Our brains are amaz­ing

The Oban Times - - News - with John Wal­lace

SUM­MER has ar­rived and the sun is out. Our scenery ri­vals the best in world when the sun shines. But to en­joy it you have prob­a­bly had to wear sun­glasses. Sun­glasses serve two pur­poses. They re­duce ex­ces­sive light to a more com­fort­able level and, more im­por­tantly, pro­tect our eyes from UV light which can cause longterm se­vere dam­age to our eyes.

Have you no­ticed when­ever you first wear your sun­glasses how the world changes colour de­pend­ing on the tint of the sun­glass lenses? Very rapidly your brain adapts to this change and the world is seen in its ‘nor­mal’ colours. Whites ap­pear white and you don’t per­ceive any colour dis­tor­tion. This phe­nom­e­non is called colour con­stancy. An­other ex­am­ple of the amaz­ing way our brains en­hance what we see is stere­op­sis. Stere­op­sis is when we see in 3D. Our eyes are placed slightly apart in our heads. Each eye sees at a slightly dif­fer­ent an­gle. When this in­for­ma­tion is trans­mit­ted to our brains, you would think we would see a slight over­lap in the two im­ages. In fact we nor­mally only see one im­age and it is in 3D. Our brains take the im­ages from our two eyes and use the dis­crep­ancy in the im­ages to give us depth per­cep­tion. This en­ables us to pick that cup of tea with­out hav­ing to move our hands round to find where the cup is ac­tu­ally po­si­tioned.

Many of us don’t have stere­op­sis due to ‘lazy’ eyes or squints. Un­less you are blind in one eye or only have one eye, there is the po­ten­tial to have some depth per­cep­tion. It’s par­tic­u­larly im­por­tant that our chil­dren have reg­u­lar eye ex­am­i­na­tions to en­sure they de­velop 3D vi­sion. Your op­tometrist will be happy to ad­vise you or re­fer to a col­league who can help your chil­dren.

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