Skip to main content
Home » What's New » A Different Perspective: What is Color Blindness?

A Different Perspective: What is Color Blindness?

Color blindness is a disorder affecting one's capability to distinguish colors under normal light or to discern colors as they are typically viewed. Generally, the disorder is inherited, but it can also be caused by accidents or a number of diseases of the eye.

Color perception is dependent upon cones located within the retina of the eye. People are commonly born with three kinds of pigmented cones, each perceiving differing wavelengths of color tone. When it comes to shades of color, the size of the wave is directly related to the resulting color. Long waves produce red tones, medium-length waves generate green tones and shorter waves project blues. The type of cone that is affected determines the nature and seriousness of the color deficiency.

Red-green color vision deficiencies are more frequent in males than in females since the genes are recessive and linked to gender.

Color blindness is not a devastating disability, but it can hinder educational growth and work performance. The inability to distinguish colors as fellow students do can severely hurt a student's self-image. For those searching for work, color blindness could be a disadvantage when running against peers trying to advance in the same industry.

There are many evaluation methods for the condition. The most widely used is the Ishihara color exam, named after its designer. In this test a plate is shown with a group of dots in a circle in differing colors and sizes. Within the circle one with proper color vision can see a number in a particular tint. The patient's capability to make out the number within the dots of contrasting shades determines the level of red-green color vision.

Even though hereditary color vision deficiencies can't be treated, there are some options that can help to make up for it. Some evidence shows that using tinted lenses or glasses which minimize glare can help people to see the differences between colors. Increasingly, new computer programs are becoming available for regular PCs and even for smaller devices that can assist users to enhance color distinction depending on their specific diagnosis. There are also exciting experiments underway in gene therapy to enhance the ability to perceive colors.

The extent to which color vision problems limit a person depends on the variant and severity of the deficiency. Some individuals can adapt to their deficiency by learning alternative clues for colored objects or signs. For example, many people can learn the order of traffic signals or contrast items with reference objects like green grass or a blue body of water.

If you notice signs that you or a family member could be color blind it's important to get tested by an optometrist. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the easier it will be to live with. Feel free to call our Clarksville, IN eye care practice to schedule an exam.