Fact Check

Is This What a Human Eye Really Looks Like Close Up?

“First thing I thought of was the Westworld intro,” wrote one social media user.

Published Oct 20, 2023

Image Via Screengrab/Reddit
A viral photograph authentically provides a macro close-up look at the human eye.

A close-up photograph of what appears to be a light-brown human eyeball shows the organ's expansive, cavernous depths surrounding a seemingly bottomless, black pit that, together, mimics the intricate landscape of a volcanic caldera.

Social media posts that include the "eyeball" pic have circulated online since at least 2016. One such iteration shared to Reddit in 2018 in the subreddit r/Damnthatsinteresting claimed to show a “Macro shot of an eye”:

First thing I thought of was the Westworld intro
by inHostworld

The photograph has also appeared on social media platforms in the years since, including X, Facebook, and Imgur.

Through a reverse-image search using Google Lens, Snopes found the image originally accompanied a 2017 article published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature, which credited the photo to Suren Manvelyan. Snopes found the photo featured in the social media posts above published in Malvelyan’s online gallery.

This claim is therefore true.

According to his bio, Suren Malvelyan is an Armenian photographer with an interest in macro photos. His series of close-ups of the human eye, including the image above, was created as part of the photography project “Your beautiful eyes." Malvelyan's work has been published in a number of publications, including Daily Mail, Wired, Huffington Post, and The Guardian, among others.

Though the photograph technically does show the cornea, it’s the iris that makes up the eye’s brown coloration. In the human eye, the cornea is the clear, dome-shaped portion located at the front of the eye that is responsible for focusing light, according to the American Academy of Opthalmalogy (AAO). Located behind the cornea is the iris, which is the colored part of the eye that controls the size of the dark hole in the middle called the pupil. The pupil allows light to enter the eye.


Snopes contacted Malyvelyan for more information about the photograph and will update this article should we receive a response.


“Bio.” Suren Manvelyan Photography, 16 May 2012, https://www.surenmanvelyan.com/bio/.

“Cornea.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 28 Mar. 2016, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/anatomy/cornea-103.

Daily. “The Incredible Pictures That Reveal How the Human Eye Looks like the Rugged Craters on Mars.” Mail Online, 29 Dec. 2010, https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-1342468/Eye-catching-Incredible-pictures-time-reveal-human-eye-glory.html.

Dapcevich, Madison. “Snopes Tips: Why Care If Research Is ‘Peer-Reviewed’?” Snopes, 30 Mar. 2022, https://www.snopes.com/news/2022/03/30/snopes-tips-why-care-if-research-is-peer-reviewed/.

Draaisma, Douwe. “Perception: Our Useful Inability to See Reality.” Nature, vol. 544, no. 7650, Apr. 2017, pp. 296–296. www.nature.com, https://doi.org/10.1038/544296a.

Evon, Dan. “Snopes Tips: A Guide To Performing Reverse Image Searches.” Snopes, 22 Mar. 2022, https://www.snopes.com/articles/400681/how-to-perform-reverse-image-searches/.

“Eye Anatomy: Parts of the Eye and How We See.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 29 Apr. 2023, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/anatomy/parts-of-eye.

“First Thing I Thought of Was the Westworld Intro.” R/Hostworld, 2 Feb. 2019, www.reddit.com/r/Hostworld/comments/amb6mm/first_thing_i_thought_of_was_the_westworld_intro/.

Google Lens. https://lens.google.com/search?p=AbrfA8oY5jJOIXFLPFvZQUNEiEsetgRYFJwD2SNykbqguHpVfEeimRr4y5Vy-XMMtODQU5q-fIshYSZ0GEdhSI3NkJR7wSuwK5owYibxnWVoul-0bonfhopjPyBOGwYcnzlLVzdXA1aU66LGrPXHPyyqJc_KExto36n3SwGR4vaKAZaZS0GjRkOR8ZQWoTXXLZy68I7_-W4yMYw4kEKEhKEXKSvkO0CQnO0ERvPW4R5Q2CQ55UczXf9symBzyDN0Zp3E9dWll-Dx3X56FK1EdeFqGkv_OaOizlxPYgCpUTjZdJRe5iIpIVpkVQ5G_fo-tOCU_eULPRFArQp8&plm=ChAIDxIMCJqLvKkGEJjup8wDChAIFxIMCJqLvKkGEJjiq8wDCg4IGBIKCJuLvKkGEMCXDQoOCC0SCgibi7ypBhDYjA4KDwguEgsIm4u8qQYQ2OD0KAoPCBASCwibi7ypBhDoyJMqCg8IGRILCJuLvKkGEPDjlyoKDwgaEgsIm4u8qQYQ6JWkKg%3D%3D&pli=1#lns=W251bGwsbnVsbCxudWxsLG51bGwsbnVsbCxudWxsLG51bGwsIkVrY0tKRE5tWlRreE9XRmpMV1JrWkRjdE5ETTNNUzA0WlRnM0xXWTFPV05oWkdZME5tWmpNUklmYnpKeE9WOXBSR1pSYmxWV1NVVXhUR3gwZUVKVlRISTBSUzFJTm5ONFp3PT0iXQ==. Accessed 18 Oct. 2023.

“Https://Twitter.Com/AntonioParis/Status/811006124308643840.” X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/AntonioParis/status/811006124308643840. Accessed 18 Oct. 2023.

Imgur. “Eye ... Magnified by pro Camera.” Imgur, https://imgur.com/gallery/jsQlhH9. Accessed 18 Oct. 2023.

“Incredible Close-Up Images Of Eyes.” HuffPost, 12 Dec. 2012, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/human-eye-photographs-by-suren-manvelyan_n_2284826.

“Iris.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 28 Mar. 2016, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/anatomy/iris-2.

Jones, Jonathan. “Eyeballed: Suren Manvelyan’s Eerie Animal Close-Ups Are Judging You.” The Guardian, 9 Sept. 2014. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/jonathanjonesblog/2014/sep/09/suren-manvelyan-animal-eyes.

“Pupil.” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 26 May 2023, https://www.aao.org/eye-health/anatomy/pupil.

Schiller, Jakob. “Macro Eye Photos Zoom in on Nature’s Complexity.” Wired. www.wired.com, https://www.wired.com/2013/05/suren-manvelyan-animal-eyes/. Accessed 18 Oct. 2023.

“Your Beautiful Eyes.” Suren Manvelyan Photography, 25 June 2012, https://www.surenmanvelyan.com/eyes/your-beautiful-eyes/.

Madison Dapcevich is a freelance contributor for Snopes.