Does Peoples' Ability to Use "Night Vision" Diminish With Age?

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Updated on Mar 22, 2013

Grade Level: 6th - 8th; Type: Physics (Optics) and Health Science


In this experiment, students will discover whether a person's ability to see under very dim lighting conditions diminishes with age.


The human brain controls all functions within the body. One of these functions is eyesight. The brain and the eyes work together so that people and animals can see. No one can see in pitch black darkness, but some people may still be able to see fairly well under dim lights.

The pupil is very important to the structure of the eye. It allows light to enter the retina so that we can regulate brightness and be able to see. The pupil dilates (responds) according to the amount of light it receives when we see. If there is a great amount of light, our pupils will look as tiny as a point, but under darkness, it gets wider.

Research Questions

  • What is the function of the pupil?
  • What is the difference between the pupils of humans and of cats? Does this difference allow cats to have any special abilities that humans lack?

Terms to Know

  • Eyesight
  • Optics
  • The brain
  • The eye
  • Parts of the eye


  • Test subjects of various age groups (kids 4-7, kids 8-12, teens 13-16, young adults 17-20, 21-25, 26-30 and so on in 5 years age-difference increments...until age 80); Have at least 5 people from each age group.
  • Dim lights
  • Various simple objects such as a ball, a can, etc.
  • A poster with words written on it
  • Pen and paper for notes

Experimental Procedure

  1. Dim the lights (not pitch black), leave a tiny bit of light. Put the objects you're going to test your test subject with near you.
  2. Test each subject separately. Put a few of your chosen “simple objects” in front of your test subject and ask them what they see. Keep note of whether they can see it and what they thought it is.
  3. Take out the poster with the text on it and ask them if they can read it and what it says. Also keep note of their response.
  4. Turn the lights back on and jot down the responses.
  5. Repeat steps 1-4 for all of your test subjects and keep note of their age and also whether they wear glasses/contacts or not.
  6. Record your results.


Cassin, B. and Solomon, S.Dictionary of Eye Terminology. Gainsville, Florida: Triad Publishing Company, 1990.

Sofia PC is currently a college student with a deep interest in science who is aspiring to become a writer. She writes about all sorts of things across all subjects including, but not limited to; science, crafts, and fashion. She hopes to become a good writer so she can share her thoughts and experiences with the world and future generations.

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