What is Color Blindness?

Published on
January 5, 2022

There are two types of cells in the retina that receive light. Those are rods and cones. So rods are going to be more for dim lighting situations. And cones are going to be more densely populated in the center of your vision. And they're going to be responsible for your color vision. There are red cones, green cones, and blue cones. Most commonly when we talk about color blindness, this is going to be difficulty in seeing red or green. This type of color blindness is most prevalent in men, with approximately 8% of males having some form of color blindness. In more rare cases people will have difficulty with blue as well. In most cases, color blindness is a congenital condition, meaning it's something that you're born with. In some instances, we can also have an acquired color deficiency. And that would be something more associated with pathology, things like macular degeneration, optic nerve diseases, glaucoma, other things like that.

Can you treat congenital color blindness? 

With congenital color blindness, there really isn't any treatment, but it's a stable condition. So it's not typically something that we have to worry about. Sometimes it's more of a deficiency, where there may be confusion in red and green but color appreciation otherwise. And then In more severe cases, we may have true color blindness where somebody is unable to differentiate between the colors. So my son Gavin has a condition where he is missing the red and green photo pigment in his cones. And because of that, he's unable to appreciate red or green. So he only sees blues and yellows, although the saturation is different. 

What does the world look like to someone with color blindness?

To give you an example of what someone with a red and green colorblindness might see, in the video at 1 minute and 33 seconds, I put the filter in place. What you'll notice when the filter comes into place over the camera is that the coloration of my shirt will change and then the color in the picture will change. So if we remove the filter again, you'll be able to appreciate the reds and the yellows and the hues and then if we put the filter back in place, then you'll see what it would be like for somebody who is missing those colors.

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