Also called the Purkinje Shift, this condition is the tendency of the eyes to loser their color contrasting abilities on the change of luminance. Sensitivity to luminance causes the eyes vision to shift towards the blue section of the color spectrum when the illumination levels are low. This means that the Purkinje Effect induces color contrast variations at different intensities of illumination. For instance in bright sunlight roses will appear red against a dull green backdrop of leaves, but towards evening, the red petals of the rose appear darker or blackish in color.
The Purkinje Effect takes place during the transition period in the day. Just when the rods of the eyes take over from the cones during last dusk, many people experience this effect. This transition stage is known as the mesopic stage.
What are the common day to day examples of the Purkinje Effect?
When you walk into an art gallery and look at a painting in bright sunlight, observe the painting in low illumination levels. Invariably, there is a change in color contrast. Named after the Evangelista Purkyne, this Czech anatomist was the first to notice this effect. He would go on morning walks and notice that the flowers would not look as bright at the fall of dusk. Although humans have experienced the Purkinje Effect for thousands of years, it was only in 1819 that this condition was researched and documented. The tendency of the eye to change its color contrasting abilities during peak luminance and during low luminance is now not a mystery anymore.
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About the Author
Amjad Khokhar, M.D. is Chief LASIK Surgeon at Sugarland Eye and Laser Center. Add Dr. Khokhar on Google+ here.: