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

An In-depth Look at Color Blindness

Color vision problems are a generally hereditary condition which inhibits the ability to distinguish between color tones. Color blindness is caused by a deficiency in the cones in the eye's retina, commonly preventing a person from being able to differentiate variants of green or red, but occasionally affecting the perception of additional shades as well.

The discernment of color is dependent upon cones found in the eye. People are commonly born with three kinds of cones, each perceiving different wavelengths of color tone. This is similar to the wavelengths of sound. With pigment, the length of the wave is directly associated with the perceived color tone. Long waves produce reds, middle-sized waves produce greens and shorter waves produce blues. The pigmented cone that is missing has an impact on the nature and severity of the color deficiency.

Because it is a gender-linked genetically recessive trait, red-green color deficiency is more common in males than in females. Still, there are a small number of females who do suffer some degree of color vision deficiency, particularly yellow-blue color blindness.

Color vision problems are not a devastating condition, but it can harm educational progress and work performance. Missing the ability to see colors as fellow students do could quickly devastate a student's self-image. For individuals in the workplace, color blindness could present a drawback when running against colleagues in certain fields.

There are a number of examinations for color blindness. The most common is the Ishihara color test, called after its inventor. In this test, a plate is shown with a group of dots in a circle in various colors and sizes. Within the circle appears a number in a particular shade. The individual's capability to see the number within the dots of clashing shades indicates the level of red-green color blindness.

While inherited color vision deficiencies can't be treated, there are a few measures that can help to make up for it. For some, wearing colored contacts or glasses which minimize glare can help people to perceive the differences between colors. More and more, computer programs are becoming available for standard personal computers and for smaller devices that can assist people to differentiate color better depending upon their particular condition. There are also promising experiments underway in gene therapy to improve the ability to perceive colors.

The extent to which color blindness limits an individual depends on the variant and severity of the condition. Some patients can adapt to their deficiency by learning substitute clues for colored objects or signs. For instance, many people learn the order of traffic lights or contrast items with reference objects like a blue body of water or green plants.

If you suspect that you or a family member might be color blind it's advised to get tested by an eye doctor. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Overland Park, KS eye doctors to schedule an exam.