“What is vision?” is as much a philosophical question as it is a literal one. The gift of sight is an extraordinary sense that allows us to physically see the world around us, but also informs how we perceive and shape it, providing valuable information about our environment, how we navigate it and make sense of our surroundings.
However, despite its ubiquitous nature, there are several misconceptions about the way we see. Unfortunately, many people take vision for granted, not understanding how complex the process of seeing is. Many misconceptions about vision and how our eyes work persist, so let’s debunk our top three.
Misconception #1: We See With Our Eyes Alone
At first glance (no pun intended), this might not seem untruthful since we do see with our eyes. But we don’t only use them on their own. While it’s true that our eyes play a crucial role in the act of seeing, the act of seeing involves several parts of the brain working cooperatively. Light enters the eye and is focused by the lens onto the retina, which contains specialized cells called photoreceptors that convert the light into electrical signals. These signals are then transmitted to the brain, where they are processed and interpreted as visual information.
However, the brain’s processing of visual information is not limited to the signals received from the eyes alone. The brain also relies on past experiences and expectations to interpret what we see. For example, if we see an object partially obscured by another object, our brain will fill in the missing information based on our past experiences and expectations of what that object should look like. This is why we can recognize objects even if we only see a small part of them.
Misconception #2: We See Everything in Front of Us
Our eyes have a limited field of view, which means that we cannot see everything in front of us at once. Instead, our eyes move constantly, making rapid movements called saccades to take in different parts of our environment. Our brain then stitches these different images together to create a cohesive picture of our surroundings.
Even though our brain creates a seamless image of our environment, it is not an exact representation of reality. Our brain selectively filters out certain information that it deems unimportant or irrelevant. This is why we can miss things that are right in front of us if our brain does not deem them important enough to process. For example, if we’re focused on reading a book, we may not notice someone walking past us unless they make a loud noise or attract our attention in some other way.
Misconception #3: Our Vision Is Static
Many people assume that our vision is an unchanging image of the world around us, but this is not the case. Our eyes are constantly moving, and our brain, in response, is constantly processing and interpreting the information that we receive. Additionally, our brain is capable of adjusting our recognition of color, brightness and even shape based on the context in which we see things.
For example, the color of an object can appear different in different lighting conditions. Our brain is capable of adjusting for these changes in lighting so that we perceive the object as having the same color regardless of the lighting climate. Similarly, our brain can adjust our depth perception of an object’s size based on our distance from it. An object that appears small when it is far away will appear larger when we get closer to it.
A 20/20 Perspective on Vision
Through a better understanding of vision, we can enhance our perception of the world, appreciate the marvels of art, optical illusions and the beauty of nature, and develop technologies that support individuals with visual impairments. Let us continue to delve into the fascinating realm of vision and unravel its mysteries, one misconception at a time.
Partner with Complete Eye Care of Medina on your journey to 20/20 vision. From regular eye exams to specialty services, we’re committed to helping our patients see clearly because everyone deserves great vision.
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