The average person blinks 15-20 times per minute, or once every 3 seconds. Although scientists acknowledge that blinking lubricates the eyeballs and protects them from debris like eyelashes or dust, they say that we blink far more often than is necessary for these functions.
So why exactly do we blink so often then? A paper published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a group of researchers from Japan suggest that closing our eyes briefly, as in a blink, may help us to gather our thoughts and focus our attention.
The scientists show that blinking is not random. For instance, when someone reads, they often blink at the end of a sentence. If you’re listening to a speech, you likely blink when the speaker pauses for a breath. The hypothesis is that we use blinking as a sort of “mental resting place” in order to shut off the visual stimulus around us and refocus our attention.
The researchers studied fMRIs of volunteers watching a television show and the analysis showed that when the volunteers blinked, the areas of the brain that operate when the mind is in a “state of wakeful rest” were more active. This means that a blink could be a moment of calm and restfulness – not just a lack of seeing something for a split second.
Interested in more interesting facts and cutting edge research about vision? Make yourself an appointment with Olympia eye doctor Dr. Douglas Jeske or Dr. Dani Simpson.
According to LiveScience, men are more sensitive to small details and moving objects, while women are more likely to recognize color changes — which suggests that men and women really do see the world differently!
“[A] recent, large review of the literature concluded that, in most cases females had better sensitivity, and discriminated and categorized odors better than males,” said researcher Israel Abramov, of the City University of New York.
In one part of the study, the researchers asked the volunteers to describe different colors shown to them. They found that the guys required a slightly longer wavelength of a color to experience the same shade as women and the men were less able to tell the difference between hues.
The researchers also showed the participants images made up of light and dark bars that varied in width and alternated in color so that they appeared to flicker, a measure of participants’ sensitivity to contrast. Compared with the women, the male volunteers were better able to identify the more rapidly changing images made up of thinner bars, the researchers said.
For another fascinating exploration of how vision may different between individuals, you should check out this article: Your Red Could Be My Blue by Life’s Little Mysteries. It’s an intriguing exploration of how our perception of color may differ dramatically from one person to another.
After several years of non-human testing, the worlds first bionic eyes are hitting the market in Europe. They provide 576 pixel grayscale vision to blind patients, though it only works if blindness is caused by a faulty retina, as in macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, or other degenerative diseases.
The Bio-Retina, developed by the Nano Retina company, is an intriguing technological advancement that currently costs about $60,000 and can be “installed” in about 30 minutes under local anesthesia. It places a 24×24 electronic sensor on the back of the eye and transmits encoded signals to the optic nerve. These sensors are powered by a harmless near-infrared laser, which is fired through the iris and to the sensor itself.
Will this technology eventually restore high-definition color vision to those suffering from degenerative blindness? It’s hard to say at this point, but recent breakthroughs are exciting to watch unfold. Clinical trials will begin the in United States in 2013.
For two days only, we are discounting selected world class eyewear up to 80% off with lens purchase and offering sunglasses at 30% off. This includes Ray Ban™ and Maui Jim™! This is the perfect time to use your eyewear insurance benefit or flexible medical spending account funds before the year is up. It’s an excellent time for contact lens wearers to get stylish back up glasses to be seen in. Consider treating yourself to an extra pair of reading or computer glasses. How about sunglasses for tropical travel destinations or to stash in the car for those occasional western Washington sun breaks? Pick up some sport goggles to protect your eyes – you never know when mishaps happen. Take advantage of our year end “house cleaning”.
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Scientists have developed an experimental treatment that could help prevent Stargardt disease, a rare eye disorder which affects only 30,000 Americans. As part of an experimental treatment study, Stargardt was selected as the main focus of the study because it is linked to only one gene out of almost 200 that have the potential to cause vision degeneration.
After years of research, scientists are now begining clinical trials on a treatment to Stargardt that will hopefully translate well into treatments for other vision diseases. Stargardt is caused by the body being incapable of properly recycling vitamin A, and the vitamin building up inside of the eye and clumping.
By modifying vitamin A to not clump, scientists believe that they can prevent Stargardt from causing permanent blindness. There is also hope for a surgery that replaces the cells inside of the eye with new, non-diseased retinal cells. Of the 30 patients, 9 have undergone the surgery, and several have reported improvements to vision.
A different round of testing on a different form of blindness called Leber’s congenital amaurosis happened in 2009. Of the patients that recieved the injection, all of them were legally blind, and since then, almost half of them are no longer considered legally blind.
Researchers in England have recently designed a new method of controlling computers and video games, with your eyes. Built for less than 30 dollars, the device accurately tracks eye location, allowing the user to control a cursor just like a mouse.
A report from the Journal of Neural Engineering tells us about the technology, recently being demonstrated by Imperial College London, allowing a group of players to play Pong without any kind of hand controls, as well as letting the users write e-mails and browse the internet, completely hands free. According to Dr Aldo Faisal, the players were able to deftly use the device within minutes.
The device, built with two cameras attached to a pair of glasses, takes rapid snapshots of the pupil to determine where it is pointing, and is even capable of determining how far away you are looking. This would allow a wheelchair to be controlled accurately and with little effort.
For those of us who can see, reading this sentence may seem as easy as sipping your cup of tea or picking something out to wear for the day, but what about people who are blind? That’s what a sensory substitution device (SSD) can be used for.
In a new study published in Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience, an SSD was used to teach sighted users to accurately “see” through music in just half an hour. The device, known as EyeMusic, converted the visual world into a series of auditory notes, with individual sounds representing unique colors.
According to Dr. Shelly Levy-Tzedek, “Participants were able to use auditory information to create a relatively precise spatial representation.” It was discovered that very little training was required for people to create an understanding of the space around them just using sound.
According to the International Centre for Eyecare Education almost 4 billion people suffer from refractive errors caused from eyes not being shaped or sized correctly. That’s about 50% of the world. Research done by a Purdue University student may soon have an impact on that.
The zebrafish, a popular research specimen, may have recently revealed an impressive secret to scientists. The chemical phenylthiourea, which is used to remove the black coloring from zebrafish so that researchers can more accurately see what is going on with the fish, was recently discovered to also decrease the size of the eye of the fish.
Growth in the body is influenced by the thyroid, and it is now theorized that phenylthiourea is similar to a naturally occuring thyroid inhibitor. It was found that when the enzyme thyroid peroxidase was inhibited in a zebrafish, that fish had smaller eyes.
Dr. Douglas Jeske and his staff are excited to introduce Dr. Dani Simpson.
Dr. Simpson has joined the team at Tumwater Eye Center and VUE Vision Uniquely Experienced. An Olympia High School graduate, Dr. Simpson went on to earn her bachelor of science degree from Western Washington University. Shortly after finishing college she decided to pursue a career in Optometry, attending Pacific University College of Optometry and earning her doctorate of optometry with distinction.
Dr. Simpson is enthusiastic about being an eye doctor because it incorporates her interests of science and medicine and her desire to teach and help others. She is very proud to have the opportunity to care for the vision and eye health needs of those in her home community.
Optometrist, Dr. Dani Simpson is now scheduling comprehensive eye exam appointments in Tumwater, at Tumwater Eye Center, and in downtown Olympia, at VUE.