The visual system has developed to allow us to navigate in a complex and dangerous world in order to find food and to avoid danger. This survival system works by building a complex three-dimensional model based on two-dimensional data from the retina. This model is tested against "reality" and checked with information from other senses and updated if needed. The brain suppresses the complexity of this processing and we believe that vision is instantaneous, real and effortless. But is seeing just an illusion?
For transcript and download versions of this lecture, please visit the event's page on the Gresham College website: Why we see what we do
As well as being the Gresham Professor of Physic, Professor William Ayliffe is a Consultant Ophthalmologist in the NHS and at the Lister Hospital in London. In addition to being a practicing clinician and teacher, he also continues to carry out clinical research into the prevention of blindness.
After taking a first in Immunology at Imperial College, Professor Ayliffe qualified in Medicine in St. Bartholomew's Hospital London. Specializing in inflammatory eye diseases and corneal and cataract surgery he held a research registrar post at Oxford, before training in clinical ophthalmology in Bristol, Manchester and Harvard USA. His PhD was on mechanisms of corneal transplant failure. He has worked in developing countries and also with ORBIS, the international flying eye hospital. In addition to general ophthalmology, Professor Ayliffe has developed a local and tertiary referral service for cornea, uveitis and inflammatory eye disease.
Professor Ayliffe is a winner of the prestigious Wix Prize for the History of Medicine and the Kabi-Pharmacia Prize for immunological mechanisms of corneal transplant rejection. He is a Reviewer for a number of professional journals including Eye, British Journal of Ophthalmology, Journal of Cataract and Refractive Surgery, he is an Examiner for the Royal College of Ophthalmologists and an Advisor to the UK Transplant Service. He has undertaken wide media and TV work for the national press, the BBC and Channel 4, has an extensive range of publications and has delivered prestigious lectures all over the world.