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Access Excellence Classic Collection

How We See:
The First Steps of Human Vision Resources


Printed Articles and Books

Seeing the Cells That See. January 1995. Marguerite Holloway, Scientific American, Volume 272, Number 1, Page 27.

Ever since the eye's rods and cones were discovered, scientists have been trying to observe them in action. But the retinal photoreceptors, which change light into electrical pulses the brain can process, are so tiny and their flashes of activity so brief that they have eluded researchers. Finally, last fall, a team led by David R. Williams of the University of Rochester managed to peek at and photograph human cones.

How Photoreceptor Cells Respond To Light . April, 1987. Julie L. Schnapf, Denis A. Baylor. Scientific American. Page 40.

New information about how light energy is changed into neural signals shows how an individual photoreceptor cell of the eye registers the absorption of a single photon, or quantum of light.

The Functional Architecture Of The Retina. December, 1986. Richard H. Masland. Scientific American. Page 102.

Dozens of kinds of cells have specialized roles in encoding the visual world. have made it possible to study the arrangement and interconnections of entire populations of cells.

The Molecules Of Visual Excitation. July, 1987. Lubert Stryer. Scientific American. Page 42.

When a rod cell in the retina absorbs light, a cascade of reactions results in a nerve signal. That cascade has now been worked out in molecular detail. A key intermediate is a protein called transducin.

Biochemistry. 1988. 3rd edition, Lubert Stryer, W. H. Freeman and Co., New York. pps. 1027-1039. A detailed college level book on biochemistry. Good section on the biochemistry involved in vision

Biology. 1993. 3rd edition, Neil A. Campbell, The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Company, Inc., Redwood City, California. pp. 1019-1026. A college level book on biology. Good illustration and descriptions of the biology of vision.

Braving the Elements. 1995. W. Troggler, J. Simon and H. Grey, University Science Books, Mill Valley, CA. pp. 291-294. Good introductory level book on many aspects of chemistry in everyday life.

Breakthroughs: A Chronology of Great Achievements in Science and Mathematics, 1200-1930. 1985, Claire L. Parkinson, G. K. Hall, Boston, Massachusettes. A chronology with some entries on developments of our understanding of vision.

Dictionary of Science and Technology 1981, edited by W.F. Bynum, E.J. Browne, Roy Porter. Macmillan, London. pp. 438-439. Short exerpt on vision highlighting the major advancements and contributors.

Eye, Brain, and Vision. 1988. David H. Hubbel, Scientific American Library. Chapters 1,2,3 and 8. Comprehensive book on vision. Written for the non-specialist.

The History of Science and Technology; A Narrative Chronology. 1988, Volume 2, Facts on File, New York. pps. 616, 667-668.

Photoreceptors: Their Role in Vision. 1982. Alan Fein and Ete Z. Szuts, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England. This book is a good overall introduction to photoreceptors. It is for those who want more comprehensive and detailed information.

World of Scientific Discovery. 1994. Bridget Travers, editor; Jeffrey Muhr, assistant editor, Gale Research, Detroit, Michigan.

World Wide Web Sites

The Eye in Health and Disease

The eye has been called the window to our soul, and in many ways it is also a window into the general health of the body. Nowhere else in the body can the internal blood vessels and a direct extension of the brain be seen so clearly during a simple examination. There are a multitude of illnesses that can be diagnosed by detecting characteristic changes in the eye. This page looks at some of them.

Vision Science

This page contains many links to research on vision in humans and other organisms. Includes sections on new research, research groups and laboratories, organizations concerned with vision and vision research, information on conferences and software, and more.

The Eye

Nice page that examines the various structures of the eye and their functions. Primarily text- good, clear descriptions.

American Academy of Ophthamology

Great site packed with information. Includes sections on exhibits, definitions, eye care, hot topics, a quiz, and general information. Lots of graphics!

How to Fix an Eye--Access Excellence Science Seminar Series

Seminar discusses photoreceptors and vision, both normal and abnormal. Seminar includes list of resources and activities, as well as images.

A Chronological History of Vision Research: 1600-1960

There are many well known accounts of the history of visual science but it seems hard to find a simple chronological listing of major events. Sometimes such a list can be helpful in gaining a quick historical perspective. This note presents a chronology listing 133 significant events between 1600 and 1960. In addition, for completeness sake, there is a brief preliminary section that sketches the history of visual science before 1600. All of this material is based on standard secondary sources: the author (Jack Yellott) is not a specialist in the history of science, and the object here is not to contribute anything new to the history of vision research but rather simply to collate material already scattered throughout the literature--though of course the choice of "significant" events is idiosyncratic.

Kits and Demonstrations

Numerous kits, activities and visual aids can be found for VISION in both the Carolina Biological and Wards Biological Laboratory Supplies Catalog. For example items such as "Sight and Sound Lab" (#36 W 4425) and the "Visual Perception Lab Activity" (#36 W 4434) are listed in the Wards catalog. Additionally several books and charts are listed in these catalogues. See index under EYE, VISION.

Carolina Biological Supply Company
2700 York Road
Burlington, North Carolina 27215
(800) 334-5551

Wards Biological Laboratory Supplies Catalog
PO Box 92912
Rochester, NY 14692
(800) 635-8439

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