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Home » News and Events » An In-depth Look at Color Blindness

An In-depth Look at Color Blindness


Color vision problems are a generally genetic condition which prohibits someone's ability to distinguish among colors. Color blindness is caused by a dysfunction of the cones in the macular area, generally impacting an individual's ability to differentiate varieties of green or red, but possibly influencing the ability to see other hues as well.


The way we perceive colors depends on the cones found within the retina of the eye. People are generally born with three kinds of cones, each perceiving various wavelengths of color tone. With pigment, the length of the wave is directly related to the resulting color. Long waves are seen as reds, medium-length waves are seen as green tones and short waves produce blue tones. Which pigmented cone is affected impacts the spectrum and seriousness of the color blindness.


Green-red color blindness is more frequent in males than among females because the genetic encoding is sex-linked and recessively inherited.


There are many cases in which people develop color vision problems later in life resulting from another condition such as medicinal side effects, aging and especially macular degeneration. Thankfully, it could be possible to restore color vision if the underlying cause is corrected.


There are a few examinations for color blindness. The most common is the Ishihara color test, named after its designer. For this test a patient views a plate with a circle of dots in seemingly random colors and sizes. Inside the circle appears a digit in a particular shade. The individual's capability to make out the number within the dots of clashing shades reveals the level of red-green color sight.


While inherited color vision deficiencies can't be corrected, there are some steps that might improve the situation. Some evidence shows that wearing colored lenses or anti-glare glasses can help people to perceive the distinction between colors. More and more, new computer applications are on the market for regular personal computers and even for mobile devices that can assist users to enhance color distinction depending on their particular condition. There is also promising research being conducted in gene therapy to correct color vision.


The extent to which color blindness limits an individual is dependent upon the type and severity of the deficiency. Some patients can accommodate to their deficiency by learning alternative cues for colored objects or signs. For example, many learn the order of traffic lights or compare objects with color paradigms like the blue sky or green plants.

If you notice signs that you or your loved one could have a color vision deficiency it's important to schedule an appointment with an optometrist. The sooner the condition is diagnosed, the easier it will be to manage. Contact our Saginaw, MI optometry practice for additional information about color blindness

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