PAX6 is essential for neural retina (NR) and forebrain development but how PAX6 instructs NR versus forebrain specification remains unknown. We found that the paired-less PAX6, PAX6D, is expressed in NR cells during human eye development and along human embryonic stem cell (hESC) specification to retinal cells. hESCs deficient for PAX6D failed to enter NR specification. Induced expression of PAX6D but not PAX6A in a PAX6-null background restored the NR specification capacity. ChIP-Seq, confirmed by functional assays, revealed a set of retinal genes and non-retinal neural genes that are potential targets of PAX6D, including WNT8B. Inhibition of WNTs or knocking down of WNT8B restored the NR specification capacity of neuroepithelia with PAX6D knockout, whereas activation of WNTs blocked NR specification even when PAX6D was induced. Thus, PAX6D specifies neuroepithelia to NR cells via the regulation of WNT8B.