When the eye is exposed to pulsed infrared (IR) light, it is perceived as visible of the corresponding half wavelength. Previous studies have reported evidence that this is due to a non-linear two-photon absorption process. We have carried out a study which provides additional support to this nonlinear hypothesis. To this end, we have measured the spectral sensitivity at 2 different pulse repetition rates and have developed a theoretical model to account for the experimental observations. This model predicts a ratio between the minimum powers needed to detect the visual stimulus at the 2 pulse repetition rates employed of 0.45 if the stimulus were detected through a nonlinear effect and 1 if it were caused by a linear effect as in normal vision. The value experimentally found was 0.52 ± 0.07, which supports the hypothesis of a nonlinear origin of the two-photon vision phenomena.
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