You have studied in the previous chapter about refraction of light by lenses. You also studied the nature, position and relative size of images formed by lenses. How can these ideas help us in the study of the human eye? The human eye uses light and enables us to see objects around us. It has a lens in its structure. What is the function of the lens in a human eye? How do the lenses used in spectacles correct defects of vision? Let us consider these questions in this chapter.
The human eye is one of the most valuable and sensitive sense organs. It enables us to see the wonderful world and the colours around us. On closing the eyes, we can identify objects to some extent by their smell, taste, sound they make or by touch. It is, however, impossible to identify colours while closing the eyes. Thus, of all the sense organs, the human eye is the most significant one as it enables us to see the beautiful, colourful world around us.
Sometimes, the eye may gradually lose its power of accommodation. In such conditions, the person cannot see the objects distinctly and comfortably. The vision becomes blurred due to the refractive defects of the eye.
You have learnt how light gets refracted through a rectangular glass slab. For parallel refracting surfaces, as in a glass slab, the emergent ray is parallel to the incident ray. However, it is slightly displaced laterally. How would light get refracted through a transparent prism? Consider a triangular glass prism. It has two triangular bases and three rectangular lateral surfaces. These surfaces are inclined to each other. The angle between its two lateral faces is called the angle of the prism. Let us now do an activity to study the refraction of light through a triangular glass prism.
You must have seen and appreciated the spectacular colours in a rainbow. How could the white light of the Sun give us various colours of the rainbow? Before we take up this question, we shall first go back to the refraction of light through a prism. The inclined refracting surfaces of a glass prism show exciting phenomenon. Let us find it out through an activity.
You might have observed the apparent random wavering or flickering of objects seen through a turbulent stream of hot air rising above a fire or a radiator. The air just above the fire becomes hotter than the air further up. The hotter air is lighter (less dense) than the cooler air above it, and has a refractive index slightly less than that of the cooler air. Since the physical conditions of the refracting medium (air) are not stationary, the apparent position of the object, as seen through the hot air, fluctuates. This wavering is thus an effect of atmospheric refraction (refraction of light by the earth’s atmosphere) on a small scale in our local environment. The twinkling of stars is a similar phenomenon on a much larger scale. Let us see how we can explain it.
The interplay of light with objects around us gives rise to several spectacular phenomena in nature. The blue colour of the sky, colour of water in deep sea, the reddening of the sun at sunrise and the sunset are some of the wonderful phenomena we are familiar with. In the previous class, you have learnt about the scattering of light by colloidal particles. The path of a beam of light passing through a true solution is not visible. However, its path becomes visible through a colloidal solution where the size of the particles is relatively larger.