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Are you Color Blind? Take this Test! (Video)

We at Eye Care Specialists know that color blindness is a misleading term. It is really not a form of blindness at all, but a deficiency in the way someone sees color. The condition affects males much more frequently than females, at a rate of 8 percent of males and 1 percent of females. More specifically, color blindness has been found to mainly affect one in 20 Caucasian men. African-Americans, Asians and Hispanic boys have lower rates of the mostly genetic condition.

Types of Color Blindness

Contrary to popular belief, most color blind people do not see only in shades of gray—although rarely some do see the world in black, white and gray (achromatopsia). The most common form is a red-green color deficiency, though more rarely some may have inherited the trait that reduces the ability to see blue and yellow, a deficiency that surprisingly affects men and women more equally. In the eyes of a color blind person these colors may appear washed out and are easily confused with other colors.

Color blindness testing can help you determine the kind of deficiency you have.

What Causes Color Blindness?

You should see a doctor if you suddenly loose color vision, where once you could see a full spectrum. You see, color blindness occurs when light-sensitive cells in the retina no longer respond correctly to wavelength of light that typically allow people to see an array of colors.

Inherited forms of color blindness often are related to deficiencies in certain types of cones or outright absence of these cones, but sometimes the disorder is an indicator of underlying health problems, such as:

  • Cataracts. This is when a person’s natural eye lens begins to cloud, washing out color vision, and making hues much less bright. Cataract surgery can, fortunately, restore bright color vision as the clouded lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens.
  • Parkinson’s disease. Parkinson’s disease is a neurological disorder, so the light-sensitive nerve cells in the retina where vision processing occurs may be damaged and as a result cannot function properly.
  • Kallman’s syndrome. This inherited condition is inherited and involves failure of the pituitary gland, leading to unusual gender-related development, such as of sexual organs. Color blindness can be another one of the symptom related to this condition.
  • Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy. Prevalent among males, this inherited optic neuropathy can cause certain degree of color blindness. Red-green color vision defects primarily are noted with this condition.
  • Medication. A person can also suffer from a color vision deficiency from the medications used to treat high blood pressure, heart problems, psychological disorders, and exposure to harmful chemicals to the eyes. Antiepileptic drugs, like Tiagabine, has been shown to reduce color vision in about 41 percent of those taking the drug, though it does not appear to be permanent.
  • Injury. Any form of impact that damages the optic nerve or retina may also be a cause color blindness.

Color Blindness Treatment

In 2009, researchers at the University of Washington developed a kind of gene therapy that appeared to cure color blindness in monkeys. However, while these early findings look very promising, this form of gene therapy will not be considered for humans until treatments have run through many tests and are proven to be safe. Unfortunately, in the meantime there is no cure for color blindness, and though most people are able to adapt to color deficiencies, there are some coping strategies for that may help you function better in a color-oriented world.

It is important to become aware of a color deficiency early in life, to be able to compensate by training for one of the many careers that are not as dependent on the ability to see in a full range of colors. Early diagnosis also may prevent learning problems during school years, particularly because many learning materials rely heavily on color perception. This is why it is important to speak with your child’s teachers about the situation, so they can plan their lessons and presentations accordingly.

Special lenses are sometimes used to enhance color perception, which are filters that come in either contact lens or eyeglass lens form, available from a limited number of eye care practitioners in the United States and other countries. However, most individuals have more practical ways of coping with color deficiency, such as memorization. For example, one might avoid color clashes by organizing or labeling their clothing a certain way, or recognizing that a red light is at the top of a traffic signal, and green is at the bottom.

Make sure you see your eye care practitioner for extra advice if you have difficulty distinguishing colors or if you have observed this difficulty in your child.