Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Old Blue Eyes
06 June 2015

Old Blue Eyes

As any colour-blind person knows we don’t all see colours equally but ‘the dress’ highlighted a different phenomenon – the way we detect colour intensity also varies. How colour is perceived is being studied by researchers investigating age-related macular degeneration (AMD), a form of blindness in the elderly that causes fine focus to become blurry while peripheral vision remains intact. They tested how easily individuals can distinguish specific colours when they‘re adjacent to similar shades or contrasted against other strong hues. AMD patients were less able to detect all colours than the controls but this was particularly marked in the blue shades, and this was the case even when the patients were only mildly affected by AMD. Although AMD can’t be cured, if detected early the progression to blindness can be slowed, so testing colour contrast sensitivity may be a useful way to identify those at risk.

Written by Julie Webb

Research published in Current Biology, May 2015

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