We live in a world that is both naturally full of color, and where color is used as a tool in countless ways. From primary colors of red, blue and yellow to subtle changes in hue that account for the unimaginable number of shades that dominate our planet, there is no escaping the glorious technicolor in which we exist. Nevertheless, being able to see in color is something that many of us take for granted and for many people – approximately around 1 in every 12 men, and 1 in 200 women, the world is far less vibrant. These people are said to be color blind.
Contrary to what many believe, people who are color blind rarely have the inability to see any color at all. This condition, called achromatopsia, is fairly rare. Instead, people who are color blind find it tricky to differentiate between specific colors – something which can have a significant impact on their day to day life. Many people prefer to refer to their condition as color deficiency instead.
Color blindness is believed to be primarily related to genetics. If you have a close family member with the condition, you are much more likely to be diagnosed with it yourself. More men are affected than women because it is the X chromosome that carries the color-blindness gene. If your color blindness is genetic, you will have it from birth and the quality of your color vision should remain steady for the duration of your lifetime.
There are some diseases that can cause people to be diagnosed with color-blindness in later life including diabetes, liver disease, Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. If you experience a severe eye disease, your ability to see color may also be affected. Examples of eye diseases that can affect color vision include macular degeneration and glaucoma. If you develop color blindness in later life, you may find that the severity of your condition worsens over time.
Most people who are classed as being color blind find it most difficult to tell the difference between shades of green and red. For a smaller number of patients, the struggle is between blue and yellow. This color deficiency determines how they see, or don’t see, other colors. For example, a patient with red-green color deficiency might mix up blue and purple pens because they are unable to see the red element that turns blue into purple.
Studies have found that out of a standard box of 24 colored pens, a patient who has red-green color blindness will only be able to accurately identify around 5-6 of them. The colors that they can see may also appear muted and not as vibrant as they actually are to someone who doesn’t suffer from color deficiency.