Adaptive optics was invented to correct atmospheric distortion for ground-based telescopes. It is in use now for many of the largest aperture telescopes in the world, including the twin Keck telescopes, the world’s largest, in Hawaii. Now someone has had the bright idea of turning this same technology around to peer into the human eye. Pretty cool.
“We were able to precisely image and count the color-receptive cones in a living human eye for the first time, and we were astonished at the results,” says David Williams, Allyn Professor of Medical Optics and director of the Center for Visual Science. “We’ve shown that color perception goes far beyond the hardware of the eye, and that leads to a lot of interesting questions about how and why we perceive color.”
The conclusion they reach, that we all see color the same way, is a bit of a stretch to me, but they do seem to have demonstrated that people more or less agree on what wavelength of light is called “yellow”. What they should do is to extend this to see what differences exist in people whose eyes are at the extremes for cone density. I would be interested in learning if there is a occupational trend, for example. Do people with more cones see more subtle color variations, for example? Do people with fewer cones have better night vision?
Still, a fascinating article.