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Expert to Discuss Limits of Human Vision

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Vision researcher David Williams, Ph.D., will discuss his work exploring the limits of human eyesight as part of a lecture series highlighting biological and biomedical research at the University of Rochester.

Williams will discuss his work with adaptive optics, the same technology that allows astronomers to take crisp images of the heavens by removing the twinkle from starlight, at 4 p.m. Friday, July 14, in the Case Methods Room (Room 1-9576) at the Medical Center. It’s the latest installment of the “Second Friday Science Social” lecture series geared mainly to faculty, staff and students at the University, though the general public is welcome as well. The lectures are free. More information is available at

Williams adapted technology originally developed by astronomers and turned it inward, adapting it to take the clearest images ever obtained of the living retina. The breakthrough enabled him to discover dozens of imperfections in the eye that were previously unknown, and to embark on ways to correct them. This has allowed companies to enhance LASIK and other vision-correction procedures to give people a level of eyesight once unheard of, greatly improving upon traditional reading glasses and contact lenses that corrected for only three types of imperfection.

The work has enabled his team to take direct photographs of the eye cells that are involved in color blindness, macular degeneration, and other diseases. Williams’ research has also formed the foundation for an ongoing collaboration between his group, other University scientists, and Bausch and Lomb.

Williams is the William G. Allyn Professor of Medical Optics in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. He is also director of the University’s Center for Visual Science, one of the greatest concentrations of vision researchers in the world. The center is known internationally for its breadth of research on topics ranging from the basic structure of the eye that gathers light, to how our brain puts together electrical signals to give us the experience of vision. He is a graduate of Denison University and earned his doctorate at the University of California at San Diego.

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