Skip to main content

colour vision

colour vision The ability of the eye to detect different wavelengths of light and to distinguish between these different wavelengths and their corresponding colours. In the mammalian eye this is achieved by the cone cells, which are located in and around the fovea near to the centre of the retina. The cone cells contain the light-sensitive pigment iodopsin, which – according to the trichromatic theory – exists in three forms, each form occurring in a different cone cell. Each form of iodopsin is sensitive to either red, blue, or green light. The relative stimulation of each type of cone will determine the colour that is interpreted by the brain. For example, if red cones and green cones are stimulated to an equal extent, the colour interpreted by the brain is yellow. See also colour blindness.

The compound eye of certain insects is also capable of colour vision.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"colour vision." A Dictionary of Biology. . 26 Apr. 2019 <>.

"colour vision." A Dictionary of Biology. . (April 26, 2019).

"colour vision." A Dictionary of Biology. . Retrieved April 26, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.