Night vision is not something humans are capable of on their own. Cats, dogs, and other animals are capable of seeing in the dark, thanks to a membrane over their eyes called the tapetum lucidum. This membrane helps increase the light available to photoreceptors. It is also responsible for the greenish amber shimmering effect on the eyes of cats and dogs, known as “eyeshine.”
Humans don”t have the membrane, though, and that”s why we have to rely on things like night vision technology to navigate dark areas. However, thanks to our ever-expanding abilities in the field of science, giving people the gift of night vision might actually become a reality, although it won”t give you a cool eyeshine.
Gabriel Licina is a biochemistry researcher with Science for the Masses, a research group. Here he is sitting with his eyes propped open, Clockwork Orange-style.
Science for the Masses has lately worked with a compound known as Chlorin e6, or Ce6 for short. The compound is found in deep-sea fish, who also need the ability to navigate the darkness. In humans, it”s used to treat some forms of blindness and some cancers. Research on the compound shows that it increases photosensitivity in animals. So what was the next step? Human trials, of course.
(via Science For The Masses, Distractify)
After around two hours and the setting of the sun, the team went into a dark field to test Licina”s vision, which worked better than ever. His big pupils were able to take in lots of light, or at least more than the average eye. He was able to pick out objects and people hidden in the darkness, and was able to correctly spot and count them each time. People in the control group of this experiment got this specific problem right about a third of the time.
The effects of Ce6 on Licina”s eyes were not permanent, though. By the next morning, his eyes were back to normal, and no lingering effects were noticed. The Ce6 compound is obviously not ready to be used for medicinal purposes, but the ability to increase someone”s sensitivity to light could improve human eyesight in the future. You can see more about the experiment on Science for the Masses” website.