Why does my left eye see things tinted red and my right eye see things tinted blue?

Many years ago, I noticed that if I look at something (usually something fairly neutral or light-colored) with only my left eye, it looks distinctly red- or pink-tinted compared to the same thing viewed with both eyes. If I look at the same thing with only my right eye, it looks blue-tinted compared to the same thing viewed with both eyes. It’s never caused a problem as far as I know, and sometimes I amuse myself (when things get really, really, slow) by comparing the view from each eye.

My color vision has always been evaluated as normal (when getting eyes checked for new glasses, etc.). I am not color-blind. I asked my optometrist about it once, and he said he’d heard of the phenomenon (He’d heard that the dominant eye usually sees things more red), but didn’ t have a name for it and couldn’ t tell me why it happens.

So, does anyone know why this happens? Does it have a name? Is it simply that a person’s eyes, like other paired body parts, are rarely identical? I know people with one foot or breast slightly bigger than the other, so couldn’t one eye have cones that are more or less sensitive to particular colors of light?

No explanation, but I’ve got this too, although it’s the other way around for me.

You’ve got built in 3-D glasses. Lucky bastards!

Hey, yeah! I nocited that as a kid in grade school. When I was really bored I’d close one eye and everything had just a hint of a cyan or green tinge, then I’d close that eye and opent the other and there would be just hint of a magenta hue. Then I’d close that eye and open the other again…

Then the teacher would stop lecturing and ask what the hell I was doing, and I’d stop.

I’ve always kinda wanted to know about that too.

I suspect that the actual “imbalance” is in your brain, not your eyes. You should be able to change it holding pieces of colored cellophane in front of one of both eyes for, say 5-10 minutes to let you brain defelop a different compensation. We have visual centers that automatically “color correct” so that a shirt, for example, appears to remain the same color in sun, incandescent or fluorescent light. Perhaps your brain doesn’t bother balancing corrections, since it makes no difference tothe overall image

It sounds like you amuse yourself with such things. I do, too. Let us know if your experiments turn up anything. For example, in some people the habit may be strong enough to recur consistently after a transient change. In others, it may vary according to the last exposure. There are any number of environmental factors (lighting, variation in eyeglass lenses, etc.) that may offer slight support for a consistent bias is a given individual.

This is, however, only an informed guess.

Wow! I have this too, I’ve never mentioned it because I thought it was weird. :slight_smile:

The effect is much more pronounced for me if I have recently been in bright sunlight.

I suppose so. But I’m pretty sure there are different cones for each of the three colors red, green, and blue. So it’s possible that you just have a greater number of red-sensing cones, rather than more sensitive red-sensing cones. Or, it could be brain-based, as KP suggests.

One hypothesis I came up with a few years ago was when my optometrist was running through my yearly exam. He said that in the same way that we have adominant hand (either we’re left-handed or right-handed), we tend to have a “dominant eye.”

I keep forgetting to ask him if that would also affect rods and cones. Hopefully I’ll remember to ask him next time I’m there.

While KP’s hypothesis is plausible, I find the tint variations to be obvious instantly, not over a period of time and there is no adjustment, the one eye is always a bit more cyan the other is always a bit more magenta – there is no adjustment. Different lighting conditions do not affect it, I wear no corrective lenses of any kind. I could sit through an entire afternoon of classes and see the difference, even though the light and colour contrast has been consistent the entire time.

I’m 32 now and I probably noticed it back in the first grade.

So thinking of my optometrist’s “dominant eye” discussion, I’m guessing that in the same way I notice that one eye focusses a bit easier than the other, the dominant eye is processing colour a little better/faster/more accurately too.

Hey, I wonder if my optomertist would answer if I e-mailed him?

To figure out your dominant eye point at a random object then close one eye at a time. Your finger will line up better with one eye than the other.
The color difference could also be a result of less/more colour receptors in one eye than the other.

Are you moving toward the right at a significant fraction of the speed of light at the time?

There are a couple of things I’ve noticed that’ll change the colors perceived by one eye versus the other:
•Resting your face on your hand, so that the hand is putting pressure near one eyesocket. It takes a while for the asymmetry to develop, but the color differences are noticeable for some minutes after you take your hand away.
•Exposing yourself to an environment where light of different intensities or colors hits each eye. Examples of this situation, are driving down the road with the sun low, and to your left, or intentionally looking at a blue lightsource through one eye, and a red lightsource through the other. Again, the effect persists for some minutes after you end the stimulus.

In the first case, I suspect that pressure conducted through the eye to the optic nerve is the culprit. Phosphenes, visible bursts of color produced by the optic nerve, can also be produced in this way, but the shift in color perception appears to happen at lower pressures.

Visual purple (rhodopsin) buildup, may be partly responsible for the second situation, but there appears to be something else going on as well. I remember that back in the days of monochrome green monitors, too long a time at the computer would leave the whole world looking purple for 5 or ten minutes after stepping away from the screen.

I play with this one all the time, too. I see pretty well in low light as long as I’ve been in the dark (closed eyes, sleeping, etc.) long enough for visual purple to build up sufficiently. I manage a herd of servers, one of which routinely craps out in the dead of night, which means I’m online restarting some process or other while it’s still dark.

To ensure that I can find my way back to bed without hurting myself, I keep one eye shut while I’m working at the computer. After I’ve knocked some sense back into the recalcitrant machine and turned off the monitor, I close the eye I’ve been using, open the eye that I kept dark, and walk back to bed in confidence.

If I need a pit stop on the way, I can always pass the time by comparing the view from the eye that stayed dark and the view from the one that got the visual purple knocked out of it (Yes, I also have real hobbies that I pursue when I’m not trying to get back to sleep fast).

You also notice this if you are lying on your side in bed. The visual field of eye closest the ground (I think) has a red tinge.

Perhaps this has something to do with blood pressure.

If a person had a physical difference in the retinas between both eyes (eg cone type or chemical inbalance) then over time wouldn’t the brain compensate during processing of the data to remove this difference? Thus wouldn’t these sorts of difference between eyes just be a short term thing, before the brain compensates.

Maybe the reason is that each color has a different focal point in the retina. See this for example: http://www.fast-consulting.com/pretty/standards.htm

Heh. This cracked me up, but then I’m an astrophysics geek. Perfectly good question though. You should never rule out the doppler effect when it comes to color changes. :smiley:

I noticed this once too and at the time (at the age of about sixteen), wondered how I could be seeing colours differently with each eye and not have noticed before.

What it turned out to be is that I had been lying half asleep in the sunshine with my arm across my face, covering only one eye (although both eyes were closed) - the covered eye was more or less seeing nothing, the uncovered eye was seeing the bright red-orange colour of sunlight transmitted through my closed eyelid. When I rolled over and opened my eyes, the blue and red towel on which I was lying looked normal with the eye that had been covered, but looked turqouise and mauve to the eye that had been uncovered, because it had been desensitised to red.

Wow. I never noticed this until you brought it up. But with me, either one eye open is red, while both eyes upen are not.

Wasn’t there some guy who tried to argue that the doppler effect had made a red traffic signal look green?

Yep, I have also noticed this. But as others have said, it only seems to happen when there’s some difference between the eyes. Be it pressure related or light-intensity related.

Maybe it’s a tumor.