In many animals, including dogs, cats and deer, the retina has a special reflective layer called the tapetum lucidum that acts almost like a mirror at the backs of their eyes. If you shine a flashlight or headlights into their eyes at night, their eyes shine back with bright, white light.
Humans don’t have this tapetum lucidum layer in their retinas. If you shine a flashlight in a person’s eyes at night, you don’t see any sort of reflection. The flash on a camera is bright enough, however, to cause a reflection off of the retina — what you see is the red color from the blood vessels nourishing the eye.
These vintage cat photographs are from Robert E. Jackson's collection, and they show how when a flash is taken of a cat, the lens of their eyes glows such that they looked possessed.
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