Photochemical Aspects of Vision

  • Hugh Davson


The receptors that mediate vision at night are the rods which, as mentioned earlier, contain a pigment—visual purple or rhodopsin—responsible for the absorption of light in the primary photochemical event leading to sensation. According to the photochemist, then, the visual process consists of the absorption of light by a specialized molecule, visual purple or rhodopsin. The absorption of light provides the rhodopsin molecule with a supply of extra energy and it is said, in this state, to be ‘activated’. In this activated state it is highly unstable and so it will change to a new form, i.e. the molecule will undergo some kind of chemical change by virtue of this absorption of energy. The effects of this change will be to cause an ‘excited’ condition of the rod as a whole and it will be this excited condition that will ultimately lead to the sensation of light.


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© Hugh Davson 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hugh Davson
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.St. Thomas’s HospitalSouthampton University Medical SchoolsLondonUK
  2. 2.King’s CollegeLondonUK
  3. 3.University CollegeLondonUK

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