The Mystery of Optical Illusions

Written by Lisa DiMauro | July 13th, 2015

Have you ever wondered how an optical illusion works? It has always mystified me so I decided to look into it. An optical illusion is literally the experience of seeing something either differently from how it actually appears or something that simply doesn’t exist! How wild is that? Optical illusions can use color, light and patterns to create images that can be deceptive to our brains. This phenomenon occurs because our brain is simply trying to determine what it is we are looking at and, in the process of attempting to make sense of it, an optical illusion is created. Apologies for the vision puns in advance, but this is something I had to look into.

I was curious whether people with better vision – i.e. those unfortunate individuals who do not get to partake in the daily fashion endeavor of picking out beautiful specs to match their outfits – were more likely to “see” an optical illusion than someone with vision “problems” (aka opportunities). As it turns out, the two groups actually do see the images in a slightly different way. It is even believed that there are some optical illusions that only people who need to wear glasses can see! So there you go!

optical-illusion-11For my New Yorkers out there, or anyone following the swarm of social media surrounding #manhattanhenge, I invite you to join me between 8 and 8:30pm tonight to check out a fascinating, live optical illusion known as “manhattanhenge.” Just before and after the summer solstice, as the sun approaches the horizon, there occurs an optical illusion where it appears that the sun sets in alignment with the streets that run east to west on Manhattan’s street grid. It is one of the most beautiful sunsets you will ever feast your eyes on and definitely worth pushing through all the crowds to get a glimpse and maybe even capture a photo? See you there!

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