Color Blindness

What Is Color Blindness

Color Vision Deficiency, more commonly referred to as Color Blindness, is the difficulty or inability to distinguish certain shades of color. In severe cases of true color blindness, people experience the world as black and white without any color at all. However, very few people actually have a color blindness diagnosis. The more accurate term for color blindness is color deficient. People are either born with a color deficiency, or they can acquire color vision loss later in life due to a disease or aging eyes.

What Causes Color Vision Deficiency?

There are two main causes of color deficiency. One is genetics, and the other cause is from certain ocular and chronic diseases or illnesses that affect the optic nerve or retina.


For the majority of cases, color deficiency is an inherited condition. This genetic cause is due to faulty development of the specific cells that perceive color, called the neural retinal cones, and their ability to transmit information to the optic nerve. Roughly 8% of white males are born with some type of color deficiency, while less than 1% of females have color deficiency. Women are typically carriers of the color deficient gene, which is an x-linked recessive gene passed from a mother to her son. Inherited color vision deficiency does not lead to additional loss of vision or blindness.

Ocular And Chronic Diseases

Some ocular diseases can cause deficits in color vision. These eye diseases include glaucoma, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Chronic diseases that may reduce color vision include diabetes, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, leukemia, sickle cell anemia, chronic alcoholism, and liver disease.

Can You Go Color Blind?

People can acquire color blindness or color deficiencies later in life from certain diseases, as mentioned above. There are additional, rarer causes of acquired color blindness, including the following:

  • Serious Eye Injuries - can lead to color blindness or complete loss of vision. Always take precautions to prevent eye injuries by wearing proper eye protection in situations with a risk of eye injury.
  • Chemicals such as carbon monoxide, carbon disulphide, styrene, and chemicals containing lead can cause color blindness. Protect eyes from chemical exposure with eye safety goggles.
  • Strokes or Severe Head Traumas can damage areas of the brain and eyes, resulting in loss of color vision.
  • Aging can affect the ability to see colors. Color vision can gradually decrease with age, especially in people over 60 years of age. However, the color vision loss is typically minor.

To prevent the more rare causes of acquired color blindness, always follow eye safety practices and protect your eyes from injury and sun damage.

Color Blindness Symptoms And Signs

It is common for a person who has inherited poor color vision to be unaware of the deficiency. Parents can miss that their child has a color vision deficiency until their child struggles with learning and identifying colors.

  • Difficulty distinguishing between colors, especially between red and green colors or yellow and blue colors
  • Difficulty identifying colors of the same shade or hue
  • Identifying a brighter, more vibrant color as brown, black, or gray
  • Confusion or low attention span when coloring pictures at home or at school
  • Coloring objects abnormal colors, for example, coloring an apple purple or the sky yellow

If your child displays any of these color blindness symptoms, schedule an eye exam with an eye doctor as soon as possible and request a color blind test for kids. A comprehensive eye exam is recommended for all children before they start school. Early detection and diagnosis of any vision issues, including color vision deficiency, are important for your child’s learning, development, confidence, and success in school.

Color Blindness Diagnosis

will be shown a series of pseudoisochromatic plates, which are pictures composed of colored dots. The pictures contain hidden numbers or figures that can only be seen by people with normal color vision. Patients with normal color vision can distinguish the numbers or figures easily, whereas color deficient patients will not be able to identify them. Most patients who have difficulty with the color vision test are unable to differentiate between shades of red and green (most common) or blue and yellow (less common).

Learning materials for children often rely heavily on color perception. For this reason, early detection of color vision deficiency through a color blind test is critical. Accommodations can be made for children with a color blindness diagnosis during the critical phases of learning.

Color Blindness Treatment

For acquired color blindness, treating the disease or eye injury responsible for the color vision loss may help improve color vision. While there is no cure for inherited color deficiency, there are a few color blindness treatment options and ways for coping with the condition.

  • Color Blind Glasses have special tinted lenses that increase the ability to distinguish color.
  • Tinted Contact Lenses for people with color vision deficiency help them differentiate between colors.
  • Organizing or labeling clothing colors with the help of family or friends enables ease of recognition and proper matching of colors.
  • Recognizing order rather than color improves the ability to correctly identify colors. For example, it’s helpful to recognize the order of signals on a traffic light where red is on the top, yellow in the middle, and green on the bottom.

While there are challenges that result from color vision deficiency, most people, especially those with inherited color blindness, are able to adapt to the condition with ease. Knowing if you or a loved one is color deficient is vital in providing the treatment needed for improved quality of vision and life. If you have any concerns about color blindness in your family, schedule a visit with a Visionworks affiliated eye doctor for a color vision test today.

Research for reference: