Healthy Living

What is Color Blindness?

What is Color Blindness?

Key Takeaways

  • The red and green color deficiency is the most common type of color blindness. 
  • Color blindness affects around 8% of men. 

Color blindness is not a real blindness but a deficiency in seeing colors. People having color blindness can’t distinguish between certain colors, like red and green, or blue and yellow. The red and green color deficiency is the most common type of this condition.

What causes color blindness?

It is an inherited condition that is more common among men than women because the most common form of color deficiency is encoded on the X chromosome. It has been estimated that around 8% of men suffer from color blindness, compared to 0.5% women who have this condition. Color blindness is sometimes an acquired condition. Acquired color blindness is a condition that is normally developed later in life. It can affect both men and women equally. Different medical conditions and diseases that affect the retinas of the eyes, as well as the optic nerve, can result in color blindness. Some of the most common causes of acquired color blindness include glaucoma, macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and diabetes.

Color blindness ranges from mild to severe. Complete color blindness is known as achromatopsia, a condition which allows the affected person to see only in gray or black and white. Luckily this is a very rare condition.

As mentioned before, color blindness is an inherited condition that is characterized by a deficiency of certain types of cones or an outright absence of these cones.

Cones and rods are the photoreceptors of the retina. However, rods do not perceive colors, while cones are the only one responsible for color vision. Cones are located at the central part of the retina, also known as the macula. The highest concentration of cones is located in the center part of the macula, known as the fovea.

When and how is color blindness diagnosed?

If you are having problems distinguishing certain colors, or if people around you tell you that the color you think it is, is not the real color than you may have color blindness. However, if you develop color blindness after you have been able to see the full range of colors, you should see an eye doctor, as you might be having other eye and vision problems, like cataracts for example.

It is often diagnosed at a young age, in the time when children usually learn to distinguish different colors. However, sometimes this problem is diagnosed only later in life. In cases when the symptoms are mild, a person may not even realize that he or she is having problems distinguishing different colors.

Is there a treatment for color blindness?

People with color blindness are able to adapt and lead a life without too much trouble. However, they are not able to work in certain fields that require handling various colors, graphic designers for example.

Special lenses that enhance color perception are sometimes used to resolve this problem. These filters are available in eyeglasses or in the contact lenses.