enter image description here

I found this image while reading optical instruments in physics. If we look at the uncorrected rays, we see that the image they outline gets inverted. So why don't people with myopic vision see images as inverted representations?

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    $\begingroup$ Could that diagram be exaggerated? Maybe the uncorrected ray in a real eye is focused just in front of the retina rather than in the middle of the eyeball. $\endgroup$
    – user137
    Jan 14, 2015 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @user137 even if that's the case then still it would be inverted, right? $\endgroup$
    – Soham
    Jan 14, 2015 at 17:47
  • $\begingroup$ @LucyferZedd - I slightly modified your wording. Please feel free to roll back, it's just a suggestion. $\endgroup$
    – AliceD
    Jan 15, 2015 at 1:50

2 Answers 2


You have misinterpreted the nature of the light rays shown in the diagram in the question. The two rays are representing light coming from the same (distant) point in the environment, that is, some small feature on an object is reflecting (or emitting) light in slightly different directions and reach the eye separated by a small amount (less than the width of the pupil). The rays are almost, but not quite, parallel. The two rays, coming from the same point, should be focused on the same point on the retina (as are the red rays corrected by the external lens). The spread of the uncorrected rays in myopia or hyperopia sends them to different places of the retina, causing the image to be out of focus, not upside down.

The path of light from an entire scene can be illustrated like this:

Moisey CC BY-SA 3.0 via commons.wikimedia.org

As this diagram shows, the image is upside down for all of us, in focus or not. That the image top is at the bottom of the retina is not especially important -- the cells doing the interpretation could have been located physically located anywhere as needed.

  • $\begingroup$ seems, it's not the light rays coming from different parts of the object reflecting the light, but rather the light rays reflecting off of the same part or closely adjacent part of the object but going to different parts of the eye, "misaligned rays"... a quote from opthobook: "punch a small hole in a paper card, and have your patient reread the eye- chart while looking through this pinhole. This technique can actually improve vision by several diopters. It works because the paper blocks most of the misaligned rays that cause visual blur, and allows the central rays to focus on the retina." $\endgroup$ Jan 15, 2015 at 4:14


Myopia does not cause image inversion. @mgkrebbs provides an answer with a clearer diagram than the one you have provided that illustrates how only the focussing ability, not the orientation, of an object changes.

However, an image can be inverted by special inversion glasses. Furthermore is that the brain can convert the image to the right way around.

Although myopic vision can't cause the inversion, the answer you're looking for is probably that perceptual adaptation, a phenomenon that occurs to correct our vision, comes into play in cases of inversion. The brain "gets used to" inverted images and what you visualise becomes the correct orientation. So lets say myopia did cause inversion, the person with naturally inverted vision wouldn't experience anything unusual.

Experimental Evidence

The below text from the wikipedia entry describes an experiment with inverting glasses. These glasses contained prisms that flipped the real world image before it reached the eye. Note the experiment was carried out in the in the late 1800s.

On a later experiment, Stratton wore the glasses for eight whole days. By day four, the images seen through the instrument were still upside down. However, on day five, images appeared upright until he concentrated on them; then they became inverted again. By having to concentrate on his vision to turn it upside down again, especially when he knew images were hitting his retinas in the opposite orientation as normal, Stratton deduced his brain had reprocessed his vision and adapted to the changes in vision.

A more recent study by Linden et al., 1999 confirmed the same thing happening with more up to date inverting glasses. The subjects reported slightly different results. Rather than the image being inverted, it was more the case that the subject felt their reality became inverted to match the inverted image. I can't see someone suffering with myopic vision being able to make this distinction since they would only be used to one orientation.

Figure 1 from Linden et al., 1999enter image description here

On removal of the glasses, the world becomes temporarily re-distorted, but normal vision and perception returns.

  • $\begingroup$ How myopic do you need to be to invert the image? I don't notice any problems taking my glasses off, so the image either isn't inverted or my brain adapts within the half a second it takes to remove the glasses. $\endgroup$
    – user137
    Jan 15, 2015 at 2:33
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    $\begingroup$ Undoubtedly interesting, but not relevant to the question; myopia does not cause image inversion. $\endgroup$
    – mgkrebbs
    Jan 15, 2015 at 3:07
  • $\begingroup$ @user137 I had doubts that myopia would cause inversion except in extremely severe (possibly only hypothetical) cases, but mgkrebbs explains why this wouldn't happen. Here I am just answering a hypothetical about the brain correcting an inverted image. $\endgroup$
    – James
    Jan 15, 2015 at 3:36

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