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Ltryptophan's avatar

With the right light can you turn the lens in your eye into a microscope?

Asked by Ltryptophan (10243points) February 11th, 2010

So, I was putting water in a 5-gallon glass jug with a rubber stopper lid, and the rubber stopper would not stay in the top of the jug because the air was pushing it out. So what to do? I poked a hole in the rubber stopper with a surgical needle. Worked like a charm. Well, I happened to look at a light close by through the miniscule hole in the stopper. Usually when you look through even the tiniest hole you can get a clear image of the other side. This time the hole was so small that I could just make out the light bulb, but what was very apparent was a very clear image of the floaters in my eye. It was like looking through a microscope. I could see them crystal clear!

Did I turn my eye into a microscope by pumping just the right amount of focused light into it?

Could I put something tiny right near my eye and magnify it by the same means?

What is going on here?

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7 Answers

grumpyfish's avatar

I think you turned your eye into a pinhole camera!

When using my DSLR as a pinhole, dust on the sensor becomes very crisp, I think a similar thing happened with your eye. Because the light was shining through such a small opening, you got very crisp shadows of the floaters.

I’m going to have to try this now =)

Coting's avatar

I’m not too sure what you were trying to explain here.
Your eye can’t zoom in, the only way to make things look bigger is to bring the item to your face.
Then again when light goes through a very small hole is spreads out more, similar to when waves go through a harbour maybe you were catching the spread of this light through the hole.

I’m not too sure if what I said was right so wait until other people reply

SomNinja's avatar

It sounds like you’ve just seen the cells that are always floating around over your eyeballs!

I find it easier to see them on a sunny day.

deni's avatar

I dont even need to read the description. I know exactly what you mean. Its so fuckin cool, isn’t it? I can always see my eyelash roots EXTREMELY close up and it blows my mind. I was just explaining this to my boyfriend the other day. Or trying to explain it, anyhow. I was having a hard time. He said he’d never experienced it. I thought it was one of those things that, in the right light, happened to everyone but we just didn’t “talk about it” lol

gasman's avatar

…what was very apparent was a very clear image of the floaters in my eye. It was like looking through a microscope…

Here’s where I think you’re confused: Floaters (aka vitreous floaters, a more or less normal condition) are most apparent when looking at a featureless light background, such as out an airplane window looking down on clouds. When you look through a light microscope with no slide (or in the periphery of the subject) you get the same effect.

It doesn’t require an actual microscope to see these tiny floaters—the normal optics of your eye allows you to see the thread-like shadows they cast on the retinal image—but you have to have a blank background. Normally they’re made invisible by brain filtering.

The pinhole effect can overcome nearly any refractive error because it selects only the axial rays—light that enters the center of the cornea & lens perpendicular to their surfaces, hence without bending light to cause blur. If the pinhole is very small (in angular units) there might be diffraction effects as well that generate fringes, rings, etc, confusing the image.

Ltryptophan's avatar

@gasman I think @grumpyfish was spot on about the pinhole. You agree?

gasman's avatar

@Ltryptophan Yes, I agree. The pinhole casts sharper shadows.

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