How Our Eyes Adapt to Seasonal Color Changes

Not every part of the country experiences the change of seasons with the incredible color changes. Places like the Midwest and Northeast sure do, and we are amazed at the colors every autumn. The same is true in spring. The primary reason why we appreciate the color so much is that our eyes adapt to seasonal color changes.

This phenomenon is a fairly recent discovery. Scientists from the University of York in Great Britain uncovered information in a very unique way. What they did was track the color yellow.

Why This Particular Color?

You would think that perhaps a color like orange or red would be more suitable. A color such as orange is not considered unique because it has hints of red and yellow in it. There are four distinct hues we as humans can identify:

  1. Green
  2. Blue
  3. Red
  4. Yellow

The researchers decided to go with a unique color. Yellow was chosen because of common perception. Different people, with separate ranges of vision, may have a different interpretation of other colors such as green. Yellow seems to be the common denominator; everyone agrees on its shade and tone.

The Study Findings

The researchers asked a test group of people to give their opinion about distinct settings of yellow. The experiment was conducted at two different times of the year: January and June. A colorimeter was used to record the results. The findings indicated that there was a highly recognizable difference in perception between the two seasons.

The reason is amazingly simple. It is all about the environment. The external stimuli that eyes receive from the outside has an impact on vision. The time of year is going to play a very important part.

January is a winter month that is cold, dark, and gray. There is not much in the way of bright colors on days when the primary color is snowy white. Our eyes respond to this lack of color, adjusting vision perception in accordance with a bleak landscape. June is quite figuratively busting out with all types of color, particularly green in the foliage.

Our eyes pick up on this dramatic change in the environment. What is yellow in the winter months is going to be different in the summer. It has been compared to a person changing a television’s balance of color.

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What Can This Revelation Tell Us?

It only makes sense to try to find out what value such seasonal changes hold for humanity. It is known from research into animals that creatures will adapt to the change of seasons. They will view color differently but the primary reason has to do with survival.

Arctic reindeer are a prime example. Their eyes change color depending on the time of year. This is a means of helping them deal with dramatic seasonal changes. It helps the animals spot predators more clearly.

Humans do not have to worry about being eaten, but what the scientists uncovered is a bit more than just an exercise in data collection. This has to be more than just gaining knowledge for writing journal articles.

Good scientific research is highly usable. It is not knowledge for the sake of knowing something. The University of York researchers uncovered some information no one knew before. What does that mean for us?

It is not known now whether or not this will help with correct vision problems. The findings were released just a few months ago, and the impact is still being analyzed. This kind of information may give insight to colorblindness but is yet to be determined. Perhaps some of the greatest impact is outside of the science of the eyes altogether.

This kind of research emphasizes the importance of the environment. People in York, England in the summer may have a different view of unique colors than someone in Bombay, India in June. The reason may be all about environment.

Someone in Alaska during the month of December could have a different perception than someone who’s living in Sydney, Australia. That is simply because the former is in the deep days of winter while the latter is enjoying summer months. It could have some influence on commercial products sold in various parts of the world. Certain colors may have to be adjusted with the understanding that the perception is different from one country to the other.

Pollution and Climate Change

It can also bring greater importance to the study of pollution. If environment does indeed affect our perception of color, whatever distorts the environment is going to play a role. Smog and carbon emissions could affect how we view color in ways we didn’t know before. The dark fog in the atmosphere could make us view color in a distorted way.

Perhaps in even larger impact may be in the area of climate change. Scientists are already saying that winters are going to be different as the seasons react to alterations. It may mean the changes in climate, brought on by whatever reasons, will have an influence on our view of color. Yellow, green, and red are all common safety colors. Will safety colors have to be adjusted to respond to environmental climate changes?

The Questions Move the Research

Investigation with value is going to result in a call for more probing of data and circumstances. This new understanding of color perception can result in some amazing breakthroughs. The field of vision therapy maybe improve because of a new appreciation of the environment’s role.

For now, the scientific community is still looking at the new evidence. The possibility of addressing vision problems from a different angle is not out of the question. There are definitely opportunities for new research brought on by what was uncovered at the University of York.

Seasons change and our eyes respond to that. The outside environment plays a greater role in determining color than we knew of before. It is possible that the new data will influence how we come to terms with pollution and climate change. The results are eye opening and we can’t wait to see where they take us!

About the Author

Avatar for Tyler Sorensen

Tyler Sorensen is the President and CEO of Rebuild Your Vision. Formerly, Tyler studied Aeronautics with the dreams of becoming an airline pilot, however, after 9/11 his career path changed. After graduating top of his class with a Bachelor of Science degree in Informational Technologies and Administrative Management, he and his brother decided to start Rebuild Your Vision in 2002. With the guidance of many eye care professionals, including Behavioral Optometrists, Optometrists (O.D.), and Ophthalmologists (Eye M.D.), Tyler has spent over a decade studying the inner workings of the eye and conducting research.

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One response to “How Our Eyes Adapt to Seasonal Color Changes”

  1. Avatar for Jennie Williams Jennie Williams says:

    Hi, I see predominance of colours in atmospheric light all the time. So yellow in October can become almost unbearable in its intensitity if I was say going to a builders merchant where there were lots of yellow lines on the ground and yellow vans. At Christmas the orange in the light ‘knocks out’ the reds and golds and makes them look heavy and unpleasant. In Spring the violet lights changes the colour of the grass and in summer blue can drain lots of colours whilst making reds and blues stand out too brightly.

    What we perceive isn’t just about our immediate surrounding environment. *leaves, flowers etc.) it is also about the subltle changes in the seasonal lightwaves themselves.

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