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A Different Perspective: Understanding Color Blindness


The inability to perceive colors or color blindness is a commonly innate disability that impairs the ability to distinguish among color tones. Color blindness is a result of a dysfunction of the cones in the retina. Commonly it affects an individual's capability to differentiate varieties of green or red, but it may influence the perception of additional colors as well.


Color perception depends on cones located within the retina of the eye. People are usually born with three kinds of cones, each of which perceives different wavelengths of color. With pigment, the size of the wave is directly connected to the perceived color tone. Short waves produce blue tones, medium-length waves project green tones and long waves produce red tones. The type of cone that is missing determines the spectrum and seriousness of the color blindness.


Since it is a gender-linked recessive trait, red-green color blindness is more common in men than in females. Nevertheless, there are plenty of women who do experience some degree of color vision deficiency, particularly blue-yellow color blindness.


Color blindness is not a devastating disability, but it can harm educational development and work performance. Lacking the ability to distinguish colors as peers do could permanently and negatively impact a student's self-esteem. For those of working age, color blindness could become a drawback when running against peers in the same industry.


Eye doctors use many tests for color blindness. The most widely used is the Ishihara color test, called after its inventor. For this test a patient views a plate with a group of dots in a circle in differing colors and sizes. Within the circle one with proper color vision can see a number in a particular color. The patient's ability to see the digit within the dots of contrasting shades examines the level of red-green color blindness.


Although inherited color blindness can't be corrected, there are a few measures that can assist to improve the situation. For some, wearing tinted lenses or glasses which block glare can help to perceive the distinction between colors. More and more, computer applications are being developed for common PCs and for mobile devices that can assist people to enhance color distinction depending on their specific diagnosis. There are also interesting experiments underway in gene therapy to improve the ability to perceive colors.


How much color blindness limits a person depends on the variant and degree of the deficiency. Some individuals can adapt to their deficiency by learning alternate clues for determining a color scheme. For instance, some might familiarize themselves with the shape of stop signs rather than recognize the red color, or contrast items with paradigms like green plants or the blue sky.

If you notice signs that you or your child might be color blind it's advised to get tested by an optometrist. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the easier it will be to manage. Contact our Kennett Square, PA eye doctors to schedule an exam.

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