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An In-depth Look at Color Blindness

Color vision problems are typically hereditary conditions that impair someone's ability to discern between colors. Color blindness is caused by a dysfunction of the cones in the macular area, typically damaging an individual's power to distinguish between varieties of green or red, but may adversely affect the perception of additional hues too.

Color perception is dependent upon the cones located in the eye's macula. Humans are commonly born with three kinds of cones, each perceiving different wavelengths of color. This is similar to the wavelengths of sound. When it comes to shades of color, the length of the wave is directly related to the perceived color tone. Long waves produce reds, middle-sized waves generate greens and short waves produce blues. Which pigmented cone is missing has an impact on the spectrum and level of the color deficiency.

Green-red color blindness is more frequent in men than among women because the genetic coding is sex-linked.

Color blindness is not a debilitating condition, but it can harm learning and development and restrict options for careers. Lacking the ability to distinguish colors as peers do could permanently and negatively impact a student's self-confidence. For those of working age, color blindness could present a disadvantage when running against colleagues in a similar field.

Optometrists use a few tests for the condition. The most widely used is the Ishihara color test, called after its designer. For this test a plate is shown with a group of dots in a circle in differing sizes and colors. Inside the circle appears a digit in a particular shade. The patient's capability to make out the digit inside the dots of clashing hues determines the level of red-green color vision.

Even though inherited color blindness can't be corrected, there are a few measures that can assist to improve the situation. Some people find that wearing tinted lenses or glasses which minimize glare can help people to see the distinction between colors. More and more, new computer applications are on the market for regular PCs and for smaller machines that can help people distinguish color better depending on their particular condition. There is also exciting research being conducted in gene therapy to correct color vision.

The extent to which color vision problems limit an individual depends on the type and degree of the deficiency. Some individuals can adapt to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with substitute clues for colored objects or signs. For example, they can learn the order of traffic signals or compare objects with color paradigms like the blue sky or green trees.

If you suspect that you or your loved one could be color blind it's recommended to get tested by an eye doctor. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the easier it will be to live with. Feel free to call our San Diego, CA optometrists for additional details about color blindness.