Colour Blindness: Living Without Technicolour

Every day, most of us enjoy a life filled with rich, vibrant colour. But for some, the day is filled with browns, beiges and grays. Colour blindness affects 1 in 200 women, and 1 in 12 men. It’s a common struggle that impacts the way people carry on day to day. What causes colour blindness, and why can some people see colour while others can’t? What Does Colour Blindness Actually Mean? When most of us hear the term “colour blind” we think of a complete lack of colour; just a world of black, white, and gray. In truth, there are

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Every day, most of us enjoy a life filled with rich, vibrant colour. But for some, the day is filled with browns, beiges and grays. Colour blindness affects 1 in 200 women, and 1 in 12 men. It’s a common struggle that impacts the way people carry on day to day. What causes colour blindness, and why can some people see colour while others can’t?

What Does Colour Blindness Actually Mean?

When most of us hear the term “colour blind” we think of a complete lack of colour; just a world of black, white, and gray. In truth, there are a number different types of colour blindness: some are quite mild while others are quite expansive. In fact, colour “blindness” is really more of a colour deficiency.

Your eye detects light with a series of rods and cones. These rods and cones are each individually programmed to recognize a certain frequency of light. When someone has colour deficiency, it means that they are deficient in, or possibly outright missing a specific set of rods and cones, meaning they can’t detect that frequency (or colour) of light.

Colour deficiency comes in a variety of forms; each one based on which cones and rods they are missing.

Anomalous Trichromacy

This form of colour deficiency indicates that the patient can see normally for the most part, but with a lower sensitivity to a specific colour. There are 3 types of anomalous trichromacy: protanomaly (a low sensitivity to red), deuteranomaly (a low sensitivity to green), and tritanomaly (a low sensitivity to blue). Tritanomaly is exceptionally rare.

Dichromacy

People with this type of colour deficiency only have two types of cones. As a result, they experience some vibrant colours, while others are practically indistinguishable. For example: if someone is unable to register the colour red, they will often have trouble discerning the difference between red and black, or green and orange.

Monochromacy

When a patient has monochromacy, they see no colour at all. All of their vision is perceived in black, white, and gray. This particular colour deficiency is exceptionally rare, and sometimes causes the patient to have to wear dark tinted glasses, even indoors.

Causes of Colour Deficiency

For the most part, colour deficiency is genetic. The gene is usually passed down through the mother, though it doesn’t always manifest in the mother herself.

Although it is not particularly common, colour deficiency can occur as a result of disease, such as Parkinson’s or Kallman’s Syndrome.

Synthesizing Colour Vision

There is no cure or treatment for colour deficiency. There are, however, innovations to “trick” the eyes of a colour deficient person into seeing colour.

Scientists have developed lenses that amplify the natural look of specific colours. Once the light is easier to pick up, the cones and rods can do a better job of perceiving that colour. These lenses will not cure or end colour blindness. But they do allow the colour deficient person to experience the full colour of the world, reducing their struggles, and providing a new perspective on their environment.

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