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Animal Red Eye

A whole different species...

There are large differences between the eyes of some animals, and those of humans. This has a large effect on the presence of red eye in animal photographs.

Also, when it comes to animals, not all 'red eye' is red! You may see green eye, white eye, yellow eye, or many other variations.

The Difference

The difference is rooted in the fact that some animals are naturally nocturnal. Their eyes are specially made so that seeing in the dark is not a problem. Most nocturnal animals have a layer at the back of their retinas called the 'tapetum lucidum'. It is an even better reflector of light than a human retina, and acts like a mirror on the back of the animals eye ball.

The result of this is that if you shine bright white light into an animals eye, they reflect that bright light back very well. Again though, in most animals we do not observe 'white eye'. In the case of humans the blood vessels color this light red. In animals, the color of the reflected light depends on the pigments in that individual animal's eyes. The bright green color we are used to seeing from animals caught in headlights on the road is common to cats, dogs and deer. Crocodile's eyes glow luminous red when caught in the light. Below is a picture of my two cats exhibiting this problem.

Red Eye in Cats

Some animals do not have this layer, and most animals which are not naturally nocturnal will exhibit red eye in the same fashion as humans. Birds for example, do not have a tapetum lucidum, and nor do squirrels.

Photography Tips

Many of the same tips apply with animals as with humans when dealing with 'animal red eye'. Because the light is reflected much better in an animals eye, lower light levels might still cause the effect, so in some ways it is even more important to be conscious of the problem.

Removing the flash light source from the camera lens is still a very important technique. The same rules apply when it comes to the direction of reflected light. This is probably your safest bet, as red eye reduction features will obey very different rules when it comes to some animals.

I hope you've enjoyed this article! If you have questions or comments, get in touch using my Contact Page.

Kind Regards

Robert Redwood Robert Redwood - Bio
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