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Stephen Engel, Arnold Wilkins, Shivraj Mand, Peter Allen; Habitual wearers of colored lenses adapt more rapidly to the color changes they produce. Journal of Vision 2016;16(12):555. doi: 10.1167/16.12.555.
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© 2017 Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology.
Can the visual system learn to adapt particularly rapidly to large, commonly occurring changes in input? Every time one takes off or puts on a pair of glasses, the statistics of visual input change dramatically. It would be advantageous if vision could adapt especially efficiently to such changes, but whether it does so remains unknown. We tested whether people who routinely wear spectacles with colored lenses (prescribed for "visual stress") increase how rapidly they adapt to the color shifts their lenses produce. Nine habitual wearers and nine age-matched control subjects judged the color of a small monochromatic test light presented on a large, uniform, whitish surround, every 5 sec for repeated 1 min periods. The "method of a thousand staircases" was used to estimate the timecourse of changes in unique yellow, the wavelength appearing neither reddish or greenish, over 1 min periods following the donning and removal of their spectacles. As expected, red lenses shifted unique yellow to more reddish colors (longer wavelengths), and greenish lenses shifted it to more greenish colors (shorter wavelengths), consistent with adaptation "normalizing" the appearance of the world. We quantified rapid adaptation as shifts in unique yellow occurring by the first time point (5 sec) and slow adaptation as shifts occurring thereafter. Critically, in habitual wearers rapid adaptation to their habitually worn color was reliably larger (~7 nm vs ~4 nm), and slow adaptation reliably smaller (~0 nm vs 0.75 nm) than in controls. The total amount of adaptation was also larger in habitual wearers. These data strongly suggest that the visual system adapts more rapidly and strongly as environments are encountered repeatedly. Our results represent one of the first formal tests of the anecdotal observation that adjusting to putting on one's glasses becomes easier over time, and may have implications for clinical management.
Meeting abstract presented at VSS 2016
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