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Home » What's New » Color Blindness: An In-depth Look

Color Blindness: An In-depth Look


Color blindness is a condition impacting the ability to view colors under normal light or to perceive colors as they are typically seen. Usually, the disorder is genetic, but it can also be caused by injuries or a number of eye diseases.


Color perception is dependent upon the cones found in the eye's macula. Humans are typically born with three types of pigmented cones, each perceiving different wavelengths of color tone. This is comparable to the wavelengths of sound. With shades of color, the length of the wave is directly connected to the perceived color tone. Long waves produce reds, moderately-sized waves are seen as green tones and shorter waves produce blues. Which pigmented cone is affected impacts the spectrum and level of the color deficiency.


Red-green color blindness is more common in men than in women since the genetic code is sex-linked and recessively inherited.


Color vision deficiencies are not a devastating disability, but they can harm learning and development and work performance. The inability to distinguish colors as friends do could harm a student's confidence. For those in the workplace, color blindness could present a drawback in certain careers, such as police officers, artists, or electricians.


Optometrists use a few evaluation methods to diagnose the condition. The most widely used is the Ishihara color exam, named after its inventor. In this test, a plate is shown with a group of dots in a circle in various sizes and colors. Within the circle appears a number in a particular color. The patient's ability to see the digit within the dots of contrasting colors indicates the level of red-green color blindness.


Although genetic color vision deficiencies can't be corrected, there are a few measures that can help to improve the situation. Some evidence shows that using colored contacts or glasses which block glare can help to perceive the distinction between colors. Increasingly, computer applications are becoming available for regular PCs and for mobile devices that enhance color distinction, depending upon the user’s particular condition. There are also interesting experiments being conducted in gene therapy to correct the ability to perceive colors.


The extent to which color vision problems limit an individual depends on the kind and severity of the condition. Some individuals can accommodate to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with substitute clues for colored objects or signs. For example, many learn the shapes of traffic signs instead of recognizing red, or contrast items with color paradigms like green trees or a blue body of water.


If you suspect that you or a child could have a color vision deficiency it's recommended to see an optometrist. The earlier you are aware of a problem, the easier it will be to live with. Feel free to call our Hamburg, MI eye care practice to schedule an exam.