Poor Color Vision

1 What is Poor Color Vision?

Poor color vision is characterized by inability to differentiate between certain colors.

Although people use colorblind and poor color vision synonymously, true colorblindness refers to the condition where a person lack total color vision, which is extremely rare. Poor color vision is inherited and men are more likely to be affected.

Optometrist vs Ophthalmologist

Most of the people with this condition are incapable of distinguishing between certain shades of red and green.

Poor color vision can be caused by certain eye disease and some medication.

2 Symptoms

Symptoms of poor color vision include not being able to differentiate different shades of colors.

Some people may have poor color vision and figure it out when the problems arise such as, problem while differentiating the colors in traffic light or interpreting color-coded learning materials.

People with poor color vision may not be able to differentiate the shades of red and green or blue and yellow or any other colors.

Most of the people with poor color vision are incapable of seeing some shades of red and green. The defects can range from mild to severe. If a person is red-green deficient, s/he is not totally insensitive to both colors.

When to see a Doctor?

If you think you are incapable of making distinction between certain colors, visit an ophthalmologist for. A child should get comprehensive eye test as well as color vision testing before they join school. Inherited poor color vision can't be cured but poor color vision due to illness or eye injury can be improved.

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3 Causes

Some of the causes of poor color vision are:

  • Inherited Disorder: Inherited poor color vision is more likely to occur in male. The most common color deficiency is red-green whereas blue-green is least common. Usually both eyes are affected and the severity doesn’t change over your lifetime.
  • Disease: Some disease that results in color deficiency are diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, chronic alcoholism, leukemia and sickle cell anemia. Usually only one eye is affected and the ability to distinguish color improves if underlying disease is treated.
  • Medication: Medication that brings alteration in color vision are drugs that treat heart problems, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction.
  • Aging: The capability of distinguishing the color deteriorates slowly as age progresses.
  • Chemicals: Some chemicals like carbon disulfide and fertilizers can cause loss of color vision.

Light enters your eyes through cornea and passes through lens and vitreous body (jelly-like tissue in the eyes) and finally to cones (color sensitive cells) in the retina. The chemical in cones distinguished the primary colors, red, blue and green. Poor color vision occurs when cone lack one or more light sensitive chemicals.

4 Making a Diagnosis

Your general practitioner may refer you to an ophthalmologist or optometrist (doctor who specialize in eye disorders) to receive a diagnosis of poor color vision. Your doctor will give you an eye exam to see if you have any color deficiency. You will be shown specially designed pictures, made up of dots, which have shapes or numbers embedded in them. A person with color deficiency will find it hard or impossible to see the shape or numbers in the dots.

How to prepare yourself for the visit?

Getting prepared for the visit can optimize the therapy and help make the visit more fruitful.

  • List out all the symptoms.
  • Write down your key medical information.
  • Write down the names of all your medications, vitamins or supplements.

Make a list of the questions to ask your doctor. Some typical question can be:

  • How can poor color vision affect my life?
  • Are there treatments for poor color vision?
  • Are there special glasses or contact lenses I can wear to help the problem?

What your doctor wants to know?

A clear talk with your doctor can optimize the therapy and improve the outcomes. Prepare yourself to answer some essential questions from your doctor.

Your doctor might ask you typical questions like:

  • When did you first notice having trouble seeing colors?
  • Does your family have history of poor color vision?
  • Do you have any other medical conditions?
  • Are you taking any other medicines or supplements?

5 Treatment

There is no treatment for inherited poor color vision.

If poor color vision is associated with the use of certain medicines or conditions, it can be treated with other therapies. If poor color vision is associated with eye disease or injury, treating the disease improves the color vision.

  • Using colored filter over eyeglasses or colored contact lens can improve the discernment of contrasts but is unable to improve your ability to distinguish colors.
  • According to recent research color deficiency due to retinal disorder can be treated by gene replacement techniques. This research which is still under study might be available soon in the future.

6 Lifestyle and Coping

Lifestyle modifications are necessary in order to cope with poor color vision.

The ways with works with the people who have poor color vision are:

  • Memorizing the order of colored object or the color for example the order of color in traffic lights
  • Labeling colored item
  • Sorting and labeling your cloth with the help of someone with good color vision
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