One of the coolest things about studying engineering is getting hands-on experience and exposure to real-life applications in class. In Physics 153, Optics and Modern Physics, we have three hours of lab time each week where we get to replicate experiments, natural phenomenon, and theories developed by renowned physicists and engineers.
As we are currently studying the laws of reflection and refraction, this week’s lab was all about the human eye and how light waves travel through them to produce an image. In order to simulate our eye, we used a circular shaped metal mold with a window covered by a meniscus lens. The mold served as the sclera while the lens represented our cornea. In order to mimic the aqueous humor behind the cornea and our eye’s natural lens, we filled the tank with water and placed a +20 diopter lens just behind the meniscus lens.
By moving the retina around the mold we were able to understand how nearsightedness, farsightedness, and astigmatisms work. The most exciting part of the experiment was learning to correct the different eye problems by placing a series of divergent and convergent lenses outside the mold depending on the particular issue. For three hours this week I got to be an optometrist!! We got to test how spherical lenses really do correct far or near-sightedness and cylindrical lenses can help people with astigmatisms see clearly.
These labs definitely add a new dimension to my learning experience and allow me to grasp a better conceptual understanding of the material we cover in class. Learning and understanding how certain technology can have such a positive impact on the overall quality of a person’s life is super rewarding and reminds me of why engineering sparked an interest in me early on!