hero image

Contrast is one of the most commonly used aspects when trying to showcase something especially in comparison to another. Visual contrast is particularly important in highlighting something or making it stand out and the level of contrast is largely influenced by the amount of light shinning over a particular object. For example, black letters have higher contrast than grey letters and this is why it is easier to read black on while paper.

The above, combined with research findings at the State University of New York College of Optometry provide insights as to why studying in outdoor natural light is more stimulating that studying indoors. The researchers led by Dr. Hamed Rahimi-Nasrabadi found that contrast sensitivity and visual acuity heavily depend on the amount of light present at any given point.

According to the research findings, an increase in brightness influences the contrast sensitivity between light and dark stimuli. In other words, it is easier to make distinctions between light and dark elements in an environment with a lot of light. They also discovered that it is more difficult to make distinctions between bright elements or surfaces in a brightly lit environment.

The research findings pave way for interesting applications

The recent findings may explain why reading a book in outdoor natural light feels engaging and fulfilling. The contrast between the dark letters and white pages of the book stimulates the brain, leading to a more engaging experience. However, the benefits extend beyond just reading.

It was previously thought that luminance contrast remains the same despite changing light intensity. The recent research proves otherwise, meaning that the previously wrong assumption may have been used to create inaccurate conclusions on measurements regarding contrast. Fortunately, the recently concluded research may pave way for improved measurements especially on visual sensitivity, an aspect that is important when testing for visual impairment.

More accurate measurements could make a huge positive impact in various segment such as optical care, and the visual display industry. The findings could be used to develop more accurate algorithms for visual contrast metrics and image processing. Avid readers can also use this information to tap into more engagement when reading.