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Researchers Patent Blaze Orange Material That Can't See
Ophthalmology researchers have developed and patented a process for treating safety orange material to make it less visible to deer. This
is particularly significant for deer hunters. Hunting products featuring this technology will be available in the fall of 2006. These products will include safety vests and hats and will be marketed under
the trade name Covert Orange™.
Research ophthalmologists collaborated with wildlife biologists to determine how deer and elk perceive safety orange. According to ophthalmology researcher Dr. Lincoln Johnson, "Color vision in animals, including humans, depends upon the number and type of color-sensitive cells in the eye. Humans have three types of color-sensitive cells in
their eyes and are therefore termed "trichromatic". The three types of color-sensitive cells in the human eye are most sensitive to blue, green, or red light. The colors that we see are the result of the combined effects of blue, green, and red colored light that the eye receives from the environment. For example a plum, which humans see as purple, is really a combination of blue and red light that is sensed and mixed by the cells in the eye and sent to the brain as 'purple'. Remember mixing finger paints to make new colors? It's the same
When asked about the vision of deer and elk, Dr. Greg Hageman said, " Deer and other game animals differ from humans in that their eyes are sensitive to only two colors, blue and yellow, and they are therefore called 'dichromatic'. As a result, a human and a deer perceive the color of the same object differently. For example, regular safety orange material stimulates two of our three color-sensitive cells and, as a result, appears as a bright, vivid orange.
In deer, however, the safety orange color stimulates only the yellow-sensitive cells and thus is perceived as yellow. This is the first of two important reasons why Covert Orange™ works. The second reason is due to the fact that under certain conditions, when all of the color sensitive cells of the eye are equally stimulated, the color perceived by the brain is a "neutral point" gray-beige.
Researcher Dr. Don Anderson said, "This is true for humans as well as deer, however, because humans have three color-sensitive cells in their eyes, as opposed to two for deer, the color combination producing this 'neutral point' effect in deer is still perceived as a bright orange by human observers."
Covert Orange™ products utilize a patented combination of high intensity UV chemical in combination with legally approved daylight
fluorescent safety orange to equally stimulate the blue-sensitive and yellow-sensitive cells of the deer eye. The net effect is a "color correction" of its perceived color by deer from a bright yellow to a
neutral gray. As a result, Covert Orange™ is far less detectable when viewed by deer against foliage and terrain than is typical safety orange material. In spite of this tremendous advantage to the hunter, Covert Orange™ is still highly visible to fellow hunters and legal to wear in states such as Missouri and Colorado that require hunters to wear unbroken blaze orange.
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