There's a scientific explanation for why #TheDress looks black and blue to some people and white and gold to the others.
Although your eyes perceive colors differently based on color perceptors in them called cones, experts say your brain is doing the legwork to determine what you're seeing -- and it gets most of the blame for your heated debates about #TheDress.
"Our brain basically biases certain colors depending on what time of day it is, what the surrounding light conditions are," said optometrist Thomas Stokkermans, who directs the optometry division at UH Case Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio. "So this is a filtering process by the brain."
Objects appear reddish at dawn and dusk, but they appear blueish in the middle of the day, Stokkermans said.
So we can recognize the same objects in different light conditions, our brains tweak the way we see things, he added.
"The brain is very good at adjusting and calibrating so you perceive light conditions as constant even though they vary widely," he said.
Colors can appear different depending on what they're near and the memory and past experiences of the beholder, Dr. Lisa Lystad, a neuro-opthalmologist at Cleveland Clinic’s Cole Eye Institute.
For instance, people who live in snow all year round above the Arctic Circle have several names for different colors of snow, but to most of us, snow is just snow. She said she has a turquoise purse that some of her friends swear is green and others are sure is blue.
Cataracts, colorblindness and eye disease can also alter colors for the beholder. Monet's famous water lily pond painting is thought to have been painted when he was developing cataracts, Lystad said.
But your perception of the dress doesn't mean you have an eye problem, she said.
"Vision just barely starts in the eye," Lystad said. "Your brain is what gives names to the colors."
David Calkins, a professor at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and director of research at the Vanderbilt Eye Institute, said setting international color standards for everything from wires to fruits to paint pigments was a huge challenge before the digital age.
"There's no way for me to verify the color that your brain perceives versus the color that my brain perceives," he said. "What I call magenta, you might call violet. What I call burgundy, you might call purple."
And now that the digital age is here, there are subtle differences between how something can appear to you on a television screen versus a computer monitor versus a cell phone, Calkins said.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Some people might think of leprosy as a scourge from biblical times, but it still afflicts victims -- and a Florida county is reporting a rare increase in cases, with three people diagnosed in just five months.
In the past decade, before the new cases, only one person in Volusia County, Florida, was diagnosed with the disease.
Health officials said the recent increase in cases was unexpected, but because the incubation period ranges from nine months to 20 years, they did not think it signaled a wave of new infections.
Leprosy, also known as Hansen's disease, is caused by a bacteria called Mycobacterium lepra. An infection mainly affects the skin, peripheral nerves, eyes and part of the upper respiratory tract, according to the World Health Organization.
Leprosy cases remain rare in the United States, with approximately 80 people reporting infections each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.
Florida typically sees just eight to 10 cases per year. Leprosy is more common in California, Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York and Texas, according to a 2009 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration.
In addition to Volusia County, health officials in nearby Brevard County, Florida, have seen a recent increase in cases, with 18 reported over the last five years. Of the eight people diagnosed with leprosy in Florida last year, three were from Brevard County.
Barry Inman, an epidemiologist for Brevard County Department of Health, said the number of cases remained small but was much higher than previous decades, when they would normally see around one case a year.
"This is hard to track," said Inman, who noted the disease can incubate from nine months to 20 years.
"Compared to past history, it is significant and they are looking at it," Inman said of the local health department.
Inman said some of those were infected after interacting with armadillos, a known carrier of the disease.
The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention recommends people avoid contact armadillos to limit the possibility they can contract the bacteria that causes leprosy.
Symptoms of leprosy include skin lesions that may be faded or discolored, thick, stiff or dry skin, numbness in affected areas, ulcers on the soles of feet or muscle weakness or paralysis.
An estimated one to two million people have been permanently disabled by the disease. Today, the disease can be treated with antibiotics, although a course of treatment can be lengthy, lasting between six months to two years according to the U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention.
Creatas/Thinkstock(ARLINGTON, Va.) -- A Virginia resident was released from Virginia Hospital Center on Thursday after being evaluated for possible Ebola.
The patient had a fever and a history of recent travel from an Ebola-affected area, according to the Arlington County website. But after evaluation, it was determined that the individual had no known exposure to Ebola and that medical findings were not consistent with the disease.
The Arlington County Public Health Department will continue to monitor the patient through the full 21 day incubation period, under the Virginia Department of Health Arriving Passenger Monitoring Plan.
According to the county website, "Arlington County Public Health and Virginia Hospital Center are working together -- in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Health -- and followed the recommended course of action for such case." The county says "there is no cause for public concern."
Jacob Wackerhausen/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- This blasted winter will come to an end eventually, but until then, Americans will just have to make the best of things, particularly in the nation’s snow belts.
Actually, some folks may have gotten something out of this unseasonable season and that’s more sleep.
According to smartphone app Sleep Cycle, people in Southeastern states slept an average of seven hours and seven minutes -- or 13 minutes fewer than residents of Northwestern states, which typically get pounded with more snow.
The data was collected during the month of January with data from 140,000 people across the U.S. and even Hawaii, where people got the least amount of sleep per average, around seven hours.
Still, if you're looking for the benefit of living in a state where you may get less snow, according to Sleep Cycle's blog post, users in the southern states woke up in a better mood, on average.
rogerashford/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Millions of Americans take statins to help lower their cholesterol, but that daily statin may also cut their risk of liver cancer, according to a new study.
Researchers in the United Kingdom looked at nearly 1,200 people with liver cancer and compared them to 4,600 similar people without liver cancer, according to the study published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.
Researchers also compared each group in terms of their statin use.
What they found was that not only did taking a statin reduce the risk of liver cancer, but taking statins for a longer period of time or at a higher dose led to even greater risk reductions in current users.
The risk reduction was also greater in patients who had liver disease or risk factors for liver cancer, like diabetes, if currently using a statin.
Researchers say the findings are potentially important, since many people who need to take a statin also have other diseases which put them at risk for liver cancer, such as diabetes, fatty liver, obesity and excessive alcohol use.
Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Past research has indicated that middle-aged suicide rates affecting Americans between 40 and 64 years old have increased by 40 percent since 1999, with the sharpest rise shortly after 2007, coinciding with the 2008 recession.
Researchers at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Institute for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research have now looked at further data from the National Violent Death Reporting System in a new study published Friday in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
Specific external circumstances – such as job loss, bankruptcy, foreclosure, and other financial setbacks – may have played a larger role in these deaths, according to researchers.
Personal circumstances, such as mental illness, played a slightly decreasing role, researchers said.
File photo. McDonald's(INDIANAPOLIS) -- An Indianapolis police officer took a sip of McDonald's iced tea and wound up in the hospital because the drink apparently was contaminated with cleaning chemicals, his wife told ABC News.
Reserve Officer Paul Watkins went to the McDonald's at around 10 p.m. Saturday night for a self-serve tea before his shift, his wife Jerilyn Watkins said, adding that she wasn't with him at the time and his lawyer advised him not to speak to the media.
He filled his cup halfway with unsweetened tea and went to fill the rest with sweetened tea when he noticed it looked dark, she said. He took the lid off the dispenser to take a look and determined it was OK.
"He filled his cup and took a big gulp and immediately his throat started burning down into his chest," Jerilyn Watkins told ABC News, adding that he called her from the car and said he felt as though he'd just drank "bleach."
The owner of the McDonald's where Watkins was served, Elizabeth Henry, issued the following statement: "Serving my customers safe, high quality food and beverages is a top priority at our restaurants. We take this claim very seriously and are looking into the matter."
Emails to McDonald's corporate communications office seeking additional comment were not returned.
Watkins immediately spit out the tea and told the girl behind the counter that there was something wrong, Jerilyn Watkins said. The manager then told him the employees had put a cleaning solution into the tea dispenser and they had forgotten to put a cup over the nozzle, Jerilyn Watkins said.
"The irony of this all was that manager asked Paul if he wanted another cup or glass of tea and told one of the employees, 'Hey, get this guy another tea,'" Paul Watkins's lawyer, Sam Jacobs, told ABC News. "Paul said 'No, thanks' and left. By time he got not very far in his police car, he became violently ill."
He called the police station and poison control, which determined that the tea dispenser was filled with a "heavy duty degreaser" chemical, according to the police report obtained by ABC News. Watkins spent the night at IU Health Methodist Hospital, according to the report. He underwent endoscopy the following day, Jacobs said.
Watkins has returned to his daily life, but he still has problems swallowing and experiences burning in his throat, Jacobs said. He's also concerned about the long-term effects of ingesting the chemicals.
"My husband has never drank, never smoked, never done drugs," Jerilyn Watkins said. "This is just insane."
A similar scenario involving a teen in Muncie, Indiana, was reported at a McDonald's in 2013, and a lawsuit was filed in January, according to ABC News affiliate WRTV-TV. McDonald's lawyers in the case have until March 31 to respond, according to court records.
Jacobs said he has not yet filed a lawsuit on Watkins's behalf and hopes he is able to work out something with McDonald's before doing so.
"He never wants this to happen to anybody else," Jacobs said.
Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Instructional videos for do-it-yourself braces have become popular on YouTube, but dentists say people considering them should think twice.
A Washington State woman claims she closed her tooth gap in 44 days using $5 worth of hair elastics. She posted six videos to YouTube chronicling the process, garnering hundreds of comments and more than 100,000 views.
"I've got some news for you," Washington-based Jamila Garza says into the camera, beaming. "My gap is officially closed."
Then, she did a little dance. Sitting down with ABC Seattle affiliate KOMO, she said she could "fit a toothpick" into the gap before she used the hairbands to close it.
But doctors say DIY-dentistry is a bad idea because people can do some "major damage" even if their teeth look fine on the surface.
"If teeth are moved too quickly, the roots of teeth can resorb," said cosmetic dentist Dr. Joseph Banker, who owns a practice in New Jersey, explaining that this means the root can start dissolving. "Orthodonture is so much more than straight teeth."
People who try to make their own braces don't know enough about how the mouth functions to move things appropriately, potentially leading to problems with the jaw joints, muscle spasms, clenching problems and shooting pain, Banker said. They can also get gum and periodontal disease, he said.
The American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics issued a consumer alert about the use of elastic bands by non-dentists to close gaps in teeth.
"Most of the time, there are no problems, but if the rubber band slides into the soft tissues, it is difficult if not impossible to retrieve it, and it continues along the distal surface of the roots, destroying the periodontal attachment and producing inflammation," the editorial states. "As this occurs, the teeth extrude, the crowns fan out as the roots are pulled together, the teeth become increasingly mobile, and then they might just fall out."
And Garza's videos, which were posted three years ago but have seen a spike in viewers, are not the only ones. YouTube is filled with videos claiming to offer a cheap alternative to braces without a trip to the orthodontist.
"Leave the dentistry to the experts," Banker said.
Wavebrak Media / Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In the winter, gloves hold railings, open doors, push strollers and sometimes even act as your own personal tissue. So what happens when all those germs transfer to your winter gloves?
Good Morning America took to the snowy paths in New York City's Central Park to swab people's gloves -- ranging from wool to leather to nylon -- and test for bacteria and viruses. We also swabbed the gloves of some of our fellow ABC employees.
Out of the 27 samples tested, 26 were positive for bacteria. While most are harmless, nine of those tested positive for bacteria including staph and MRSA, which could be harmful if they came in contact with an open wound.
One of the samples tested positive for the corona virus, which doctors say is one of the causes of the common cold.
"Every time your glove comes into contact , you're taking away some of the bacteria that was on that surface," explained Dr. Susan Whittier, director of Clinical Microbiology Service at New York Presbyterian, Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.
The good news for glove-wearers is that the bacteria and viruses that attach to gloves may not last very long, just hours or minutes in some cases.
"It's not going to be alive on the glove for very long because it has nothing to help it survive," Dr. Whittier said.
According to experts, these three steps can help protect you from potential germs on your gloves.
Let your gloves air dry instead of keeping them balled up in your pockets.
Wash gloves often. You can even use a disinfectant wipe for some fabrics.
Be conscious not to touch your face with your gloves.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- American dog owners have spoken and once again they say they love Labrador retrievers.
The family-friendly breed of dogs is atop the American Kennel Club’s list of the Most Popular Dogs in the U.S., for the 24th consecutive year.
“The Lab truly is America’s dog,” AKC Vice President Gina DiNardo said in a statement.
The AKC’s 2014 list, released Thursday, shows German shepherds, golden retrievers, bulldogs and beagles following Labrador retrievers in the top five.
The beagle, which ranked number five on the AKC list, saw its breed get attention earlier this year when a Beagle named Miss P, from British Columbia, took home the top Best in Show honor at the Westminster Kennel Club Show earlier this month.
The AKC's most popular list is derived from the number of dogs within each breed registered with the club, an AKC spokeswoman told ABC News.
The bulldog moved up one spot, into number four, above the beagle, on this year's list. The AKC attributes the bulldogs' rise to the breeds’, “natural tendency to form strong bonds with kids, an easy-to-care-for coat and minimal exercise needs. “
A more specific type of Bulldog, the French bulldog, moved into the top 10, at number nine, this year for the first time in nearly 100 years, according to the AKC.
The Labrador retriever’s spot atop the Most Popular Breeds’ list continues its streak as the longest reign in AKC history.
Here is the full top 10 list of the 2014 Most Popular Dogs in the U.S.
alexandrenunes/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new study conducted in Demark has linked ADHD to a higher risk of accidental deaths.
According to the study, published in the Lancet journal, researchers used Danish national registers to follow 1.92 million individuals, including 32,061 with ADHD, from the time of their first birthday through 2013. In that time, 5,580 of the individuals followed in the study died.
Researchers say that the death rate per 10,000 person-years was 5.85 percent among those with ADHD and just 2.21 percent in those without the disorder. Accidents were the most common cause of death.
Individuals whose ADHD was not diagnosed until after the age of 18 were at the highest rate of accidental death, the study showed.
The study included a solely Danish population, meaning its results may not be applicable to other populations.
Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Craig Spencer, the New York doctor who contracted Ebola while treating Ebola patients in West Africa last year and later recovered from the disease, has written an essay in which he denies all of the labels he was given -- "fraud," "hipster," and "hero."
Spencer's essay, published in theNew England Journal of Medicine, notes that he kept a journal while in West Africa to help assess his "perceived level of risk of being infected with the deadly virus." In that journal, he marked how much risk each day's work had put him at, checking off "minimal risk" every day. Still, he was checked into Bellevue Hospital with Ebola in October 2014.
While working in West Africa, Spencer says he "was fueled by compassion and the immense challenge of caring for patients with Ebola." After returning, the 33-year-old said he felt "depressed for the first time in my life," citing the suffering he had seen and exhaustion.
"The morning of my hospitalization," Spencer wrote, "I woke up knowing something was wrong. I felt different than I had since my return -- I was more tired, warm, breathing fast."
"My activities before I was hospitalized were widely reported and highly criticized," Spencer continued. "People feared riding the subway or going bowling because of me...I was labeled a fraud, a hispter, and a hero."
"The truth is I am none of those things," Spencer says. "I'm just someone who answered a call for help and was lucky enough to survive."
Spencer also said that he understood the "fear that gripped the country" in the wake of his illness. Still, he says he criticized the media, which he says "sold hype with flashy headlines...abdicating their responsibility for informing public opinion and influencing public policy," and politicians who "took advantage of the panic to try to appear presidential instead of supporting a sound, science-based public health response."
"When we look back on this epidemic, I hope we'll recognize that fear caused our initial hesitance to respond -- and caused us to respond poorly when we finally did," Spencer concluded. "I know how real the fear of Ebola is, but we need to overcome it. We all lose when we allow irrational fear...to supersede pragmatic public health preparedness."
stevanovicigor/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A new report released Thursday details pedestrian fatalities in 2014, finding that the rate of pedestrian death is virtually unchanged from the year before.
The report, titled Spotlight on Highway Safety: Pedestrian Traffic Fatalities by State, was released by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The GHSA estimated that 2,125 pedestrians were killed in the first half of 2014 -- a slight decrease than the figure in the first half of 2013 (2,141). The 2014 figure is about 15 percent higher than in 2009, the report indicates.
Perhaps most notably, 42 percent of pedestrian deaths occur in just four states -- California, Florida, New York and Texas.
"While we're encouraged that pedestrian fatalities haven't increased over the past two years, progress has been slow," GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins said in a release. "Protecting pedestrians is a priority for GHSA and our members; we're determined to drive the number down to zero."
The GHSA report did find that 24 states and the District of Columbia saw decreases in pedestrian fatalities in 2014. Sixteen states saw single-digit fatality figures, while Wyoming and Nebraska each reported just one.
The report details efforts being made around the country to combat the problem of fatal accidents involving pedestrians. Specifically mentioned are crossing guards in Pennsylvania, education patrols featuring Delaware police officers and a lowered speed limit in New York City.
Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Suffering a heart attack is bad but having another one is much worse.
And yet, a new study says that some heart attack survivors may be putting themselves at risk for a second myocardial infarction or possibly a stroke by taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve the pain of muscle discomfort and arthritis.
Dr. Charles Campbell, chief of cardiovascular medicine at the University of Tennessee Erlanger Health Systems in Chattanooga, wrote an editorial for the Journal of the American Medical Association arguing that drugs, such as ibuprofen, naproxen and Celebrex, may be unsafe to use days, weeks or even months after a heart attack.
While he’s not telling patients to just and grin and bear pain, he nevertheless recommends they scale back on NSAIDs as much as possible.
The goal now, according to Campbell, is finding safer solutions to these common painkillers that will lessen the risk of internal bleeding that can lead to another heart attack or stroke.
Andre Blais/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK ) -- More Americans under the age of 65 -- 2.9 million more to be exact -- are no longer facing the same difficulties paying their medical bills as they were a year ago, according to a new CDC report released Thursday.
All told, nearly 8.8 million have achieved this level of financial security with regard to their medical bills since 2011.
There are still 47.7 million Americans that have problems with paying their medical bills, according to the CDC report. That’s roughly 17 percent of the American adult population overall.
Children are more likely than adults to be in families having problems paying medical bills, according to researchers.
The researchers also found that Americans with private insurance have less trouble paying medical bills than those with public insurance, and they experience far less trouble than uninsured Americans.
Racial disparities, however, have not improved. Non-Hispanic black Americans still fare worse than Hispanic Americans, and Hispanics still do worse than non-Hispanic whites and non-Hispanic Asians in the new report.