Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Eye colors?

A few years ago I noticed that my eyes tint the world slightly different colors.  Specifically, my left eye interprets things as slightly bluer, my right eye as slightly redder.  It's pretty subtle -- I can't tell unless I'm looking at something like a white page and actively paying attention to it -- but it is a nice reminder of the relativity of color perception.  I mean, of course it's going to be different across people, but before I noticed this, I didn't consider the possibility within a single person.

Things I wonder:

  • How much variation is there between eyes, across people?  Am I an outlier or is this a normal amount to be off by?  This finding suggests that most likely, everyone's eyes differ by some amount, whether or not they can notice in whatever lighting situation.  To quantify this, you could just feed each eye images, varying the lighting and color and whatnot, and ask them if they were the same or different. 
  • How much does this variation change over the course of a life?  Eyes change; I expect there to be some amount of drift. And while it would be difficult or impossible to  compare the color perception of my eyes now versus 10 years from now, it would not be impossible to compare their relative perception now versus 10 years from now.
  • Where are the signals actually diverging from each other?  Is it happening in the eye, or the brain? (I suspect the eye).
  • Should subtle counter-tints be part of one's glasses prescription?  How much is fidelity between eyes even worth?
Whenever someone starts getting too picky about the precise optimal color to paint a wall, I think about this.  If my left eye prefers A and my right eye prefers B, then I don't know that I can offer a meaningful opinion about which "works" better.  I suspect the differences between my eyes are smaller than the differences between my eyes (taken together) and other people's eyes.

If you're curious whether you can detect the tinting of your own eyes, I suggest giving it some attention the next time you're reading a physical book.  Alternate covering one eye or another and see if you can notice a difference.  Give it more than a passing attempt; even if you are capable of noticing, you may not notice it right away.

No comments:

Post a Comment