Understanding Color Blindness

August 30th, 2021
understanding color blindness

Have you ever wondered what it means to color blind? It rarely means seeing black, white, and shades of gray—although that form does exist. Instead, color blindness is a complex condition in which colors appear slightly different for everyone.

Keep reading to gain a better understanding of this common condition.

What is Color Blindness?

Color blindness, also known as color vision deficiency, describes the inability to see colors as they are. It usually affects both eyes equally and remains stable throughout a person’s life.

But to truly understand color blindness, you must understand why it occurs. To begin, your retina contains two main types of cells—rods and cones.

  • Rods differentiate light from dark, which help in low light situations. There is only one type of rod cell, so they do not perceive color.
  • Cones, on the other hand, allow us to see colors ranging from red to violet. There are three types of cones, each responsible for perceiving red, green, and blue, respectively.

Color blindness occurs when one or more cones has a defect due to a faulty gene in the X chromosome. Because men only have one X chromosome, they are more likely to inherit this condition at birth. In fact, 8% of men are said to be color blind, while less than 1% of women deal with this condition.

Different Types of Color Blindness

Depending on the cones that are affected, a person can experience two main categories of color blindness—anomalous trichromacy and monochromacy.

  • Anomalous Trichromacy is characterized by a difficulty distinguishing the shade of a certain color or an inability to see a single color at all. Typically, it is one cone that doesn’t work in this situation. Red-green colorblindness and blue-yellow colorblindness fall into this category.
  • Monochromacy is the most severe and rarest form of this condition. It occurs when all cones are faulty or only one cone works. This results in a black-and-white world, much like old television.

How do you diagnose color blindness?

All it takes is a simple test to diagnose color blindness. Our eye doctors in the DFW metroplex will show you a shape or number hidden in a pattern of multi-colored dots. If you are color blind, you may have trouble detecting the figure.

Can you develop color blindness later in life?

As mentioned above, color blindness is usually congenital, or present at birth. However, color vision deficiency may also develop due to certain circumstances:

  • Disease
  • Damage to the retina or optic nerve
  • Side effects of drugs
  • Eye injuries or trauma
  • Cataracts

In these situations, color blindness may affect both eyes differently and continue worsening over time.

Can you drive if you’re color blind?

Those with color blindness often experience some difficulties picking out ripe fruit, cooking meat to the desired grade, and pairing together certain outfits. However, many are still able to drive, even without the ability to see red, green, etc. This is because they can still understand the positioning and perceive the illumination of the lights.

Treatment Options for Color Blindness

There is no cure for color blindness. However, specialized lenses may be helpful for restoring color in those with red-green varieties.

If you experience color vision deficiency because of cataracts, then cataract can restore clarity. Likewise, if you’ve developed color blindness due to disease, medication, or injury, our eye care specialists in Dallas will work to treat the underlying issue for enhanced color vision.

LASIK surgery will not treat your condition. This procedure focuses on reshaping the cornea to correct refractive errors, which does not enhance cone function in any way. However, if you have refractive errors, LASIK can deliver your clearest vision possible to enhance your experiences.

At Kleiman Evangelista Eye Centers, our ophthalmologists in Dallas work with you to maximize your vision because we believe you can have color blindness and still enjoy a vibrant and clear life. Give us a call and schedule your appointment today for an individualized treatment plan.