Sunday, 15 November 2015

Why Do Doctors Wear Green or Blue Scrubs?

Scrubs used to be white but it is rumoured that an influential doctor switched it to green because he thought it would be easier on a surgeon’s eyes.

If that's true, he was right after all; it's been found that green may help doctors see better in the operating room because it is the opposite of red on the color wheel.

Green could help physicians see better for two reasons:

First, looking at blue or green can refresh a doctor’s vision of red things, including the bloody insides of a patient during surgery. A University of California Psychologist, John Werner, said looking at red or pink for a long time can make the red signal to the brain fade (densensitizing the brain's perception of red), so looking at some green  from time to time can keep someone’s eyes more sensitive to variations in red.

Second, such deep focus on red, red, red can lead to distracting green illusions on white surfaces. These funky green ghosts could appear if a doctor shifts his gaze from reddish body tissue to something white, like a surgical drape. A green illusion of the patient’s red insides may appear on the white background. (You can try out this “after effect” illusion yourself.) The distracting image would follow the surgeon’s gaze wherever he looks, similar to the floating spots we see after a camera flash.

The phenomenon occurs because white light contains all the colors of the rainbow, including both red and green. But the red pathway is still tired out, so the red versus green pathway in the brain signals “green.”

However, if a doctor looks at green or blue scrubs instead of white ones, these disturbing ghosts will blend right in and not become a distraction, according to Paola Bressan, who researches visual illusions at the University of Padova in Italy.

So, although doctors trot down the street these days in a rainbow of patterned and colored scrubs, green may be a doctor’s best bet.

Source- Scienceline, a project of New York University's Science, Health and Environmental Reporting Program.

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