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Exploring a Short-Wavelength Sensitive Cone Mechanism to Brightness and Discomfort Glare

1 April 2010


Yellow lenses have long been reported to alter visual perception, including subjective impressions of brightness and discomfort glare. To date, no consensus has been reached regarding the physiological mechanism behind this altered perception, although recent research suggests a possible short-wavelength sensitive cone (S-cone) mechanism. An experiment was conducted to test the hypothesis that S-cones are responsible for the perceived increase in brightness and decrease in discomfort glare perception when viewing through yellow lenses. Thirty participants were asked to use neutral density filters to match perception of brightness and discomfort glare through colored filters and with no filters in low and high lighting conditions. Colored filters were selected to test the influence of S-cones versus M- and L-cone stimulation. Results show that, in a high-luminance outdoor setting, findings were consistent with decreased S-cone stimulation resulting in an increased perception of brightness. This was not found in lower luminance settings, or with the perception of discomfort glare at either luminance level. It is suggested that S-cone involvement in brightness perception through yellow lenses may be luminance-dependent and occur in opponent fashion, as has been postulated elsewhere in the literature.


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