Definition of Virtual image
1. Noun. A reflected optical image (as seen in a plane mirror).
Medical Definition of Virtual image
Such as seen in a mirror or through a magnifier. A virtual image has no real existence in space as does a real image from a lens. It does have a definite location, however, caused by the angles of divergence of the rays received by the eye. This can be shown by the common school experiment of placing a pin coincident with its mirror image behind a sheet of glass acting as a partial mirror. Its location can also be placed in design by extrapolating backwards to a focus. If a magnifier is used as it should be, with the object at its focus, the virtual image is at infinity. The same is true for a microscope focused for the relaxed eye.
See: distance of virtual image.
(05 Aug 1998)
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