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Color Blindness

A recent football game during “Color Rush” raised quite an awareness to color blindness. The Buffalo Bills and the New York Jets faced off wearing solid colored jerseys. The Bills were wearing red and the Jets were wearing green. Seems the NFL didn’t take into consideration the effect it would have for the fans watching the game that suffer from red-green color blindness (1-in-12 people, 6% of men). To them, each team looked the same!

See a short clip of the game as they saw it by clicking here.

People with color blindness (also called a color vision problem) have trouble seeing red, green, or blue or a mix of these colors. It’s rare if a person sees no color at all. Despite the fact that some colors are not affected, color blindness can really cause problems. If you have had an exam at Vision Health Institute, you will know if you suffer from color blindness.

What Causes Color Blindness?

Most people inherit color blindness (genetic). Our eyes usually have three types of cone cells that sense red, green and blue light. If you don’t have these types of cone cells, or they don’t work properly, you have inherited color blindness. You may not see one of these primary colors, or you see a different shade of that color or a different color altogether. This type of color blindness does not change over time.

In some cases, acquired color blindess can occur. Again, people can see some colors, but not others. It may be harder to differientiate between certain colors, blue and yellow for instance. Most people can see thousands of colors in many shades, whereas fewer shades of color may be seen by people who are color blind. In very rare cases, people see only black, white and gray. Acquired color vision problems can be caused by:

  • Aging
  • Glaucoma
  • Macular degeneration
  • Cataracts
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Injury to the eye
  • Side effects of some medicines

Diagnosing Color Blindness

Color blindness test

Testing for color blindness is fairly easy and is a vision test we always perform at Vision Health Institute. Various sets of colored dots or colored chips are shown to the patient. Within the dot tests a pattern made of a different color can be found by someone who is not color blind. With colored chips, the patient that is color blind will have difficulty arranging the chips in order.

Testing your child for color vision problems during routine eye test is critical. The sooner you know they are color blind, the sooner you can help your child. Color vision problems in children can affect their learning abilities and reading development. If your child suffers from color blindness, be sure to tell your child’s teachers and other school staff. Suggest that your child is seated where there is less glare. It can also be helpful for a teacher to use a color of chalk or marker (on an overhead) that your child can see.

Treating Color Blindness

Inherited color blindness cannot be corrected or treated. The most common type of color blindness (red-green color deficiency) causes few problems. People adapt – traffic lights are simply read in a different manner. In fact, many people with this type of color blindness may not be aware that they do not see colors the same way as others.

Acquired color vision problems can sometimes be treated, depending on the cause. For example, cataract surgery may restore normal color vision if it is the cause. Wearing colored contact lenses may also help see differences between colors, however, these lenses don’t provide normal color vision and can distort objects. Wearing glasses that block glare can also help, especially with severe color vision problems.


Are You Color Blind?

During this time of year when red and green colors are almost everywhere, color blindness can affect many people. On Thursday, November 19, when the Jaguars are scheduled to wear all-gold against the Titans, wearing all-blue, fewer people will be affected. Only 1-in-10,000 people suffer from blue-yellow color blindness. Still, you can bet the NFL will rethink the “Color Rush” campaign in 2016 – if there is one.

If you suffer from color blindness, or simply aren’t sure if you are color blind, or the type of color blindness you may have, make an appointment with one of our Orlando optometrists today. Our comprehensive vision exams can detect this vision problem as well as many other potential vision problems. As always, if you have questions or concerns about your vision, be sure to call VHI at 407-893-6222.