Photochemistry of Vision pp 364-394

Part of the Handbook of Sensory Physiology book series (SENSORY, volume 7 / 1)

Visual Pigments in Man

  • William A. H. Rushton


The importance of being able to study the visual pigments in man lies in this; that visual performance depends upon the nature, amount and state of bleaching of the pigments in the rods and cones. There are two distinct ways in which visual pigments are related to vision. The first, (a), is easy to comprehend; roughly it is that receptors can only respond to the quanta they catch, and hence the spectral sensitivity of the receptor will correspond to the spectral absorption of the pigment it contains. The second, (b), is far more difficult to comprehend though the relation can easily be stated. Roughly it is that in recovery after bleaching, the logarithm of the visual threshold is raised by a quantity proportional to the fraction of pigment still in the bleached state.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Baker, H. D., Rushton, W. A. H.: The red-sensitive pigment in normal cones. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 176, 56–72 (1965).Google Scholar
  2. Baumgardt, E.: Mesure pyrométrique du seuil visuel absolu. Opt. Acta 7, 305–316 (1960).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Boynton, R. M., Ikeda, M., Stiles, W. S.: Interactions among chromatic mechanisms inferred from positive and negative increment thresholds. Vision Res. 4, 87–117 (1964).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Brindley, G. S.: The effects on colour vision of adaption to very bright lights. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 122, 332–350 (1953).Google Scholar
  5. — A photochemical reaction in the human retina. Proc. phys. Soc. (Lond.) B 68, 860–870 (1955).Google Scholar
  6. Campbell, F. W., Rushton, W. A. H.: Measurement of the scotopic pigment in the living human eye. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 130, 131–147 (1955).Google Scholar
  7. Collins, F. D., Morton, R. A.: Studies on rhodopsin. 3. Rhodopsin and transient orange. Biochem. J. 47, 18–24 (1950).PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Crawford, B. H.: The scotopic visibility function. Proc. phys. Soc. (London) B 62, 321–334 (1949).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Crescitelli, F., Dartnall, H. J. A.: Human visual purple. Nature (Lond.) 172, 195–197 (1953).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Dartnall, H. J. A., Goodeve, C. F., Lythgoe, R. J.: The quantitative analysis of the photochemical bleaching of visual purple solutions in monochromatic light. Proc. roy. Soc. A 156, 158–170 (1936).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. — — — The effect of temperature on the photochemical bleaching of visual purple solutions. Proc. roy. Soc. A 164, 216–230 (1938).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Denton, E. J., Walker, M. A.: The visual pigment of the conger eel. Proc. roy. Soc. B 148, 257–269 (1958).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Warren, F. J.: Visual pigments of deep-sea fish. Nature (Lond.) 178, 1059 (1956).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Dowling, J. E.: The chemistry of visual adapation in the rat. Nature (Lond.) 188, 114–118 (1960).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Goodeve, C. F., Lythgoe, R. J., Schneider, E. E.: The photosensitivity of visual purple solutions and the scotopic sensitivity of the eye in the ultra-violet. Proc. roy. Soc. B 130, 380–395 (1942).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hagins, W. A.: The quantum efficiency of bleaching rhodopsin in situ. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 129, 22–23P (1955).Google Scholar
  17. Hecht, S.: Rods, cones and the chemical basis of vision. Physiol. Rev. 17, 239–290 (1937).Google Scholar
  18. Hecht, S., Shlaer, S., Pirenne, M. H.: Energy, quanta and vision. J. gen. Physiol. 25, 819–840 (1942).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Hubbard, R.: The molecular weight of rhodopsin and the nature of the rhodopsin-digitonin complex. J. gen. Physiol. 39, 381–399 (1954).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Krope, A.: The action of light on rhodopsin. Proc. nat. Acad. Sci. (Wash.) 44, 130–139 (1958).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Wald, G.: Cis-trans isomers of vitamin A and retinene in the rhodopsin system. J. gen. Physiol. 36, 269–315 (1952).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Jancso, N. v., Jancso, H. v.: Fluoreszenz, mikroskopisches Beobachten der reversiblen Vitamin A-Bildung in der Netzhaut während des Sehaktes. Biochem. Z. 287, 289–290 (1936).Google Scholar
  23. Kühne, W.: Zur Photochemie der Netzhaut. Untersuch, physiol. Inst. Univ. Heidelberg 1, 1–14 (1878).Google Scholar
  24. Ludvigh, E., McCarthy, E. F.: Absorption of visible light by the refractive media of the human eye. Arch. Ophthal. 20, 37–51 (1938).Google Scholar
  25. Maxwell, J. C: Scientific papers. Cambridge, Univ. Press. Vol. 1, 126–154 (1890).Google Scholar
  26. Ripps, H., Weale, R. A.: Cone pigments in the normal human fovea. Vision Res. 3, 531–543 (1963).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. — —: Photo-labile changes and the directional sensitivity of the human fovea. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 173, 57–64 (1964).Google Scholar
  28. — —: Time exposures and flash photolysis of rhodopsin in the living human eye. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 196, 67–68 P (1968).Google Scholar
  29. Rushton, W. A. H.: Foveal photopigments in normal and colour-blind. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 129, 41–42P (1955).Google Scholar
  30. — The difference spectrum and photosensitivity of rhodopsin in the living human eye. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 134, 11–29 (1956a).Google Scholar
  31. — The rhodopsin density in human rods. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 134, 30–46 (1956b).Google Scholar
  32. — Physical measurement of cone pigment in the living human eye. Nature (Lond.) 179, 571–573 (1957).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. — Kinetics of cone pigments measured objectively on the living human fovea. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 74, 291–304 (1958).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. — Rhodopsin measurement and dark-adaptation in a subject deficient in cone vision. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 156, 193–205 (1961).Google Scholar
  35. — A cone pigment in the protanope. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 168, 345–359 (1963a).Google Scholar
  36. — Cone pigment kinetics in the protanope. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 168, 374–388 (1963b).Google Scholar
  37. — Flash photolysis in human cones. Photochem. Photobiol. 3, 561–577 (1964a)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. — Chlorolabe in the normal eye. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 170, 10–11P (1964b).Google Scholar
  39. — A foveal pigment in the deuteranope. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 176, 24–37 (1965a).Google Scholar
  40. — Cone pigment kinetics in the deuteranope. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 176, 38–45 (1965b).Google Scholar
  41. — The Ferrier Lecture: Visual adaptation. Proc. roy. Soc. B 162, 20–46 (1965c).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. — The Newton Lecture: Chemical basis of colour vision and colour blindness. Nature (Lond.) 206, 1087–1091 (1965d).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Rushton, W. A. H.: Stray light and the measurement of mixed pigments in the retina. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 176, 46–55 (1965e).Google Scholar
  44. — Rod/cone rivalry in pigment regeneration. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 198, 219–236 (1968).Google Scholar
  45. Campbell, F. W.: Measurement of rhodopsin in the living eye. Nature (Lond.) 174, 1096–1097 (1954).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. — — Hagins, W. A., Brindley, G. S.: The bleaching and regeneration of rhodopsin in the living eye of the albino rabbit and of man. Opt. Acta 1, 183–190 (1955).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Gubisch, R. W.: Glare: its measurement by cone thresholds and by the bleaching of cone pigments. J. opt. Soc. Amer. 56, 104–110 (1966).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Henry, G. H.: Bleaching and regeneration of cone pigments in man. Vision Res. 8, 617–631 (1968).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Schneider, E. S., Goodeve, C. F., Lythgoe, R. J.: The spectral variation of the photosensitivity of visual purple. Proc. roy. Soc. A 170, 102–112 (1939).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Stiles, W. S.: The directional sensitivity of the retina and the spectral sensitivities of the rods and cones. Proc. roy. Soc. B 127, 64–105 (1939).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Stiles, W. S.: Separation of the “blue” and “green” mechanisms of foveal vision by measurements of increment thresholds. Proc. roy. Soc. B 133, 418–434 (1946).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Stiles, W. S.: Increment thresholds and the mechanisms of colour vision. Docum. Ophthal. (‘s-Grav.) 3, 138–163 (1949).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Stiles, W. S.: Further studies of visual mechanisms by the two-colour threshold technique. Coloq. probl. opt. vis. (Madrid) 65–103 (1953).Google Scholar
  54. Stiles, W. S.: The basic data of colour matching. Phys. Soc. Yearbook 1955, 44–65. Physical Society, London 1955.Google Scholar
  55. Stiles, W. S.: Colour vision: the approach through increment threshold sensitivity. Proc. nat. Acad. Sci. (Wash.) 45, 100–114 (1959).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wald, G.: The receptors of human color vision. Science 145, 1007–1017 (1964).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wald, G.Brown, P. K.: The molar extinction of rhodopsin. J. gen. Physiol. 37, 189–200 (1953). Wald, G. Brown, P. K. Smith, P. H.: Iodopsin. J. gen. Physiol. 38, 623–681 (1955).Google Scholar
  58. Weale, R. A.: Photo-sensitive reactions in foveae of normal and cone-monochromatic observers. Opt. Acta 6, 158–174 (1959).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Weale, R. A.: Limits of human vision. Nature (Lond.) 191, 471–473 (1961a).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Weale, R. A.: Further studies of photo-chemical reactions in living human eyes. Vision Res. 1, 354–378 (1961b).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Weale, R. A.: Photo-chemical changes in the dark-adapting human retina. Vision Res. 2, 25–33 (1962).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Williams, T. P.: Photoreversal of rhodopsin bleaching. J. gen. Physiol. 47, 679–689 (1964).PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Wright, W. D.: A re-determination of the trichromatic mixture data. Med. Res. Council Spec. Rep. 139, 1–38 (1929).Google Scholar
  64. Wright, W. D.: The breakdown of colour match with high intensities of adaptation. J. Physiol. (Lond.) 87, 23–33 (1936).Google Scholar
  65. Wright, W. D.: Researches on normal and defective colour vision. London: Henry Kimpton 1946.Google Scholar
  66. Young, T.: On the theory of light and colours. Phil. Trans, roy. Soc. 12–48 (1802).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag, Berlin · Heidelberg 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • William A. H. Rushton
    • 1
  1. 1.CambridgeGreat Britain

Personalised recommendations