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The Science Behind Human Color Blindness in dark environment

By Ahmed MukPublished 5 months ago 3 min read

Humans typically have difficulty seeing colors in low-light or dark conditions due to the way our eyes and vision system work. In low-light situations, our eyes rely more on rod cells than cone cells. Rod cells are more sensitive to low levels of light but are not as sensitive to color as cone cells.

The human retina contains two types of photoreceptor cells: rods and cones. Cones are responsible for color vision and function better in bright light, while rods are more sensitive to low levels of light but do not perceive color as well as cones. In dark conditions, the eyes rely more on the rods, leading to a decrease in color perception.

When there is limited light, our vision shifts towards a monochromatic (black and white) mode, as the rod cells are more effective in detecting overall light intensity but are not specialized for distinguishing colors. This is known as scotopic vision, which is the vision of the eye under low-light conditions.

Rod Cells and Scotopic Vision

Rod cells are concentrated in the peripheral regions of the retina and are highly sensitive to low levels of light.

In dim light conditions, the eyes rely more on rod cells, leading to what is known as scotopic vision.

Scotopic vision is characterized by increased sensitivity to brightness but poor color discrimination.

Cone Cells and Photopic Vision

Cone cells, which are responsible for color vision, work best in well-lit conditions.

Photopic vision occurs in bright light and is associated with color perception and high visual acuity.

Cones are less sensitive to low light compared to rods.

Color Perception in Dim Light

As the eyes shift to scotopic vision in low-light conditions, the brain relies more on brightness and contrast rather than color information.

While some color discrimination is still possible in dim light, it is limited, and the perception tends to be more towards shades of gray.

Adaptation to Darkness

The process of adaptation occurs when the eyes adjust to changes in light levels.

When transitioning from a well-lit environment to a dark one, it takes some time for the eyes to adapt fully to the low-light conditions, and during this period, color vision may be less pronounced.

Rhodopsin and Light Sensitivity

Rhodopsin, a light-sensitive pigment present in rod cells, plays a crucial role in scotopic vision.

When exposed to light, rhodopsin undergoes a chemical change, triggering nerve signals that are sent to the brain.

Peripheral Vision Dominance

Rod cells are more concentrated in the peripheral regions of the retina, making peripheral vision more light-sensitive than central vision in low-light conditions.

In summary, the interplay between rod and cone cells, the presence of light-sensitive pigments like rhodopsin, and the adaptation of the eyes to varying light conditions collectively contribute to the differences in color perception between well-lit and dark environments. In the dark, our vision prioritizes brightness and motion sensitivity over color discrimination

In conclusion, humans perceive colors less vividly in the dark due to the shift in vision from photopic (bright-light) to scotopic (low-light) conditions. In low-light environments, the eyes rely on rod cells that are more sensitive to light but lack the ability to discern colors effectively. The transition from color-rich daylight to monochromatic night vision is facilitated by the interplay of rod and cone cells, adaptation mechanisms, and the presence of light-sensitive pigments like rhodopsin. Our visual system prioritizes brightness and contrast in the dark, leading to a reduced emphasis on color perception. This fascinating interplay between different types of photoreceptor cells allows our eyes to adapt to diverse lighting conditions, optimizing our vision for the surrounding environment.


About the Creator

Ahmed Muk

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