10 Types of Animals with the Best Eyesight (Pictures)

Animals have adapted over the years to excel in their environment. Some have adapted an incredible sense of smell, some have adapted to fly or be exceptionally fast, and some have adapted to have specialized vision. While it’s hard to define which animals have the best eyesight on a broad scale, it’s easy to see that some animals have perfected certain aspects of their vision. Animals with the best eyesight are normally predators, but some prey animals also have excellent vision.

10 different animals with the best eyesight

In this article, we will take a look at 10 animals with the best eyesight and how they use their abilities.

1. Eagles

Bald Eagle

Like most birds of prey, eagles have highly evolved vision. This allows them to see their prey moving around on the ground from high in the air. To be exact, an eagle’s vision is more than 4 times stronger than ours. They are capable of seeing small animals up to 3 miles in the distance.

If this isn’t impressive enough, eagles also can see UV light, a more defined color spectrum, and have a field of vision that is nearly panoramic. With such good vision, it’s surprising that bald eagles are often found to prefer eating things like roadkill and stealing other animals’ food to hunting on their own.


2. Owls

Another bird of prey with specialized vision is the owl. Owls have highly evolved night vision that allows them to find their prey in the dark. This night vision is attributed to rods in the owl’s retina. While humans have around 91 million rods in each retina, owls have over a million in just one millimeter. This means they have 5 times the density of rods, allowing them to see much better in the dark than we can.

Owls also have very large eyes compared to their bodies. While this makes them cute, it also means they have much better vision than we do.

Actually all birds of prey have better eyesight than humans do, including falcons.


3. Sharks

image by ume-y via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

When taking a look at under-the-sea animals, the shark boasts some of the best vision around. They have adapted to not only have more rods in their eyes than humans, allowing them to see in dark murky water, but they also have evolved things called tapetum lucidum. This is a layer of crystallized tissue that allows light to be reflected back to the shark’s eyes, allowing even more light to be absorbed.

This gives sharks that extra edge that allows them to be the top predators of the sea. Scientists estimate that sharks can see 40-50 feet ahead of them in the water, which makes their water vision at least 10 times that of ours.


4. Mantis Shrimp

mantis shrimp | image by prilfish via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Another underwater creature with unique vision abilities is the mantis shrimp. Their eyes are able to process the things they see before the information is even relayed to their brain. This allows these small animals to be one step ahead of most predators and their prey.

Unlike us, mantis shrimp are also able to see both polarized light and UV light thanks to their 12-16 photoreceptors.

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5. Cheetah

What makes the cheetah’s vision so impressive is its ability to see clearly while running at very fast speeds of up to 80 miles per hour. Cheetahs have evolved several things that make their daytime hunting successful.

The black around the cheetah’s eyes is there to absorb light and keep it from interfering with the cheetah’s vision. They also have more cones in their eyes than rods, unlike many of the animals on the list. This allows them to see more defined colors and allows them to pick their prey out of the grass they hunt in.

The other adaptation that cheetahs have is actually in their ears. Specialized structures in the inner ear of the cheetah allow them to move their bodies and run while virtually keeping their heads still. This means they can keep their eyes locked on their prey, increasing the chances they will have a successful hunt.


6. Chameleon

Jackson’s chameleon

The chameleon is the only animal in the world that we know can rotate its eyes independent of each other. This allows the chameleon to have an almost 360-degree view of the world without moving its head.

This allows slow-moving chameleons to slowly sneak up on their prey without startling them. It also prevents most predators from finding them, as predators mostly use movement to find their prey.


7. Dragonfly

dragonfly

With their incredibly large eyes, it’s no surprise that these insects have incredible vision. Dragonflies are able to see nearly 360 degrees around themselves. This helps them avoid predation and to be excellent at flying.

Dragonflies are the most skilled fliers in the animal kingdom and have the ability to fly side to side, backward, forward, and hover. While they are able to see depth and movement quite clearly, they aren’t able to sense as many colors as some other animals and can’t see red at all.


8. Butterfly

While most animals have retinas filled with cones in order to detect color and see light, butterflies actually have photoreceptors, similar to the ones possessed by mantis shrimp. Butterflies are thought to have up to 15 unique photoreceptors that allow them to see very specific shades of colors. This helps them find ideal flowers for food and avoid predators.


9. Four-Eyed Fish

four eyed fish | image by Brian Gratwicke via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Scientific name: Anableps anableps

The four-eyed fish is one of the most unique on this list. While these fish don’t have overly impressive visual abilities like eagles or butterflies, they have something even better. Their eyes are designed such that each eye is split. One section looks up and one looks down.

This is important for these top-dwelling fish as it allows them to keep an eye out for predators from both above and below. It also allows them to see insects as they get near the surface of the water.

The main thing these fish eat are insects that either fall in the water accidentally or land on the water for a drink. Four-eyed fish are able to attack as soon as these insects hit the water, making them exceptional hunters.

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10. Humans

eye-human-web-story

While it may seem vain to include ourselves on the list, humans do actually have the best-generalized vision in the animal kingdom. We can see colors, distances, and depth.

This allows us to avoid dangers in our environments and enjoy things like nature and art. While we may have evolved our exceptional vision in order to survive, we now use it for much more enjoyable things.