How Vision Works

Color Vision

The color-responsive chemicals in the cones are called cone pigments and are very similar to the chemicals in the rods. The retinal portion of the chemical is the same, however the scotopsin is replaced with photopsins. Therefore, the color-responsive pigments are made of retinal and photopsins. There are three kinds of color-sensitive pigments:

  • Red-sensitive pigment
  • Green-sensitive pigment
  • Blue-sensitive pigment

Each cone cell has one of these pigments so that it is sensitive to that color. The human eye can sense almost any gradation of color when red, green and blue are mixed.

In the diagram above, the wavelengths of the three types of cones (red, green and blue) are shown. The peak absorbancy of blue-sensitive pigment is 445 nanometers, for green-sensitive pigment it is 535 nanometers, and for red-sensitive pigment it is 570 nanometers.