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


The inability to perceive colors or color blindness is typically a innate condition that inhibits one's ability to discern between colors. Color blindness is a result of damage to the cones in the retina. Typically it damages a viewer's power to differentiate variants of green or red, but it can affect the perception of additional shades too.


Color perception depends on the cones located in the eye. Humans are generally born with three kinds of cones, each of which perceives various wavelengths of color tone. The length of the wave is directly linked to the perceived color tone. Long waves are seen as red tones, middle-sized waves produce green tones and short waves produce blues. Which pigmented cone is affected has an impact on the spectrum and level of the color blindness.


Since it is a gender-linked genetically recessive trait, many more men are found to be green-red color blind than women. Nevertheless, there are a small number of females who do experience some degree of color vision deficiency, particularly yellow-blue deficiencies.


Some people develop color blindness later in life as a result of another condition including macular degeneration, aging and medicinal side effects. Fortunately, if one of these situations were to result in color blindness, it may be possible to reverse the color deficiency when the condition is treated.


There are several 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 sizes and colors. Inside the circle one with proper color vision can see a number in a particular shade. The patient's ability to make out the number inside the dots of clashing hues determines the level of red-green color blindness.


Even though inherited color vision deficiencies can't be corrected, there are a few measures that might improve the situation. For some, wearing tinted lenses or glasses which block glare can help people to perceive the differences between colors. Increasingly, computer programs are being developed for common computers and for mobile devices that can assist users to enhance color distinction depending upon their specific diagnosis. There is also interesting research being conducted in gene therapy to improve the ability to perceive colors.


The extent to which color blindness limits a person depends on the type and degree of the deficiency. Some patients can accommodate to their condition by learning alternate clues for determining a color scheme. For example, many people learn the order of traffic lights or contrast items with paradigms like green plants or a blue body of water.


If you notice signs that you or a family member could have a color vision deficiency it's recommended to schedule an appointment with an eye doctor. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Tucson, AZ eye care practice for information about scheduling an exam.