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Color Blindness: An Overview

The inability to perceive colors or color blindness is a generally genetic disability that prohibits someone's ability to discern between colors. Color blindness is caused by damage to the cones in the eye's macular area, typically affecting an individual's capability to differentiate variants of red or green, but can affect the perception of additional colors also.

Color perception depends on cones located in the eye's macula. People are typically born with three kinds of pigmented cones, all perceiving differing wavelengths of color. This is similar to the wavelengths of sound. When it comes to shades of color, the length of the wave is directly connected to the perceived color tone. Short waves project blue tones, middle-sized waves produce green tones and longer waves generate reds. The type of cone that is affected impacts the spectrum and seriousness of the color blindness.

Because it is a sex-linked recessive trait, green-red color deficiency is more common in men than in females. Still, there are plenty of women who do experience varying degrees of color vision deficiency, specifically blue-yellow color blindness.

Color blindness is not a debilitating condition, but can impair educational growth and restrict options for professions. Being unable to see colors as fellow students do could severely devastate a student's self-esteem. For working people, color blindness could become a disadvantage when running against peers trying to advance in a similar field.

Eye doctors use a number of exams for color blindness. The most widely used is the Ishihara color test, named after its designer. In this test a patient views a plate with a group of dots in a circle in different colors and sizes. Inside the circle appears a number in a particular shade. The individual's capability to make out the number within the dots of clashing shades examines the level of red-green color blindness.

Although inherited color vision deficiencies can't be treated, there are a few steps that can help to make up for it. For some wearing tinted contacts or glasses which block glare can help people to perceive the distinction between colors. Increasingly, new computer programs are becoming available for common personal computers and for smaller devices that can assist users to differentiate color better depending on their specific diagnosis. There is also promising research being conducted in gene therapy to improve the ability to distinguish colors.

How much color vision problems limit a person depends on the type and severity of the condition. Some individuals can adapt to their deficiency by learning substitute clues for determining a color scheme. For instance, some might familiarizing themselves with the shape of stop signs rather than recognize the red color, or contrast items with color paradigms like the blue sky or green trees.

If you suspect that you or your loved one might have a color vision deficiency it's important to see an eye doctor. The sooner the condition is diagnosed, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Alpharetta, GA optometrists to schedule an exam.