How Do Optical Illusions Work?

Published on
January 5, 2022

We’ve all encountered optical illusions at one point or another; but the thing you’ve likely wondered is: How do they work? How do they trick us into seeing something different from what is actually in front of us?

While nearly all optical illusions take advantage of the way our minds have learned to interpret the world around us, different types of illusions demonstrate different things about our visual system.

However, here we’ll just be going a bit deeper into the general idea of how our brain can be fooled by visual input.

optical_illusion_brain

The Brain-Eye Connection

As smart as our brain is (and it is smarter than many give it credit for), it cannot see on its own, relying on visual input from the eyes. However, the eyes function more like cameras, and aren’t capable of always effectively conveying complex visuals to the brain. So, at times, the brain gets confused.

This confusion can lead the brain to making mistakes like thinking something is moving when it is not, or “seeing” colors or shapes which aren’t actually there.

For one example, look at the image below. 

file-20191021-56194-ntcpji

The two squares marked A and B are the same shade of gray, despite how it may appear. This is due to our brain trying to determine the color by looking at the other squares around them.

optical_illusion_eye_brain

Filling in the Blanks

Because of the simple means of communication between the eyes and the brain, sometimes there is information that can’t get accurately communicated, so the brain makes its best guess based on what information it has received from the eyes. Most of the time, it’s correct.

But sometimes those guesses are wrong, due to the imperfect communication.

An Ongoing Mystery

Despite a great deal of research by many scientists into exactly how these illusions work, for many, we don’t know how the brain-eye link creates them. We do know now that the path the information from our eyes takes to get to the brain is rather long and complex, so confusion can arise at any stage of that journey. Generally, illusions in which the confusion arises later in that journey, the less we know about exactly why and how it happens.

However, more research is being done all the time, so maybe one day someone--perhaps even you!--will finally solve the mystery.

 

Testimonials


  • I haven't actually used the optometrist side, so my review is limited to the vision therapy offered.  This office was recommended by my occupational therapist for the treatment of my double vision following a stroke.


    Claire A.

  • Love this location. I had a brain injury accident from day one one. All the team make you feel you still important and hope in the horizon after when the medical system fell you miserably. Dr. Ikeda very professional and very understanding about your issue. Two tombs up.


    Jim K.

  • My husband and I were immediately impressed with Dr Ikeda. I was hit by a car while cycling which caused broken bones and three brain injuries. The brain injuries caused double vision. Dr. Ikeda examined my eyes and got me started on vision therapy with his occupational therapist who specializes in vision therapy.  She (Chris) is absolutely great.  I am impressed with the array of tools used to help recover my binocular vision.  I am doing things I never thought were possible (balance boards etc).  Chris pushes me and keeps me motivated. I really enjoy my sessions with her.  The office staff is always friendly and they have a wonderful appointment reminder tool that makes it easy to keep my calendar up to date. I am happy the rehab center at Little Co. of Mary recommended them!!


    Teresa S.

  • The Vision Therapy is handled in a separate office through a different door from the shared waiting room. Chris, the vision therapist, has a wide and varied assortment of tools, equipment and resources to best evaluate and treat most vision issues. After just a few visits, my double vision became easier to control, using exercises developed during the therapy process. It was time well-spent.


    Joe M.

  • I have been coming here since I can remember. I love it here. The staff is so amazing and nice. They explain everything they gonna do and never make you feel rushed. Dr. Ikeda has always been my doctor and I would never want another one. He is the doctor for my whole family and is always asking how everyone is doing. I am also so crazy about picking out my frames and have to try so many and each person who helps me take the time and lets me try them all on. I would never want to go anywhere else! I definitely would recommend this office to anyone looking for a great eye doctor.


    Kayla W.

Blog

Lighting-Assessment---Intensity-1

Lighting as Part of A Low Vision Evaluation

A low vision evaluation is in some ways similar to a regular eye exam, and in other ways entirely different. […]

Read More
josh-applegate-p_KJvKVsH14-unsplash

Can ADD/ADHD be a Vision Problem?

According to a study, approximately 20% of 4.5 million children currently identified as having ADHD may have been misdiagnosed. Furthermore […]

Read More
pexels-monstera-6186146

Are all magnifiers the same? The difference in optics between handheld magnifiers

Hand magnifiers are hand-held devices that can be placed over an object or text to enlarge or magnify what you […]

Read More
see all blogs

Contact Us To Amplify Your EyeCare

Amplify EyeCare of Greater Long Beach Logo

Working Hours

Monday & Wednesday
9:00AM–6:00PM

Tuesday & Thursday
8:00AM–5:00PM

Saturday
By appointment only

Friday & Sunday
Closed

 

 

Location
16816 Clark Ave, Bellflower, CA 90706, United States
Fax
(562) 867-8719
Website Accessibility Policy
Safety protocols page
privacy policy
Cancellation Policy
For Patients
appointment
Call Us
Referrals
Assessments
For Patients
appointment
Call Us
Referrals
Assessments
eyefile-adduserphone-handsetcalendar-fullarrow-uparrow-right linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram