The Visual System

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The human visual system is a complex process involving the eye and the brain. In the first part of the process, the eye receives visual stimuli of the environment and information regarding light, color and shapes are transferred to the brain via electrical impulses. In the brain these information are processed and interpreted.

The human visual system

In order to receive visual information, the eye consists of several important optical components allowing for adjustments. The cornea is crucial for the optical power of the eye, the pupil / iris allows for adaptation to different brightness levels, the lens enables to focus on either near or distant objects, and the photoreceptors of the retina which transform the optical information into electrical and electro chemical signals and transmitted to the virtual cortex of the brain. Only the interpretation of the visual information by the brain complete the visual process and enable humans to for resulting actions.

The human eye

Although the eye has a variety of adaptive mechanisms and can adapt to a large range of luminance levels, there are limits regarding the perception of contrasts for specific lighting situations. In these situations objects brighter than the range the eye has adapted to, are perceived glaring and objects of low luminance appear dark. The distance between the eyes defines the field of view and enables for three-dimensional perception.

Section Key Resources
  • Illuminating Engineering Society (XXXX): Light + Design, a guide to designing Quality Lighting for people and buildings, IES DG-18-08
  • Ganslandt, R., Hofmann, H. (1992): Handbook of lighting design, Vieweg & Sohn Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Braunschweig / Wiesbaden, Germany
  • Cuttle, C. (2003): Lighting by design, Architectural press, Elsevier Science, Oxford, UK

Lead Author(s): Aris Tsangrassoulis

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