Color Blindness: Types, Causes, & Solutions
Color Blindness may sound scary, but don’t fret! This vision condition affects 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women, meaning many people experience some type of color blindness or know someone who is color blind. But what is color blindness and are there any ways to help correct it? Read on to learn more about the types, causes, and solutions for color blindness in this complete guide.
What Is Color Blindness?
There are 1 million different shades of colors that can be seen by a person with normal color vision. The technical term for anyone who can see colors normally is a Trichromat. However, some people have deficiencies in their nerve cell receptors which causes them to not see specific colors well or in some cases, any color at all. While these people may still have perfect vision in every other aspect, they would be considered color blind, due to their inability to perceive colors normally.
What Causes Color Blindness?
Every eye has two different nerve cell receptors in the retina that are called rods and cones. These parts work both together and separately to help people see. Typically, there are more rods than cones. The rods are sensitive and help people perceive shapes, size, and brightness by adjusting to the light. The cones help to provide visual detail and color perception but work best in bright light. There are three different cones to help see specific colors, one red, one blue, and one green. Color Blindness occurs when these cones are weakened or their function is destroyed. The most typical cause of color blindness is genetics. This is why many people who experience color blindness may also have parents or grandparents that are color blind as well. However, color blindness isn’t always inherited. Cone damage or weakness can also be affected by physical or chemical damage, including eye strain from old age, eye diseases, the side effects of some medications, brain or nervous system trauma, and exposure to environmental chemicals.
Are There Different Types of Color Blindness?
There are seven types of color blindness in three different categories. Four types are from red-green color blindness, and two are from blue-yellow color deficiencies. The last type is rare and describes a vision that lacks total color perception overall. The most common type of color blindness is red-green which, as it sounds, makes it difficult to tell the difference between red and green. Here is a little more information about each color blindness category and type.
Red-Green Color Blindness - Most Common
The four types of red-green color blindness are:
- Deuteranomaly - The most common of red-green color blindness types, this color impairment makes any green colors look red.
- Protanomaly - This makes any red color look green and not as bright.
- Protanopia - This type makes the viewer blind to red colors.
- Deuteranopia - Those experiencing deuteranopia are blind to green colors.
Blue-Yellow Color Blindness
These types of color blindness make it hard to tell the difference between the colors yellow and blue. They are also less common than red-green color blindness. The two types of blue-yellow color blindness are:
- Tritanomaly - This type of color blindness makes it difficult to tell the difference between yellow and red, and also blue and green.
- Tritanopia - While this type diminishes color brightness overall, it also makes it hard to distinguish the difference between purple and red, blue and green, and yellow and pink.
Complete Color Blindness - Rare
Some people who don’t have any working cone cells will experience complete color blindness. This uncommon type of color blindness is known as achromatopsia or monochromacy, which results in no color perception. All colors will look black, white, or gray to someone with this type of color blindness. People with achromatopsia may also experience uncontrollable eye movement and extreme sensitivity to bright light.
Are There Any Solutions to Solve Color Blindness?
At this time, there aren’t any proven cures or medical treatments to reverse the effects of color blindness. For some people experiencing color blindness as a side-effect of their medication, stopping or switching to a different prescription can improve their color vision. The good news is that once diagnosed, most color-blind people can enjoy a full and healthy life without much effect on their daily activities.
Color blind people can adapt to situations, such as driving, by memorizing the order of toplight colors to know when to stop and go. They can also get assistance from someone with normal color vision who can help label necessary clothing or household items by color for future use. Some cell phone apps can be downloaded and used by anyone to help identify colors too. Finally, for some types of colorblindness, there may be eyewear such as glasses or contact lenses that can help replace deficient eye cones and restore some color vision. It’s important to talk with an eye doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and to find out what solutions are available to you.
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