Color vision deficiency, more commonly known as color blindness, is a genetic condition that impacts how we see colors. Color blindness typically affects how individuals distinguish between certain colors, such as between red and green or blue and yellow. Individuals with color blindness may have a mild form, where they have trouble distinguishing between specific shades, or a more severe form where they are unable to see a particular color at all. Color blindness affects about 8% of men and 1% of women.
The most common type of color blindness is red-green color deficiency.
If you suspect you or your child may have a color vision deficiency, you should make an appointment with your eye doctor.
Color blindness occurs when the light sensitive cells in our retinas are unable to respond to particular wavelengths of light correctly. The photoreceptors that allow us to see colors are called cones. Genetic color blindness is x-linked, passed from mothers to their sons, and occurs when some cones either don’t work correctly or are completely absent. This makes it difficult or even impossible for individuals with color blindness to see certain colors, differentiate between specific colors, or tell different shades of a single color apart.
If you have trouble telling specific colors apart (such as red and green or blue and yellow) or are often told by others that you are misidentifying colors, you may have color blindness.
Color blindness is usually present from birth. If you suddenly develop color vision problems, you should book an appointment with your eye doctor as soon as possible. A sudden or gradual loss of color vision can be a symptom of other underlying eye problems such as glaucoma or cataracts, or health condition such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis.
To help determine if you might have color blindness EnChroma, a company that specializes in color blind glasses, offers a free color blindness test, but it is recommended that you see your optometrist for a definitive diagnosis.
There is currently no cure for color blindness, but there are coping strategies available. These include special eyeglasses and contact lenses that can be worn to help better differentiate between specific colors, such as the spectacle lenses offered by EnChroma.
If you would like more information about specialized color blindness glasses or contacts, or suspect you may have undiagnosed color blindness, please make an appointment with your eye doctor.
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