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Home » What's New » What is Color Blindness?

What is Color Blindness?

Color blindness is commonly an innate disability which impairs one's ability to differentiate between color tones. Color blindness is a result of damage to the cones in the eye's retina, typically damaging a person's power to distinguish between varieties of red or green, but occasionally affecting the perception of other colors also.

The perception of color is dependent upon the cones located in the eye. Humans are generally born with three kinds of pigmented cones, each of which perceives different wavelengths of color. With colors, the size of the wave is directly related to the perceived color tone. Short waves are perceived as blues, medium-length waves produce green tones and longer waves produce red tones. Which type of cone is involved has an impact on the spectrum and severity of the color deficiency.
Green-red color vision problems are more common among men than in women because the genetic encoding is linked to gender and recessive.

Color blindness is not a debilitating condition, but it can hinder learning and development and work performance. The inability to see colors as friends do could negatively impact a student's self-confidence. For working people, color blindness could become a disadvantage when running against peers in certain fields.
There are many tests for the condition. The most widely used is the Ishihara color test, named after its inventor. For this test a patient views a plate with a group of dots in a circle in various colors and sizes. Within the circle one with proper color vision can see a number in a particular tint. The patient's capability to see the digit inside the dots of clashing shades determines the level of red-green color vision.

While genetic color blindness can't be corrected, there are a few options that can assist to improve the situation. Some people find that using colored lenses or anti-glare glasses can help to see the differences between colors. More and more, computer programs are on the market for common PCs and even for smaller devices that can help users enhance color distinction depending upon their specific diagnosis. There is also interesting research being conducted in gene therapy to enhance the ability to distinguish colors.

How much color blindness limits a person is dependent upon the variant and severity of the condition. Some patients can adapt to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with 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 a blue body of water or green grass.

If you suspect that you or your child might have a color vision deficiency it's recommended to see an eye doctor. The sooner you are aware of a problem, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Lexington, KY optometrists for information about scheduling an exam.