Addressing the Dress

The Dress Debate of 2015 has divided people around the world into two teams: Blue and Black versus White and Gold. However, this debate can be resolved with the knowledge that color is a visual perception, and is open to interpretation to all people. In our retinas, we have different color-sensing receptors that identify various levels of blue, red, and green. All of these different color sensors are stimulated in different amounts by light entering our eyes, and therefore, our brains interpret particular colors. However, it gets more complex, with the integration of the visual cues around The Dress that make us perceive two different color patterns. For example, if we take a color swatch from bright lighting conditions, and bring it into a shadow, our brain will perceive that color swatch as a darker color. Side-by-side, an identical color swatch can be perceived as two different colors! This is known as color constancy—a phenomenon that is responsible for causing the perceived color change based on surrounding colors and shadows. This further proves that we see the world with our brain, where the eyes are an eminent relay station, and that the brain itself is influenced by our experiences and assumptions.

Blog contribution by Anna Parfenova, Optometry Intern, College of Optometry, Western University of Health Sciences.