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Yanjun Li, Katherine EM. Tregillus, Qiongsha Luo, Stephen A. Engel; Repeated adaptation to red lenses produces stronger and more rapid effects. Journal of Vision 2020;20(11):1516. doi: https://doi.org/10.1167/jov.20.11.1516.
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The visual system adjusts its function in different visual environments. For example, when observers wear colored lenses, the lens color fades over time as vision adapts. It would be beneficial to adapt more rapidly to common environments. We tested if adaptation speeds up following repeated exposure to a colored environment.
Twelve observers wore red lenses for 5 one-hour periods per day, for 5 days. We measured the time course of adaptation to the lenses twice daily. During testing, observers adjusted a 0.5-degree square on a naturalistic background to “unique yellow,” a chromaticity appearing neither reddish nor greenish. They first performed a five-minute block of settings under natural viewing. Then, observers put the lenses on and immediately performed another block, followed by others every 15 min for one hour. Testing began before observers first put on the glasses each day. They then removed and wore the lenses in alternation for 1 hr intervals, while going about everyday activities, before returning for a second session.
Classical color adaptation was observed within each session; when observers first put on the lenses, unique yellow settings were relatively green, to cancel the redness the lenses produced. During the session, settings became less greenish, indicating that the world appeared less reddish over time. Critically, across days the mean setting of the very first block with lenses on became significantly less greenish (t = 6.87, p < 0.0001). This indicates greater rapid adaptation, with the world appearing immediately less reddish each day. Total adaptation, measured by the mean setting of each session’s final block, also grew across days (t = 4.36, p < 0.002). Both effects were still significant upon retest, one month later. Experience with colored lenses allows more rapid and stronger adaptation to the color shifts they produce.
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