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What is Color Blindness?

Color blindness is a disorder affecting one's ability to see colors in regular light or to discern colors as they are seen by typical individuals. Usually, the disorder is genetic, but it can also be caused by accidents or a variety of eye diseases.

The discernment of color depends on cones located within the retina of the eye. Humans are usually born with three types of pigmented cones, each perceiving different wavelengths of color tone. This is similar to wavelengths of sound. With shades of color, the length of the wave is directly linked to the resulting color. Long waves are seen as red tones, medium-length waves produce greens and shorter waves produce blues. Which pigmented cone is involved impacts the nature and seriousness of the color blindness.

Being a gender-linked genetically recessive trait, many more males are found to be red-green color blind than females. Still, there are a number of women who do experience varying degrees of color vision deficiency, particularly blue-yellow deficiencies.

Some people acquire color vision difficulties later on as a result of another condition such as macular degeneration, cataracts and glaucoma. Fortunately, with these situations, treatment of the condition might improve color vision.

There are a few eye tests that optometrists use to diagnose 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 various colors and sizes. Inside the circle one with proper color vision can see a digit in a particular color. The patient's ability to see the digit inside the dots of clashing colors determines the level of red-green color blindness.

Although genetic color blindness can't be treated, there are some options that might improve the situation. Some people find that using tinted lenses or anti-glare glasses can help people to see the distinction between colors. Increasingly, computer programs are becoming available for common personal computers and for smaller devices that can assist users to enhance color distinction depending on their specific diagnosis. There are also exciting experiments being conducted in gene therapy to correct color vision.

How much color blindness limits an individual is dependent upon the variant and severity of the condition. Some patients can accommodate to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with substitute clues for determining a color scheme. For instance, some might familiarize themselves with the shape of stop signs rather than recognize the red color, or contrast objects with paradigms like a blue body of water or green grass.

If you suspect that you or a loved one might have a color vision deficiency it's advised to see an optometrist. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the easier it will be to manage. Feel free to call our Manasquan, NJ eye doctors to schedule an exam.