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A Differently Colored Life: Understanding Color Blindness

Call our Miami Beach, FL Eye Doctor for a vision test

Color vision problems are a commonly genetic disability that prohibits someone’s ability to distinguish between color tones. Color blindness is caused by a deficiency in the cones in the eye’s macular area, generally hurting a person’s ability to differentiate variants of green or red, but can affect the perception of other shades too.

The discernment of different hues depends on cones found in the eye.} Humans are generally born with three kinds of cones, all of which perceive different wavelengths of color. This is comparable to the wavelengths of sound. With pigment, the size of the wave is directly linked to the resulting color. Long waves generate reds, middle-sized waves produce greens and shorter waves produce blues. Which pigmented cone is missing determines the nature and severity of the color deficiency.

Being a gender-linked genetically recessive trait, many more men are found to be red-green color blind than females. Still, there are a number of women who do experience some degree of color vision deficiency, specifically blue-yellow color blindness.

Some people obtain color vision deficiencies later on resulting from another condition including injuries, glaucoma and especially macular degeneration. However, if one of these situations were to cause color blindness, treatment of the condition could be able to improve color vision.

Optometrists use a few examinations for the condition. 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 sizes and colors. Within the circle one with proper color vision can see a numerical figure in a particular color. The individual’s capability to make out the digit inside the dots of contrasting hues indicates the level of red-green color blindness.

Although inherited color blindness can’t be treated, there are some options that can help to improve the situation. For some using tinted contacts or anti-glare glasses can help to see the distinction between colors. Increasingly, computer applications are becoming available for regular computers and even for mobile devices that can help people distinguish color better depending on their particular condition. There are also promising experiments being conducted in gene therapy to correct the ability to distinguish colors.

How much color blindness limits an individual is dependent upon the type and degree of the deficiency. Some patients can accommodate to their condition by familiarizing themselves with alternate clues for determining a color scheme. For instance, learning the order of traffic lights or comparing objects with reference objects like green trees or the blue sky.

If you notice signs that you or a family member might be color blind it’s recommended to get tested by an eye doctor. The earlier the condition is diagnosed, the sooner you can help. Contact our Miami Beach, FL optometrists to schedule an exam.