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Chapter 2 - The Eye:
|Fig. 1. - Principal parts of the eye.
A. Conjunctiva; B. Retina
C. Chorold; D. Sclera; E. Fovea
F. Blind Spot; G. Optic Nerve
H. Ciliary Muscle; I. Iris
Helmholtz, who contributed so much toward our knowledge of the visual process, in referring to the eye, once stated that he could make a much better optical instrument but not a better eye. In other words, the eye is far from an ideal optical instrument but as an eye it is wonderful. Its range of sensitiveness and its adaptability to the extreme variety of demands upon it are truly marvelous when compared with instruments devised by mankind. Obviously, the eye is the connecting link between objective reality and visual perception and, therefore, it plays an important part in optical illusions. In fact, sometimes it is solely responsible for the optical illusion. The process of vision may be divided into several steps such as (1) the lighting, color, character, and disposition of objects; (2) the mechanism by which the image is formed upon the retina; (3) various optical defects of this mechanism; (4) the sensitiveness of the parts of the retina to light and color; (5) the structure of the retina; (6) the parts played by monocular and binocular vision; and (7) the various events which follow the formation of the image upon the retina.
The mechanism of the eye makes it possible to see not only light but objects. Elementary eyes of the lowest animals perceive light but cannot see objects. These eyes are merely specialized nerves. In the human eye the optic nerve spreads to form the retina and the latter is a specialized nerve. Nature has accompanied this evolution by developing an instrument - the eye - for intensifying and defining and the whole is the visual sense-organ. The latter contains the most highly specialized nerve and the most refined physiological mechanism, the result being the highest sense-organ.
The eye is approximately a spherical shell transparent at the front portion and opaque (or nearly so) over the remaining eighty per cent of its surface. The optical path consists of a series of transparent liquids and solids. The chief details of the structure of the eye are represented in Fig. 1. Beginning with the exterior and proceeding toward the retina we find in succession the cornea, the anterior chamber containing the aqueous humor, the iris, the lens, the large chamber containing the vitreous humor, and finally the retina. Certain muscles alter the position of the eye and consequently the optical axis, and focusing (accommodation) is accomplished by altering the thickness and shape, and consequently the focal length, of the lens.
|Errors in the mechanism of the eye are a cause of vision disorders. In myopia (nearsightedness), for example, the light does not focus directly on the retina but in front of it. As a result, the image will be out of focus when looking at a distant object. This is generally caused by the eye being elongated or the cornea having the wrong curvature. The error can be compensated by using corrective lenses such as glasses or contact lenses. The same is true with other refractive errors, like hyperopia (farsightedness) where the light focuses behind the retina making close up objects out of focus. However, the cause of a disorder may be in another part of the optic pathway, for example the optic nerve.|
The iris is a shutter which automatically controls to some degree the amount of light reaching the retina, thereby tending to protect the latter from too much light. It also has some influence upon the definition of the image; that is, upon what is termed "visual acuity" or the ability to distinguish fine detail. It is interesting to compare the eye with the camera. In the case of the camera and the photographic process, we have (1) an inverted light-image, a facsimile of the object usually diminished in size; (2) an invisible image in the photographic emulsion consisting of molecular changes due to light; and (3) a visible image developed on the plate. In the case of the eye and the visual process we have (1) an inverted light-image, a facsimile of the object diminished in size; (2) the invisible image in the retinal substances probably consisting of molecular changes due to light; and (3) an external visible image. It will be noted that in the case of vision the final image is projected outward - it is external. The more we think of this outward projection the more interesting and marvelous vision becomes. For example, it appears certain that if a photographic plate could see or feel, it would see or feel the silver image upon itself but not out in space. However, this point is discussed further in the next chapter.
In the camera and photographic process we trace mechanism, physics, and chemistry throughout. In the eye and visual process we are able to trace these factors only to a certain point, where we encounter the super-physical and super-chemical. At this point, molecular change is replaced by perception, sensation, emotion and thought. Our exploration will take us from the physical world into another, wholly different, where there reigns another order of phenomena. We have passed from the material into the mental world.
Chapter 2 - The Eye:|
How the Eye Influences Optical Illusions
| Visual Illusions E-Book
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