Color blindness occurs when problems with the color-sensing
pigments in the eye cause a difficulty or inability to distinguish colors. The
majority of people who are colorblind can’t distinguish between red and green.
Distinguishing yellows and blues may also be problematic, although this form of
color blindness is less common.
The condition ranges from mild to severe. If you’re
completely colorblind, which is a condition known as achromatopsia, you see only in gray or black and white.
However, this condition is very rare. Most people with color blindness see the
following colors in color charts rather than the reds, greens, and teals that
Color blindness is more common in men. Women are more likely
to carry the defective chromosome responsible for passing on color blindness,
but men are more likely to inherit the condition. According to the American
Optometric Association, nearly 8 percent of white males are born with color
deficiency, in comparison to 0.5 percent of women.
Are the Symptoms of Color Blindness?
The most common symptom of color blindness is a change in
your vision. For example, it may be difficult to distinguish between the red
and green traffic light. Colors may seem less bright than before. Different
shades of a color may all look the same.
Color blindness is often apparent at a young age when
children are learning their colors. In some people, the problem goes undetected
because they’ve learned to associate specific colors with certain objects. For
example, they know that grass is green, so they call the color they see green.
If symptoms are very mild, a person may not realize that they don’t see certain
You should consult your doctor you suspect you or your child
is colorblind. They’ll be able to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other more
serious health issues.
Are the Types of Color Blindness?
There are three main types of color blindness. In one type,
the person has trouble telling the difference between red and green. In another
type, the person has difficulty telling yellow and blue apart. The third type
is called achromatopsia. A person with this form can’t perceive any colors
at all and everything appears gray or black and white. Achromatopsia is the least
common form of color blindness.
Color blindness can either be inherited or acquired.
Inherited Color Blindness
Inherited color blindness is more common. It’s due to a
genetic defect. This means that the condition passes down through the family. Someone
who has close family members who are colorblind is more likely to have the
condition as well.
Acquired Color Blindness
Acquired color blindness develops later in life and can
affect men and women equally. Diseases that damage the optic nerve or
the retina of the eye can cause acquired color blindness. For that reason, you
should alert your doctor if your color vision changes. It might indicate a more
serious underlying issue.
Causes Color Blindness?
The eye contains nerve cells called cones that enable
the retina, a light-sensitive layer of tissue in the back of your eye, to
see colors. Three different kinds of cones absorb various wavelengths of light,
and each kind of cone reacts to a different color. Each cone reacts to red,
green, or blue. It sends information to the brain to distinguish
colors. If one or more of these cones in your retina is damaged or isn’t
present, you’ll have difficulty seeing colors properly.
The majority of color vision deficiency is inherited. It typically
passes from mother to son. Inherited color blindness doesn’t cause blindness or
other vision loss.
You can also have the condition as a result of disease or
injury to your retina.
the internal pressure of the eye, or the intraocular pressure, is too high. The
pressure damages the optic nerve, which carries signals from the eye to
the brain so that you can see. As a result, your ability to distinguish
colors may diminish. According to the British Journal of Ophthalmology, the inability of people
with glaucoma to distinguish blue and yellow has been noted since the
Macular degeneration and diabetic retinopathy cause damage
to the retina, which is where the cones are located. This causes color
blindness. In some cases, it causes blindness.
If you have a cataract,
the lens of your eye gradually changes from transparent to opaque. Your color
vision may dim as a result.
Other diseases that can affect vision include:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Alzheimer’s disease
- multiple sclerosis
Certain medications can cause changes in color vision. These
include the antipsychotic medications chlorpromazine (Thorazine) and
The antibiotic ethambutol (Myambutol), which treats
tuberculosis, may cause optic nerve problems and difficulty seeing some colors.
Color blindness may also be due to other factors. One factor
is aging. Vision loss and color deficiency can happen gradually with age.
Additionally, toxic chemicals such as styrene, which is present in some
plastics, are linked to the loss of ability to see color.
Is Color Blindness Diagnosed?
Seeing colors is subjective. It’s impossible to know whether
you see reds, greens, and other colors the same way as people with perfect
vision. However, your eye doctor can test for the condition during a normal eye
Testing will include the use of special images called “pseudoisochromatic
plates.” These images are made of small, colored dots that have numbers or
symbols embedded within them. Only people with normal vision can see these
numbers and symbols. If you’re colorblind, you may not see the number or may
see a different number. It’s important for children to be tested before they
start school because many early childhood educational materials involve
Is the Outlook for People with Color Blindness?
If color blindness occurs as the result of illness or
injury, treating the underlying cause may help to improve color detection.
However, there’s no cure for inherited color blindness. Your
eye doctor may prescribe tinted glasses or contact lenses that can assist in
People who are colorblind often consciously apply certain
techniques or use specific tools to make life easier. For example, memorizing
the order of the lights from top to bottom on a traffic light removes the need
to distinguish its colors. Labeling clothing can assist in matching colors
properly. Some software applications transform computer colors into those that
colorblind people can see.
If you have inherited color blindness, it’s a lifelong
challenge. While it may limit prospects for certain jobs, such as working as an
electrician who must tell the difference between color-coded wires, most people
find ways to adapt to the condition.