Color Blindness – Everything you need to know!

May 22, 2014
Tagged with: Color Blindness – Everything you need to know!

The world would be a boring place without colors, ain’t it! Unfortunately, a significant number of people across the globe, 8% of the male population & 0.5% of the female population, find it difficult to view specific colors in a normal way. This is most commonly referred to as color blindness. There are approximately 250 million colorblind people on this planet.

Photoreceptors residing inside the eyeballs help us see everything around us. There are two types of photoreceptors namely cones and rods. Located on the retina, in your eye’s back, these provide vital information to the brain which ultimately helps us see this colorful world. Colors are picked up by the cones whereas rods are sensitive to luminosity. Any malfunctioning in the cones leads to color blindness.

Since there are 3 types of cones, there are mainly 3 types of color blindness you will come across:

  • Deuteran (green)
  • Tritan (blue)
  • Protan (red)

For each of these types, the cones can be defective or mutated. When a cone is defective, it leads to higher shift in color perception whereas in case of mutation, there is a slight shift. Most people suffer from Protan (red) and Deuteran (green) inefficiencies.


Remember, symptoms vary from person to person, but some common signs include:


  • Difficulty in differentiating colors
  • Problems in identifying red & green colored objects
  • Sensitivity to brightness
  • Difficulty in reading colored pages
  • Frequent side-to-side eye movements (in extreme cases)
  • Headache when looking at red or green colored backgrounds

The root causes

Many experts suggest color blindness is a genetic condition and is passed on by one of the parents. The gene that causes this condition happens to be on the X chromosome and that’s why more men suffer from it than women.
According to Mayo Clinic there are various other conditions that can give rise to color blindness like –


  • Diabetes
  • Glaucoma,
  • Macular Degeneration
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Parkinson’s
  • Alcoholism
  • Leukaemia
  • Sickle cell anaemia
  • Multiple Sclerosis

Another cause of color blindness can be ageing. Our color vision gets affected significantly as we age. Apart from this, the condition can also be caused due to drug side-effects. Chloroquine and digitalis have known to cause color blindness. Lastly, industrial chemicals and eye injuries are also some common causes.

How is color blindness diagnosed?

If you get any of the above mentioned signs, it’s better to visit an ophthalmologist who will thoroughly examine your eyes and check the vision in different ways.

Color vision tests such as the Ishihara test can be help identify whether you are color blind or not. It includes looking at multicoloured dots placed on a plate. These dots are arranged in a specific way to give you a number outline. It helps detect red-green deficiency.

Take the Farnsworth arrangement test where you have to arrange different objects from the lightest to darkest color.

How do you treat color blindness?

There is no cure for color blindness as the condition is caused because of the innate defect in cone cells as described above. You can take assistance of special contact lenses or color filters to improve color brightness. With passage of time, color blind people adapt to the situation. Following are some ways that can help you deal with this condition.


  • Ask your family members or friends to help you identify & match colors.
  • Lighting conditions at home and workplace should be proper. It helps differentiate colors easily.
  • For color blind children, specific methods can be adopted to make learning easier.

It’s better to stay away from industrial chemicals and other causes that can be avoided to catch color blindness. If you get the slightest hint of being color blind, don’t hesitate in visiting your ophthalmologist.

Author: Jeanie Price

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