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Understanding Color Blindness

Color vision problems are a commonly innate disability that prohibits the ability to distinguish between shades of color. Color blindness is caused by damage to the cones in the eye's macular area, typically damaging a viewer's power to distinguish between shades of red or green, but may impact the perception of additional shades too.

Color perception depends on the cones located in the eye's macula. Humans are typically born with three types of pigmented cones, each perceiving various wavelengths of color tone. This is comparable to wavelengths of sound. When it comes to colors, the length of the wave is directly associated with the resulting color. Long waves are seen as red tones, medium-length waves are seen as green tones and short waves produce blues. The pigmented cone that is missing has an impact on the spectrum and severity of the color blindness.

Green-red color blindness is more frequent among males than among females because the genetic encoding is linked to gender and is recessively inherited.

Color vision problems are not a debilitating condition, but it can hinder educational development and work performance. Not having the ability to distinguish colors as peers do could quickly harm a student's self-esteem. Depending on the field of work, color blindness could become a disadvantage when running against normal-sighted colleagues in a similar industry.

Optometrists use numerous evaluation methods for color blindness. The most common is the Ishihara color test, named after its inventor. For this test a plate is shown with a circle of dots in various colors and sizes. Within the circle one with proper color vision can see a numerical figure in a particular tint. The patient's ability to make out the number inside the dots of clashing colors indicates the level of red-green color vision.

Even though genetic color vision deficiencies can't be treated, there are a few options that can assist to make up for it. Some people find that wearing tinted contacts or glasses which minimize glare can help people to see the distinction between colors. Increasingly, computer applications are on the market for standard personal computers and for smaller machines that can assist people to distinguish color better depending upon their particular condition. There are also exciting experiments underway in gene therapy to enhance color vision.

The extent to which color blindness limits an individual depends on the variant and severity of the condition. Some patients can adapt to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with alternate clues for colored objects or signs. For example, they can learn the order of traffic signals or compare items with paradigms like the blue sky or green trees.

If you notice signs that you or a child might have a color vision deficiency it's advised to see an eye doctor. The sooner you are aware of a problem, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Costa Mesa, CA eye care practice for information about scheduling an exam.