What it Means to Be Color Blind

Color blindness is a vision deficiency in people that affects the way that color is perceived. It occurs when light-sensitive retinal cells don’t respond in the appropriate way to light wavelength variations.

The eye’s retina contains both rods and cones, and it is an issue with the cones (or an outright absence of them) that is behind the presence of problems with viewing and perceiving color.

More Common in Men than Women

Issues with viewing color is a hereditary condition that tends to affect men more often than women. Around 8 percent of males and just around a half-percent of women are afflicted with some form of color blindness. Of all the races, Caucasian men are the most prone to color blindness.

Color blindness is most commonly characterized by difficulty in distinguishing between some colors, such as green and red, and blue and yellow. However, difficulty discerning between red and green is the most common color blindness deficiency. It is also extremely rare for people to be unable to discern differences between colors at all and/or to only see in shades of grey.

Color Blindness and Medical Considerations

Generally, people who are color blind tend to see some colors as quite washed out or faded, making them difficult to discern. Because of this, these colors can be more easily confused with other hues. While some individuals are born with color blindness, for others, it can come on gradually or suddenly later in life. An onset of color blindness could indicate vision problems or eye issues like cataracts or glaucoma. An optometrist should be visited immediately if this occurs. A color blindness test can determine the type of deficiency you have.

Besides genetics or cataracts, other issues that can cause color blindness include Parkinson’s disease, the epilepsy medication Tiagabine, some forms of neuropathy, Kallman’s syndrome and other pituitary gland issues. Color blindness can also be caused by eye injury, brain issues and the general effects of aging.

At this time, there is no cure for color blindness. Those who are afflicted with it must find ways to cope and adapt in life as best they can. Diagnosing color blindness early can help to prevent learning and development issues in school, as informed teachers can plan lessons accordingly.

Career Paths for Color Blind Persons

Steering clear of occupations that require discernment of color is wise for those with trouble perceiving color differences. Professions like graphic design, interior design and other jobs related to the visual arts are probably not a fit for those with color blindness. Non-art jobs that require precision in color perception should also be avoided.

Driving is another concern, as red and green traffic lights can be confused by those with color blindness. However, remembering that the red light is at the top of a stoplight while the green light is at the bottom is an easy solution for this potential hazard.

Enjoying Life to the Fullest with Color Blindness

Everyday activities like matching clothes in a wardrobe can be accomplished with the help of a friend or loved one who can assist with labeling and organizing items that match well. Advice from others can assist with avoiding color clashes in home decorating as well.

There are even smart phone apps available that can assist those with color blindness. There are also special lenses available to help enhance color discernment and perception. These filters are available in both eyeglass and contact lens form.

While color blindness has its challenges and can make the world a little more difficult to navigate in certain scenarios, the vast majority of people with color blindness are able to work around it and live normal, enriching lives.


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