Color blindness doesn’t always mean seeing in black and white. Often, people who suffer from color vision deficiency have inherited a trait that it makes it difficult to distinguish certain colors.
What Causes Color Blindness?
The genetic condition is usually caused by the retina’s inability to respond to variations in the light wavelengths that allow you to see an array of color. Cells in the retina are called rods and cones. Rods are incapable of sensing light, but the cones are responsible for allowing people to see in color. When a person looks at an object, light stimulates the cones in their retina and the brain interprets these signals. Three different types of cones let you see a spectrum of colors, but when you’re colorblind, it means that one or more of the cones are interpreting colors incorrectly.
People who are colorblind often see certain colors as washed out, or they might find themselves confusing different colors.
1 in 12 American men are affected by colorblindness, while only 1 in 200 women have the same problem. The gene responsible for color blindness is carried in the female X chromosome, which is why more men are affected than women. For a female to be colorblind, the gene has to be carried on both of her X chromosomes. Fathers can’t pass down colorblindness to their sons, but if a mother is red-green colorblind, all of her sons will also be colorblind.
The most common form of colorblindness is red-green. If you are affected by this, it means that your red and green photopigments have overlapped and make it difficult for you to distinguish colors from each other. Usually, you perceive red and green as the same color, but it can also affect the way you see other colors. Blue-yellow colorblindness is another type. In this case, people confuse blues with greens, and yellows with violets, so the name is a little misleading.
How Can I Find Out If I’m Colorblind?
If you think you might be color blind, Dr. Raymond Brill can help you find out if your suspicions are correct. With two highly accurate medical tests, we can provide an accurate diagnosis of your color vision deficiency. The Ishihara Color test will let us know if your color vision is normal, while the Farnsworth Dichotomous Hue test will let us know specifically the problem with your color vision. The Ishihara test uses a series of pictures of colored spots, with figures embedded in the pictures in a slightly varied color. People with normal vision are able to identify the figure, usually a number, while people who are deficient will not be able to identify the difference. We may also use a third test to determine some corrective modalities. While online color tests and applications can be easy to use, they are not always accurate due to the differences in monitor illuminance. It’s important to use more reliable testing to determine if color blindness is affecting your lifestyle.
What Can I Do About My Colorblindness?
The truth is that there is no cure for color blindness, but there are some things we can do to help. Brill Eye Center offers EnChroma® lenses that combine optical technology and color vision science to allow people to perceive colors differently. These lenses alter the way you view the world by allowing you to distinguish more between reds and greens. As a warning, your brain will need a little bit of neuro-adaptation time to learn how to perceive this change. So, the EnChroma lens experience gets better with time.
We like to describe EnChroma® lenses like antibiotics. When you’re sick, antibiotics attack the specific bacteria that is making you feel bad. Similarly, EnChroma® uses a filter to target the photopigments that are cutting out wavelengths of light in order to help enhance specific colors and correct your vision. Essentially, EnChroma® helps compensate for the “overlapping” of the red and green spectral curves by creating a notch separation of the color curves. After over a decade of research and development, EnChroma® lens technology finally became available. It’s estimated that 4/5 colorblind cases can be addressed with EnChroma® lenses.
Being color blind might not seem like a big deal to those who don’t have to deal with color vision deficiency. But for some, it feels almost like a disability. Your brain processes a lot of information, and it uses things like shape and color to determine where objects appear. Not being able to distinguish color can affect your ability to see things that are not immediately contrasted from their background. This can cause problems in a variety of situations and daily tasks like cooking food or selecting clothing. Color blindness can affect a child’s ability to understand the material in the classroom, or may make someone ineligible for certain careers which are dependent on interpreting colors, like an electrician might have to distinguish between different colored wires.
Luckily, with Brill Eye Center, you don’t have to sacrifice style for the ability to see in color. We can design EnChroma® lenses to fit almost all of the 2,500 frames in our showroom. Both sunglasses and indoor glasses are available for those who would like to color correct their vision. EnChroma® glasses are the only kind of specialty eyewear that deals with red-green color blindness, both enhancing the colors and retaining accuracy of perception.
These color correcting lenses can be life-changing for people who once found it difficult to distinguish color. If you think EnChroma® lenses might be a good choice for your vision, talk to our experts at Brill Eye Center to help you make the right decision. Or, start by taking our online color test to help determine if you are color vision deficient. If you are, you might open yourself to a whole new world of color and possibility.
If you have not always been color blind, but are starting to experience symptoms, this may be the result of an actual medical problem or side effect of a medication. You should use as soon as you can to help determine the best plan for action. Non-genetic—”acquired”– color blindness is possible and could be caused by brain or retinal damage from accidents or trauma. It can also present itself in degenerative diseases like diabetes.
If you are thinking about EnChroma® lenses, please watch some videos about the life-changing effects of color corrected vision.