Contrary to what the name may suggest, color blindness is not a form of blindness. Actually, a more accurate name for color blindness is “color vision deficiency.” People who are color blind have trouble with their color vision. Depending on the specific person, this could mean that they cannot tell certain colors apart, or they cannot identify any color.
What Causes Color Blindness?
Color blindness is caused by problems in light-sensitive cells in the retina called “cones.” There are three types of cone pigments crucial to normal vision; they are sensitive to either blue, green or red-colored objects, and work together to enable you to see a wide range of colors. If a cone pigment is abnormal or missing, the result is a type of color vision deficiency. Someone who is born without any cone pigments is literally “color blind.”
Color blindness is typically a hereditary condition — in other words, passed down from your parents. If you are color blind, you have received a faulty color vision gene from one of your parents. The gene that is responsible for color blindness is carried on the X chromosome; since men have just one X chromosome, they are more likely to inherit color blindness, whereas women have two X chromosomes, and may overcome the faulty gene with a second, normal X chromosome.
According to the organization Prevent Blindness America, approximately 8 percent of men and less than 1 percent of women have color vision problems.
Other causes of color vision deficiency include Parkinson’s disease, cataracts and an injury/trauma to the area of the brain responsible for vision processing.
Signs You Might Be Color Blind
You may be color blind if: a) you have difficulty telling whether colors are blue, yellow, red or green; b) certain colors are washed out; c) people tell you that the color you think you see is wrong.
If you suspect that you have color vision deficiency, your laser eye doctor can perform testing to confirm it.
How Color Blindness Can Affect You
Here are a few examples of how color blindness can affect your everyday life:
- You cannot tell the difference between a ripe/unripe banana (to your eyes, the yellow and green colors look the same).
- You cannot tell whether a piece of meat is cooked or rare.
- You do not notice that your child is becoming sunburned.
- You cannot detect a change in someone’s mood as their face changes color.
- You have trouble selecting clothing that matches.
- You have trouble gardening.
- Certain foods (e.g., green vegetables) look unappetizing.
- You cannot detect whether a battery is charging (as evidenced by a red or green LED display light).
- You cannot detect the different colors on a traffic light.
Color Blindness Coping Strategies
There is currently no cure for color blindness. However, there are ways to cope with the condition. For example, some people use special lenses (either contact lenses or eyeglasses) to enhance their color perception. Also, learning to remember items by their order (instead of their color) or label is helpful. For example, have a friend or family member help you organize and label your clothing so you can put together matching outfits. Or, remember simple orders, such as the order of the lights on a traffic signal, without having to rely on your color vision.
For more information about color blindness or any other vision disorders, please call Laser Eye Center™ at 800-80-LASER or contact us via email.