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Periocular biometrics is the recognition of individuals based on the appearance of the region around the eye. Periocular recognition may be useful in applications where it is difficult to obtain a clear picture of an iris for iris biometrics, or a complete picture of a face for face biometrics. Previous periocular research has used either visible-light (VL) or near-infrared (NIR) light images, but no prior research has directly compared the two illuminations using images with similar resolution. We conducted an experiment in which volunteers were asked to compare pairs of periocular images. Some pairs showed images taken in VL, and some showed images taken in NIR light. Participants labeled each pair as belonging to the same person or to different people. Untrained participants with limited viewing times correctly classified VL image pairs with 88% accuracy, and NIR image pairs with 79% accuracy. For comparison, we presented pairs of iris images from the same subjects. In addition, we investigated differences between performance on light and dark eyes and relative helpfulness of various features in the periocular region under different illuminations. We calculated performance of three computer algorithms on the periocular images. Performance for humans and computers was similar.