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Home » What's New » Color Blindness: An Overview

Color Blindness: An Overview


Color blindness is generally an innate condition that prohibits someone's ability to differentiate among color tones. Color blindness is caused by a dysfunction of the cones in the retina. Commonly it affects an individual's ability to distinguish between shades of green or red, but it might adversely affect the perception of additional shades too.


Color perception is dependent upon the cones found in the eye. Humans are normally born with three varieties of cones, each perceiving various wavelengths of color tone. When it comes to colors, the length of the wave is directly related to the resulting color. Long waves generate reds, middle-sized waves generate greens and shorter waves produce blue tones. The pigmented cone that is affected impacts the nature and level of the color deficiency.


Red-green color blindness is more common among males than in females because the genes are sex linked and recessive.


Some people acquire color vision problems later in life as a result of another condition such as medicinal side effects, cataracts and especially macular degeneration. Thankfully, it could be possible to reverse the condition once the cause is treated


There are a few tests for color blindness. The most widely used is the Ishihara color exam, named after its designer. In this test a plate is shown with a circle of dots in seemingly random colors and sizes. Within the circle appears a numerical figure in a particular shade. The individual's ability to see the number inside the dots of clashing shades indicates the level of red-green color vision.


While genetic color blindness can't be corrected, there are some measures that can assist to make up for it. Some evidence shows that using tinted lenses or glasses which minimize glare can help people to perceive the differences between colors. More and more, computer applications are becoming available for regular PCs and for smaller devices that can assist people to enhance color distinction depending upon their particular condition. There is also interesting research underway in gene therapy to improve color vision.


The extent to which color blindness limits a person is dependent upon the kind and degree of the deficiency. Some individuals can accommodate to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with substitute clues for colored objects or signs. For instance, many individuals are capable of learning the shapes of stop signs (rather than recognizing red) or contrasting items with color paradigms like green grass or the blue sky.


If you suspect that you or a family member could be color blind it's advised to get tested by an optometrist. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Plainsboro, NJ optometry practice to schedule an exam.