The inability to perceive colors or color blindness is a generally innate disability which prohibits one's ability to differentiate between color tones. Color blindness is caused by a deficiency in the cones in the retina. Typically, it affects a person's capability to distinguish between variants of red or green, but it can influence the ability to see additional colors as well.
The discernment of different hues is dependent upon the cones found in the eye's macula. Humans are generally born with three varieties of cones, each of which perceive different wavelengths of color tone. This is comparable to wavelengths of sound. With pigment, the length of the wave is directly linked to the perceived color tone. Short waves project blues, medium-length waves project green tones and long waves generate red tones. The pigmented cone that is missing impacts the nature and level of the color deficiency.
Because it is a sex-linked genetically recessive trait, green-red color deficiency is more frequent in men than in females. Nevertheless, there are a number of women who do experience varying degrees of color vision deficiency, particularly yellow-blue color blindness.
Color vision deficiencies are not a debilitating condition, but it can impair learning and development and work performance. The inability to see colors as peers do can severely harm a student's confidence. For working people, color blindness could become a disadvantage when competing against normal-sighted peers in a similar field.
Eye doctors use a few exams for color blindness. The most widely used is the Ishihara color test, named after its designer. For this test a patient views a plate with a circle of dots in seemingly random sizes and colors. Within the circle one with proper color vision can see a digit in a particular color. The individual's ability to make out the number inside the dots of contrasting hues indicates the level of red-green color sight.
Even though hereditary color vision deficiencies can't be treated, there are a few measures that can help to make up for it. Some people find that wearing colored lenses or anti-glare glasses can help to perceive the distinction between colors. More and more, new computer applications are on the market for standard computers and for smaller devices that can assist people to distinguish color better depending upon their specific diagnosis. There are also promising experiments being conducted in gene therapy to enhance color vision.
The extent to which color blindness limits a person depends on the kind and degree of the condition. Some patients can adapt to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with alternative cues for determining a color scheme. For example, some might familiarizing themselves with the shape of traffic signs in place of recognizing red, or compare items with reference objects like green plants or a blue body of water.
If you suspect that you or a loved one could have a color vision deficiency it's advised to see an optometrist. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can help. Contact our Bloomington, IL optometry practice to schedule an exam.