Understanding Color Blindness


Despite its name, color blindness is not a form of blindness. It is also known as color vision deficiency and is a deficiency in the way someone sees color. An estimated 8% of males are colorblind, while less than 1% of females are colorblind, according to statistics from Prevent Blindness. For people who are colorblind, some color pairs can be difficult to distinguish. This includes red and green as well as blue and yellow. The causes, treatments, signs, and symptoms of this condition are looked at in this article.

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The Signs and Symptoms of Color Blindness

The most common form of color blindness involves the red-green color deficiency. The early signs and symptoms of color blindness are having difficulty telling colors apart. Many times, it takes someone else to point out that the person is seeing a color wrong. Color vision deficiency is rarely associated with a person seeing in gray. This is a common misconception about being colorblind.

For people classified as colorblind, have no problem seeing most colors. Only a few colors, such as the color pairs mentioned, may be confused or washed out, making it difficult for the person to see the color accurately.

Color blindness is much more common in men for the red-green and more common color deficiency. For the rarer blue-yellow color deficiency, males and females tend to be affected equally.

Once someone has problems with seeing colors and believes they might be colorblind, they can visit a doctor for consultation. There they can do a color blindness test, which helps them to see what kind of color blindness if any is at play.

The Causes of Color Blindness

People see different colors when light-sensitive cells in the eye’s retina respond to different wavelengths of light. Visible light is made up of light of different wavelengths, each corresponding to a different color of the spectrum. When the light-sensitive cells in the retina cannot respond accurately to the different colors, this is color blindness.

In the eye’s retina, there are light receptors or photoreceptors known as rods and cones. There are about 100 million rods in the retina of a person, and these rods are far more numerous than the cones. The rods, while they cannot perceive color, are more sensitive to light. On the other hand, there are about 7 million cones in the retina. Cones are the photoreceptors responsible for color vision. There are found more concentrated around a central region of the eye’s retina known as the macula, and the center of this is known as the fovea. The most acute color vision comes from this tiny area, about 0.3 mm in diameter.

Color blindness is mainly an inherited condition. When these genetics are involved, the cause is usually a deficiency in some types of cones. Alternatively, these particular types of cones could be missing altogether. Other causes of color blindness include Parkinson’s disease, cataracts, particular medications Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy (LHON), and Kallman’s syndrome. Color blindness can also start to develop with aging. As the retinal cells age and become more damaged, this can lead to color vision deficiency.

Treating Color Blindness

There are various treatments and strategies that can be used to treat colorblindness. One of these is gene therapy. This has been used to cure color blindness in monkeys successfully. The research study was conducted by scientists at the University of Washington. Much work still needs to be done to investigate if such a treatment is safe to use on humans.

There is no actual cure for colorblindness as yet, but by using various methods, affected people can learn to cope with the condition. For many people, coping with the deficiency is not a major problem, but there are methods to improve their vision.

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