Sunteți pe pagina 1din 3

Colbert Ncube K0608966

LS2310 Advanced Physiology Assignment 2008-09


A) What factors affect the optical quality of the retinal image produced by the eye?

Optical quality of the eye is affected by many factors such as the focal plane of the
cornea and lens. Light first enters the eye through the cornea which refracts light and
accounts for around two thirds of the eyes optical power. Light rays are bent more by
the cornea as it is the first point of contact from air into the eye. The cornea in an
average eye has a refractive index on 36 Dioptres. The lens has a refractive index of
around 6 dioptres. However the cornea has a fixed focus as it cannot change in
curvature. Light that has been refracted then passes through to the lens which adjusts
focus in line with the objects distance from the eye to a fixed spot on the retina. The
lens can alter the focal length of the eye by 7-8% thereby improving distant focus.

The range of accommodation of the lens can also affect the optical quality because the
lens’ focus can be changed by contraction or relaxation of the cilliary muscles which in
turn focuses the the light to the retina to form a sharp image by different focus stages
being used to go with the distance the object being looked at is from the eye. For close
objects the muscles relax and allow the lens to be rounder and more powerful and for
far a way objects the lens is stretched to make it flatter and less powerful. In
presbyopia the lens stiffens and this affects accommodation as this means it cannot be
elastic enough to assume a spherical shape for close objects to be focused onto.

Chromatic aberration is when the different wavelengths of light are refracted shorter
or longer according to their colour. This can cause a problem as some then would not
reach the retina but the macula lutea contains a yellow pigment which absorbs shorter
wavelengths which are blue coloured.

Spherical aberration occurs because light is not bent the same way in all parts of the
lens therefore not all the light will reach the retina causing some images to be blurred.

Eyeball length also affects optical quality as this can affect where images focus on the
eye. If the eyeball is too long then the images of faraway objects will focus onto a point
that is in front of the retina and this means the eye is myopic and thus is unable to
clearly see objects that are distant from them. This doesn’t affect the persons ability
to see objects that are close to them however this is done without the lens being
spherical as it would with accommodation.

If the eyeball is too short it is said to be hyperopic and the the image of close objects
will be focused behind the retina and this causes close vision to be poor. Although in this
case far objects can still be seen as the accommodation reflex will still be operational.
These two conditions can be treated by the use of lenses that correct the vision by
acting like a second lens and diffracting some light which takes the pressure of the
human lens and focuses the image onto the retina.

Another factor that affects optical quality is how smooth the surface on the cornea and
lens is. A lack of smoothness is called astigmatism and impairs vision but can be
corrected by wearing corrective lenses.

Colbert Ncube K0608966

The amount of aqueous and vitreous humor in the eye also affects its ability to transmit
light from the front to the back of the eye. However this can be upset if there is a build
up of these fluids in the eye as the pressure build up can cause permanent blindness by
damaging retinal cells. This is called glaucoma.

The size of the pupil determines how much light enters the eye and this can be useful
for either restricting how much light enters the eye and also making sure the light
reaches the centre of the eye to get a better image in bright light conditions or also to
protect the retina from the suns rays. This is because the pupil constricts in bright light
as a result of stimulation to the parasympathetic fibres of the iris.

B) To what extent is visual acuity limited by optical quality in the human eye?

Visual acuity is the ability of the eye to sharpen and clarify an image. Which is the
ability of the eye to see fine detail and also to distinguish it.

This can be limited by refractive error which causes there to be a defocus at the retina
which affects the pointspread function and cause a blurring of the image and cause the
resolution to be lost and with it fine detail too.

Size of pupil also affects visual acuity because in a large pupil there is more light
entering the retina thereby reducing diffraction but however there would be a loss of
resolution because the shape of the pupil would introduce aberrations and inversely if
the pupil is small there would be less optical aberrations but then the resolution would
be limited by diffraction. So a pupil size of around 3mm to 5mm would be the optimal
size for best aberrations and resolution.

The cones are the photoreceptors that are responsible for high resolution images. Cones
are responsible for day and colour vision. They consist of three kinds of cones all of
which contain opsin but all three kinds respond to different wavelengths of light. There
are red, green and blue cones. They are situated in the retina but more concentrated in
the fovea. This is where high resolution is achieved utilising the macula which absorbs
the shorter blue wavelength of light.

Change in lens colour caused by cataracts also affects visual acuity because the
opaqueness would affect the amount of light entering the retina and cause blurred
images. And this also affects the ability of the eye to accommodate and this is
irreversible. Macular degeneration would affect the retina because it would mean the
blue wavelengths of light would be lost as they wouldn’t be getting absorbed by the
macula and that would affect image quality and cause blur which means a loss off
resolution and therefore a loss of acuity. This can cause a visual acuity loss of 2 degrees
or more and signs are blurred vision amongst others.

The size of the eyeball also affects visual acuity as the images on the retina will be
blurred if the eye is either hyperopic or myopic as none of the refracted light will focus
onto the retina directly. Also the ability of the eye to accommodate is very important
for visual acuity as when looking at distant objects the rays are almost parallel
therefore not much diffraction is necessary to focus them on the retina. However on
close objects the light rays diverge and thus need a lot more diffraction to focus them
on the retina and without accommodation this would cause blur and loss of fine detail

Colbert Ncube K0608966

such as in myopic and hyperopic eyes. An eye that needs no corrective lenses to correct
its vision and focus is said to be in a state of emmetropia.

Background luminance also contributes to visual acuity because the photoreceptors in

the cones are sensitive to light and therefore a higher visual acuity is achieved when
there is more luminance as opposed to a dim setting where the rods are activated and
resolution and ability to distinguish fine detail is lost. Therefore background luminance
would seem to favour the photopic region and therefore promote visual acuity. And a
lack of background illumination would then cause a loss of acuity.

SHEVELL, S. K. (2003). The science of color. Amsterdam, Elsevier.

Widmaier, Raff and Strang (2008) Vander’s Human Physiology. 11th Edition. Mc Graw Hill