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Journal of the Optical Society of America A

Journal of the Optical Society of America A


  • Vol. 21, Iss. 11 — Nov. 1, 2004
  • pp: 2061–2064

On the optical theory of underwater vision in humans

Anna Gislén and Lars Gislén  »View Author Affiliations

JOSA A, Vol. 21, Issue 11, pp. 2061-2064 (2004)

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Defocus changes the visual contrast sensitivity function, thereby creating a complex curve with local dips and peaks. Since underwater vision in humans is severely defocused, we used optical theory and the phenomenon of spurious resolution to predict how well humans can see in this environment. The values obtained correspond well with experimental measurements of underwater human acuity from earlier studies and even point to an opportunity for humans with exceptional contrast sensitivity to see better underwater than the children in those studies. The same theory could be useful when discussing the visual acuity of amphibious animals, as they may use pupil constriction as a means of improving underwater vision.

© 2004 Optical Society of America

OCIS Codes
(110.4100) Imaging systems : Modulation transfer function
(330.1070) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision - acuity
(330.1800) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision - contrast sensitivity
(330.4060) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision modeling
(330.7320) Vision, color, and visual optics : Vision adaptation

Original Manuscript: October 13, 2003
Revised Manuscript: June 2, 2004
Manuscript Accepted: June 2, 2004
Published: November 1, 2004

Anna Gislén and Lars Gislén, "On the optical theory of underwater vision in humans," J. Opt. Soc. Am. A 21, 2061-2064 (2004)

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