||As noted by Darwin, chickens have the greatest phenotypic diversity of all birds, but an interesting evolutionary difference between domestic chickens and their wild ancestor, the Red Junglefowl, is their comparatively weaker vision. Existing theories suggest that diminished visual prowess among domestic chickens reflect changes driven by the relaxation of functional constraints on vision, but the evidence identifying the underlying genetic mechanisms responsible for this change has not been definitively characterized. Here, a genome-wide analysis of the domestic chicken and Red Junglefowl genomes showed significant enrichment for positively selected genes involved in the development of vision. There were significant differences between domestic chickens and their wild ancestors regarding the level of mRNA expression for these genes in the retina. Numerous additional genes involved in the development of vision also showed significant differences in mRNA expression between domestic chickens and their wild ancestors, particularly for genes associated with phototransduction and photoreceptor development, such as RHO (rhodopsin), GUCA1A, PDE6B and NR2E3. Finally, we characterized the potential role of the VIT gene in vision, which experienced positive selection and downregulated expression in the retina of the village chicken. Overall, our results suggest that positive selection, rather than relaxation of purifying selection, contributed to the evolution of vision in domestic chickens. The progenitors of domestic chickens harboring weaker vision may have showed a reduced fear response and vigilance, making them easier to be unconsciously selected and/or domesticated.Cell Research advance online publication 1 April 2016; doi:10.1038/cr.2016.44.