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Home » What’s New » An In-depth Look at Color Blindness

An In-depth Look at Color Blindness


Color blindness is a condition affecting one's capability to see colors under normal lighting conditions or to discern colors as they are viewed by normal individuals. Usually, the disorder is inherited, but it can also result from injuries or a variety of diseases of the eye.

Color perception is dependent upon the cones located within the retina of the eye. Humans are typically born with three kinds of pigmented cones, each of which perceives various wavelengths of color tone. This is similar to the wavelengths of sound. When it comes to shades of color, the length of the wave is directly linked to the perceived color tone. Short waves are perceived as blues, middle-sized waves produce green tones and long waves are seen as reds. The pigmented cone that is missing determines the nature and level of the color blindness.

Red-green color blindness is more common among men than in women since the genetic code is sex-linked.

Color blindness is not a devastating condition, but it can harm educational development and work performance. Lacking the ability to see colors as friends do could quickly harm a student's confidence. For working people, color blindness could present a disadvantage when running against colleagues in certain fields.

There are many tests for the condition. The most widely used is the Ishihara color test, called after its designer. In this test, a plate is shown with a group of dots in a circle in seemingly random colors and sizes. Inside the circle one with proper color vision can see a number in a particular color. The individual's ability to see the number within the dots of clashing shades determines the level of red-green color blindness.

Even though genetic color vision deficiencies can't be corrected, there are a few measures that might improve the situation. For some, wearing colored lenses or glasses which block glare can help to perceive the differences between colors. Increasingly, computer programs are becoming available for common computers and even for smaller machines that can assist users to enhance color distinction depending on their specific diagnosis. There is also interesting research underway in gene therapy to enhance the ability to distinguish colors.

How much color blindness limits a person depends on the kind and severity of the condition. Some individuals can adapt to their condition by familiarizing themselves with alternative clues for determining a color scheme. For example, many learn the order of traffic lights or compare items with paradigms like the blue sky or green grass.

If you notice signs that you or a child could be color blind it's recommended to get tested by an optometrist. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Mill Creek, WA eye doctors to schedule an exam.