Nov 7, 2012

The Perfect Defect: A Chinese Boy with Cat-Like Eyes Can See in the Dark

Nong Youhui is a young boy from Southern China who was born with Siamese bright blue eyes that allow him to see in pitch dark.

     An eye-specialist visited the boy, in his home village, in China’s Guanxi province, to examine his unusual eyes, the first thing he noticed when he arrived was that Nong’s eyes were light blue just like Westerners, but very unusual for Asians. He became even more intrigued when he noticed that when shined upon with a flashlight, the boy’s eyes would emit a kind of blue-green light, just like a cat’s. As it turned out, his eyes not only looked liked a feline’s they also allowed him to see and even read perfectly in total darkness.

 Night vision is made possible by a layer of cells, called the tapetum lucidum, in the eyes of cats and other nocturnal animals. This thin layer is a "retroreflector" — when a beam of light hits it, it reflects the light directly back along its incoming path. The reflected beam constructively interferes with the incoming light beam, amplifying the overall signal that hits the retina and enabling the animal to see in very low-light conditions. Retroreflection also causes cat eyes to flash when they are lit upon at night, and experts say Nong's eyes, if they are truly catlike, should do the same.
James Reynolds, a pediatric ophthalmologist at State University of New York in Buffalo, noted, "A video could capture eyeshine easily, just like in nature films of leopards at night."
The experts say Nong does have unusually colored irises considering his ethnicity and instead of a tapetum, Reynolds suggests the boy may just have an especially high number of rods (photoreceptors that work well in low light).

Watch the video :


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