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

Color Blindness: An In-depth Look


Color blindness is a disorder affecting the ability to see colors under normal lighting conditions or to discern colors as they are viewed by normal individuals. Commonly, the condition is present at birth, but it can also be caused by old age or a variety of eye diseases.


The discernment of different hues depends on the cones found in the eye. People are typically born with three varieties of pigmented cones, each of which perceives various wavelengths of color tone. When it comes to colors, the size of the wave is directly linked to the resulting color. Long waves produce red tones, moderately-sized waves are seen as green tones and shorter waves are perceived as blue tones. The pigmented cone that is missing impacts the spectrum and severity of the color deficiency.


Being a sex-linked recessive trait, many more males are found to be green-red color blind than females. Nevertheless, there are a small number of females who do experience varying degrees of color vision deficiency, specifically blue-yellow color blindness.


Some people acquire color blindness later in life resulting from another condition including aging, injuries and especially macular degeneration. Fortunately, with these situations, treatment of the condition may be able to improve color vision.


Eye doctors use a number of exams for color blindness. The most widely used is the Ishihara color test, named after its designer. In this test, a plate is shown with a circle of dots in various colors and sizes. Inside the circle one with proper color vision can see a digit in a particular shade. The patient's ability to see the number within the dots of contrasting tones indicates the level of red-green color blindness.


While inherited color vision deficiencies can't be corrected, there are a few measures that can help to improve the situation. Some people find that wearing tinted contacts or glasses which minimize glare can help people to see the distinction between colors. More and more, computer programs are being developed for standard computers and even for mobile machines that can assist people to enhance color distinction depending upon their particular condition. There are also interesting experiments being conducted in gene therapy to improve color vision.


How much color blindness limits an individual depends on the variant and degree of the deficiency. Some patients can accommodate to their deficiency by learning alternative cues for determining a color scheme. For instance, they can familiarize themselves with the shapes of traffic signs rather than recognizing red or compare items with reference objects like the blue sky or green plants.


If you suspect that you or your loved one could be color blind it's recommended to see an eye doctor. The sooner you are aware of a problem, the sooner you can help. Contact our Albertville, AL optometry practice for more details about color blindness.