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It is reasonably well known that many species, such as bees and some types of birds as examples can see into the ultraviolet (UV). How is the structure of their eye different to humans to allow this?

Also, how are they shielded from some of the harmful effects of ocular UV exposure?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Firstly most UV perceiving organisms only perceive far UV (~300-400nm) which is less damaging. There are different opsins, which get activated by different wavelengths. Like other light UV is perceived by opsins, sensitive to UV wavelength [1, 2].

I am not sure about this but opsin sensitivity to UV must be high so that low irradiation is sufficient for perception and excess is filtered off. UV filter mechanism in reported for human and squirrel eye; mostly uses kynurenine derivaties. May be similar mechanism is present in other organisms too.

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Thank you for this - I was not sure of the terminology involved - but I can now find research about the UV sensitivity to opsin. – user3795 Jun 17 '13 at 9:28

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