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Simplifying Colorimetry

Precision coloured lenses using ColorimetryColorimetry is properly defined as the technology which exactly quantifies how humans perceive colors. This entails the use of instruments in order to specify the colors with the help of visual standards or spectroscopic as basis.

Interestingly, each individual has a slightly different perception of color. Though the colors like blue, red, green and others seem like they are standardized, each person can perceive these colors in varying ways.

Since the 1990’s coloured lenses have been used to treat vision problems similar to eye strain.  Firstly using coloured overlays but with the advent of Colorimetry to Optometrical eye examination, precision coloured spectacle lenses were able to be accurately prescribed and thus manufactured.

Colorimetry is often interchanged with spectrophotometry which focuses on measuring the reflective property of certain objects. The main difference is that colorimetry is more streamlined to reducing the spectra such that it results to measurement of color perception.

Tools and Instruments

Since colorimetry is about precision, there are certain tools which have to be used in order to get quantified results. Some of the instruments are the same with the ones which are used for spectrophotometry but can also be functional in determining color perception. Here are the instruments used which are also referred to as colorimeter.

•    Tristimulus colorimeter. This is used in obtaining the exact tristimulus value of a color; Tristimulus value is the three combined values that are put together to describe the perceived color.
•    Densitometer. This is focused on measuring the optical density of a material or the amount of light which is reflected by a certain object.
•    Color temperature meter. This is also used in photography since it only reads two regions within the visible spectrum.
•    Spectrophotometer. It shows the measurement of transmittance or reflectance of various materials

Parts of Colorimeters

There are various instruments which can be used for colorimetry. The colorimeters have three general components so that the quantitative measurement would remain constant and accurate. The three parts include the following:

•    Light source. This is essential to be able to take the necessary measurement
•    Cuvette. This is the container for the solution which will be used as the sample
•    Photocell. Primarily determines the amount of light that is transmitted by the solution which was placed in the cuvette

Some of the colorimeters are small enough to be held on a single hand. These more portable ones are used for field testing. On the other hand, there are also more complex colorimeters which can be found in laboratories.

Applications of Colorimetry

Aside from its significance in the world of chemistry, there are certain industries for which colorimetry plays an important role. Among which are the following:

•    Water quality testing for clean water and waste water because this technique is the key in determining what components are present in the water like chlorine, cyanide, zinc and others
•    Identifying the amount of nutrients in plants like ammonia, phosphorous and others
•    It is used for blood testing to examine the hemoglobin and be able to see whether there are traces of inferior-quality drugs
•    Testing of various food products and ingredients to determine the safety
•    Measuring exact consistency of materials for production of textile and paint

In many industries which demand exact determination of components, this technology can be very useful.

About the Author

Dr Jim Kokkinakis (Optometrist) graduated in 1983 from the Optometry School University of NSW. He is currently a Senior Lecturer there and regular speaker to both Optometrists and Ophthalmologists in Australia and Internationally. He has a specialist clinical practice in the Sydney CBD with interests in Eye Strain, Computer Vision problems, Treatment of Eye Diseases and complex Contact lens Fittings.

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