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Why Do Doctors Wear Blue or Green Scrubs?

Doctor’s and nurses scrubs used to be white to give hospitals a sense of cleanliness. Now nurses wear all kinds of colors – except white, and doctors wear green or blue scrubs. Why the change?
Well, in the early 20th century, an influential unnamed doctor switched his scrubs to green because it was easier on a surgeon’s eyes during delicate operations. If a person looks at one color, such as red, for a long while, their brains become desensitized to the color, and the constant red signal bombarding the brain gets shut off. If a doctor looks up from a patient to give his eyes a temporary rest and sees white, green patches appear on the white as our optical nerves turn back on and readjust themselves. Green is the opposite of red on the color wheel, so by looking at green around them, doctors can keep their eyes from trying to readjust, but keeps them sharp and fresh to see the nuances of the human body better.

Looking at any color in the color wheel makes your brain more perceptive to variations in the color of its opposite. You can try it out at home – it’s pretty neat: just look at something red for 30 seconds to a minute, and then quickly look at a blank sheet of paper. See those ghost-ish green figures on the paper? Those are your optical nerves. It’s sort of like if someone takes a picture of you with their flash on and you see those floating spots all over the place.

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