Optics and You

December 5, 2006

I just got a new pair of glasses (the last pair met with an unfortunate incident while going through a major intersection on a bike). Still getting used to them. Unlike the previous pair, these lenses are polycarbonate, which is more shatter resistant but, I found to my dismay, much more prone to chromatic aberration than the old plastic ones. Things on-axis are in perfect focus, but as you look to the side, the red is displaced outward and the blue inward, and objects become fuzzy. (Of course, if what you’re looking at is already red or blue, they look fine off-axis.)

If you’re in the market for new glasses, Wikipedia (which, of course, knows all), can tell you about the different materials you can choose for your corrective lenses. If you really want to be old-fashioned, you can apparently still get lenses in crown glass.

For a few minutes of amusement waving your finger in front of your face, you might take a look at this 1952 note in the American Journal of Physics titled “Chromatic Aberration in the Eye“.

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