Chemical biology news from across RSC Publishing.
Chlorophylls help eyes see red
31 May 2007
Eating your greens rather than carrots could be the key to good night-time vision, according to scientists in the US. Ilyas Washington and colleagues at Columbia University, New York, have shown that a chlorophyll derivative can enhance eye sensitivity to red light.
Chlorophyll derivative chlorine e6 enhances eye sensitivity to red light
In sight, light activates a visual pigment that sends an electrical signal to the brain. This process happens in the retina in cone and rod cells. Rod cells are insensitive to colour and the cone cells are mainly responsible for our colour vision. However, in dim light the cone cells cannot function and we largely perceive the world in black and white. This also means we are dependent on rod cells to see in the dark. Since these cells are particularly insensitive at the red end of the visible spectrum, Washington asked: 'How might one enhance red light night-time vision?'
- Ilyas Washington
Washington is currently performing similar research in people. It is possible that taking a chlorophyll derivative supplement could improve night vision, he said.
Link to journal article
Chlorophyll derivatives as visual pigments for super vision in the red
Ilyas Washington, Jilin Zhou, Steffen Jockusch, Nicholas J. Turro, Koji Nakanishi and Janet R. Sparrow, Photochem. Photobiol. Sci., 2007, 6, 775