Unbelievable optical illusion proves our eyes can't always be trusted

Traffic lights
(Image credit: KTSDesign/SCIENCEPHOTOLIBRARY via Getty)

We see plenty of optical illusions here at Creative Bloq, and the best examples prove that our eyes – and brains – can't always be trusted. And one of TikTok's most popular illusion pedlars has just shared perhaps the most deceptive we've seen.

Did you know that red can't pass through a cyan filter? Well try telling your eyes that, because when they look at this set of traffic lights with cyan overlaid on top of it, they're pretty much guaranteed to see the top light as red. Spoiler alert: it's actually grey. Like all the best optical illusions, we still can't quite accept what we're seeing here.

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As beatonthebeeb (opens in new tab) explains, the appearance of red is actually our brain "working overtime" to show us what it things we should be seeing. But when the rest of the image is removed, out of context, it becomes all too clear that the red light is in fact monochrome.

"I was so convinced you edited the red part so I covered the rest myself and it’s the real deal," one user comments, while another adds, "So who's gonna pay my brain for working overtime?" (Nice.) Speaking of optical illusions involving cyan, remember that viral illusion that promised to show the viewer a whole new colour?

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).