An area at the center of the human fovea, subtending a visual angle of only 7–8 min and hence hardly larger than the fixation area, is blue-blind in the sense of almost or entirely lacking blue-sensitive cones. This is a matter of foveal topography, not size of field, for in fields of this size elsewhere in the fovea or in the parafovea, blue-sensitive cones are well represented. The blue-cone system falls in sensitivity from the border of the photopic zone—the functionally all-cone area—to a minimum, usually to extinction, at its center. Other features of foveal topography oppose this trend: the density of cones rises and the macular pigmentation thins out toward the center of the fovea. Also the red- and green-cone systems display the opposite gradient; their sensitivities decline regularly from the center toward the borders of the fovea and beyond.
Tritanopia, though the rarest form of congenital color-blindness, is thus a regular feature of the center of the normal fovea. The existence of two neutral points in this condition, in the yellow and violet, has its basis in the observation that the luminosity curves of the red- and green-sensitive cones, drawn so as to cross in the yellow, cross again or fuse in the violet region. It is suggested that the blue-blindness of the fixation area is a final step in the general withdrawal of image vision from the short wavelengths of the spectrum, for which the chromatic aberration of the eye is greatest. The blue-blindness of the fixation area, taken together with the red-green blindness of more-or-less concentric zones of the near periphery, and the total colorblindness of the far periphery, raises the possibility that various zones of the normal retina display all the major forms of colorblindness. Trichromic vision is normal only in the broad, central annulus of the retina, which alone is ordinarily tested. Some instances of defective color vision may be similarly localized. The problems of both normal and defective color vision involve not only the presence or absence of certain visual pigments and types of cone, but their spatial distributions on the retinal surface, and their neural connections.
© 1967 Optical Society of AmericaFull Article | PDF Article
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