain. There are about 120 million rods on your retina. Rods are on the outer part of the retina and are used for peripheral (side) vision. Rods are very sensitive to light, so they help us see at night. They do not see color. That is why it is difficult to see color at night. There are only roughly 6 million cones on the retina. They are heavily concentrated in the center part of the retina. Cones are used for central vision. They see colors, but because they take more light to activate, they not do well in low light.


Download our activity for an illustration of how changes in light impact your ability to see colors!