Skip to main content

We are located next to LensCrafters at Wolfchase Galleria near Dillards.

Home » What's New » Understanding Color Blindness

Understanding Color Blindness


Color vision problems are typically an innate disability that impairs someone's ability to differentiate among shades of color. Color blindness is a result of a dysfunction of the cones in the eye's retina, typically preventing an individual's power to distinguish between varieties of red or green, but it can affect the perception of additional hues also.


The discernment of color depends on the cones located within the retina of the eye. Humans are generally born with three types of pigmented cones, each of which perceive different wavelengths of color tone. This is comparable to the wavelengths of sound. When it comes to shades of color, the size of the wave is directly linked to the resulting color. Short waves produce blue tones, medium-length waves project green tones and longer waves generate reds. Which pigmented cone is missing has an impact on the nature and seriousness of the color blindness.


Green-red color blindness is more common in males than in females since the genes are linked to gender and are recessively inherited.


There are many cases in which people acquire color blindness later on resulting from another condition including medicinal side effects, cataracts and especially macular degeneration. Fortunately, with these situations, it may be possible to reverse the color deficiency when the condition is treated.


Optometrists use numerous exams for color blindness. The most common is the Ishihara color exam, named after its designer. For this test a plate is shown with a circle of dots in seemingly random colors and sizes. Within the circle one with proper color vision can see a digit in a particular color. The individual's capability to see the digit inside the dots of contrasting shades indicates the level of red-green color blindness.


While hereditary color blindness can't be corrected, there are some options that can help to improve the situation. For some using tinted lenses or anti-glare glasses can help people to see the differences between colors. Increasingly, new computer applications are being developed for common personal computers and for mobile machines that can help people enhance color distinction depending on their specific diagnosis. There is also interesting research being conducted in gene therapy to correct color vision.


The extent to which color vision problems limit a person depends on the kind and degree of the deficiency. Some patients can adapt to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with substitute cues for colored objects or signs. For example, they can learn the order of traffic signals or compare objects with paradigms like green grass or the blue sky.


If you notice signs that you or a child could have a color vision deficiency it's important to get tested by an eye doctor. The earlier a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Memphis, TN optometry practice for information about scheduling an exam.