The famous Prado Museum in Madrid has opened up a new exposition for the blind by making a combination of elaborate copies of six of the museum’s masterworks through 3D printing and painted reproductions. The whole idea is for the blind to be able to touch the works and open up a whole new arena of accessibility to the visually impaired.
The Prado is one of the museums that we here at Webvision have not yet made it to. One of these days, that will have to happen.
This is another area where 3D printing can revolutionize people’s lives. Making 3D prints from photographs enables physical representation of imagery. The Singapore based company that is doing this social experiment is called called Pirate3D with easy to use 3D printers. The director of this film short, Marco Aslan tells a story of five people, Gabor, Mario, Meritxell, Yassine and Daniela who have lost their eyesight, yet each has a vivid memory captured in time on a photograph. These photographs were then modeled and printed in 3D allowing each person to re-experience that photograph through touch.
Many of the visitors to Webvision are students at a variety of levels from grade schools all the way on up to medical students and biomedical graduate students. One of the things that often does not get discussed at any level of science education is: How to read a scientific paper. It is a different skill set than other kinds of literature and how to properly extract information from a scientific paper is an art that is built over years of reading, thinking and writing.
Photographer Suren Manvelyan has produced an amazing collection of photographs of eyes over the last couple of years. He started with a phenomenal set of images from human eyes and has now expanded his collections to include 3 sets of animal eyes. Part 1, Part 2 and now Part 3.
Spending some time looking through them is a good investment, particularly if you consider the evolution that has shaped the biology as looking at the different structures of the outer eyes gives you clues as to the environments these organisms live in.
A Lo-Fi video, but largely correct and a pretty well done explanation of why we have blind spots in our eyes and the general physiological reason for why we don’t typically “see” or notice our blind spots.
This is important for scientists and non-scientists alike. You might be surprised at how many people do not know someone who is blind or has gone through a blinding disease. You might be further surprised at how many scientists that are engaged in vision research do not really know what its like to have gone through vision loss or have similarly interacted with someone who is going blind. As I’ve said before in The Judgment Of Solomon post, “Every scientist studying vision and diseases affecting vision should have the opportunity to spend time with those who have lost sight. It is important for people in the sciences to sit down and talk with those affected by the disease they study.”
The subject of this short, Mark has a cone/rod dystrophy due to a defect in the ABCA4 gene, which codes for an ATP-binding cassette transporter family. Kris Palczewski’s group has shown that these defects ultimately cause a buildup of all trans retinal in the outer segments of the photoreceptors and leads to likely oxidative damage, cell stress and photoreceptor toxicity. This photoreceptor toxicity then ultimately results in photoreceptor cell death and blindness.
There are species of shark that are bioluminescent and have evolved ocular structures designed to detect faint light patterns in the deep ocean produced by other bioluminescent sharks that live at depths from 600 to 3,000 feet in the mesopelagic zone where very little sunlight reaches.
These eyes as expected, have visual adaptations optimized for this environment. Julien Claes, the lead authors of a new study notes that “There are about 50 different shark species that are able to produce light”. Given that there are 50 separate bioluminescent species of shark, one might expect some visual system specializations and indeed there are. Everything from higher rod densities to descriptions of bioluminescent specializations used for communication and specialized transparencies in the upper socket of the eye to help adjust illumination. Continue reading “Glowing Sharks Have Unusual Eyes”
We’ve talked about jumping spiders before here on Webvision as they are an amazing animal with very well developed vision. However, their retinas and visual pathways are very different from the vertebrate retinas in that they use image defocusing for depth perception rather than parallax like humans and other vertebrates do. Figuring out spider vision has been a long standing effort by a small group of scientists and one of the problems of observing spiders is figuring out how they scan. The movie above however shows a transparent jumping spider with the pigment cells in its eyes/retinas moving while they scan an image. There is another pretty impressive movie here, showing a microscopic view into the retina of a living jumping spider.
Benham’s Top or Benham’s disk is named after Charles Benham, a toy maker but also an amateur scientist who contributed and published articles to the likes of Nature. Benham’s observation with a toy top was relayed through an article in Nature in 1894 that described a visual phenomenon generated by a toy top painted like the above image. When spun, the Fechner color effect is perceived. Not everyone perceives the same colors…
The Paul Kayser International Award in Retina Research was created by the Directors of Retina Research Foundation and endowed by the Trustees of The Kayser Foundation to honor and perpetuate the memory of long-time friend and dedicated benefactor of RRF, Paul Kayser. Through this award both organizations are demonstrating the conviction they shared with Mr. Kayser that blindness caused by retinal disease is a global concern and must be addressed accordingly. It is thus the purpose of this award to foster greater awareness of the need for intensive study of the retina, its role in the visual process, and the retinal diseases that threaten and/or destroy eyesight by recognizing outstanding achievement and sustaining meritorious scientific investigations worldwide.
Dr. Marc was chosen as the recipient of this award for his lifetime body of work in retinal research, discovering the structure and function of the retina through novel technologies and approaches that have pushed our understanding of the retina forward.