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Home » News » Color Blindness: An In-depth Look

Color Blindness: An In-depth Look


Color vision problems are a typically hereditary disability which prohibits someone's ability to differentiate among color tones. Color blindness is caused by a deficiency in the cones in the retina, commonly affecting an individual's ability to differentiate shades of red or green, but can adversely affect the ability to see other shades also.


Color perception depends on cones located in the eye. Humans are typically born with three kinds of cones, all of which perceive different wavelengths of color. This is comparable to the wavelengths of sound. With pigment, the size of the wave is directly linked to the resulting color. Short waves produce blue tones, middle-sized waves project green tones and long waves generate reds. The pigmented cone that is affected impacts the nature and seriousness of the color deficiency.


Red-green color vision problems are more common in men than among women since the genes are sex dependent.


Color vision deficiencies are not a debilitating condition, but can impair learning and development and restrict options for careers. Lacking the ability to see colors as fellow students do could quickly hurt a student's confidence. For individuals in the workplace, color blindness could be a disadvantage when running against peers in a similar field.


There are several evaluation methods for the condition. The most common is the Ishihara color test, named after its designer. In this test a patient views a plate with a group of dots in a circle in differing sizes and colors. Within the circle one with proper color vision can see a numerical figure in a particular tint. The patient's ability to make out the number within the dots of clashing tones determines the level of red-green color sight.


Even though genetic color vision deficiencies can't be treated, there are some options that can assist to improve the situation. Some people find that using colored lenses or anti-glare glasses can help to see the distinction between colors. More and more, new computer programs are becoming available for standard computers and even for smaller devices that can assist people to enhance color distinction depending on their specific diagnosis. There are also promising experiments underway in gene therapy to improve the ability to perceive colors.


How much color vision problems limit a person depends on the type and severity of the deficiency. Some patients can adapt to their deficiency by learning alternative cues for colored objects or signs. For example, one can familiarize oneself with the shape of stop signs in place of recognizing red, or contrast items with paradigms like green plants or the blue sky.


If you notice signs that you or a family member might be color blind it's recommended to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. The sooner the condition is diagnosed, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Westerville, OH optometrists for information about scheduling an exam.

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