Do you ever wonder how people see colors? It begins with the light that enters the planet. Although some people think they’re all white, in reality, they come in different wavelengths, bearing their respective colors.
What we then see depends on what our eyes reflect on our surroundings. We have our cone cells to thank for that. However, for certain people, these don’t function well. This makes them color blind.
What Is Color Blindness?
Color blindness is a disorder that makes it difficult to perceive color. It’s not the same as being blind, where you can’t see at all or see only in varying shades of gray.
What causes color blindness? It results from defective cones in the eye, which are responsible for perceiving color, although there are risk factors.
The first one is genetics, which means if any or both of the parents have the condition, the child will likely exhibit it. However, it is rare to happen in women. In fact, in one report, it can occur in 1 in every 200 females as opposed to 1 in every 12 males.
Color blindness, it turns out, is an X-chromosome-linked trait. Although both have this chromosome, women have two while men have one. To become color blind, the genetic problem should affect the two X chromosomes, which doesn’t happen all the time.
The conditions can also develop due to injury or other health conditions, such as type 2 diabetes. This metabolic illness causes neuropathy or damage to the nerves connected to the eyes.
Types of Color Blindness
There are four main types of color blindness:
Achromatopsia, which refers to the inability to perceive any color partially or completely, is extremely rare, so it’s usually not listed as one of the main types. It affects only 1 in every 30,000 people, who are likely to see shades of gray, black, and white. The first three types all stem from problems with cone cells in the eye:
About 1.3 percent of the population has protanopia. This means they’re missing an entire class of red cone cells. They can still see some shades of red on a good day. On a bad day, it basically looks like black and white to them. Everything fades off into the darkness around red and green, which they might perceive as yellow.
This impacts at least 6 percent of males and less than a percent of females. They can’t see green properly. Everything that looks red to a normal person will look dark red, brown, black to them. Everything green will fade out towards black. The color they can see the best is blue.
About a percent of both males and females have tritanopia. These refer to people who cannot fully see red, green, and blue light. Yellow, orange, and red all sort of blend together into one shade too. Anything close to true violet or true blue would be especially difficult for them to tell apart from other colors.
Treating Color Blindness
Except in rare instances, such as sudden color blindness due to migraine attacks, this condition is lifelong and incurable. However, it can be managed. If color blindness happens because of an underlying condition, like diabetes or injury, dealing with this could prevent or delay the progression.
Some studies also suggest that acupuncture therapy can improve the vision of people with color blindness. One research in the Journal of Korean Medicine, this ancient Chinese practice can target spots to stimulate the optic nerves and the retina.
Moreover, some people opt for acupuncture to manage glaucoma, a chronic progressive eye condition characterized by the death of optic nerves because of abnormal levels of intraocular pressure. Complementary therapy can help decrease this pressure.
Experts also use other techniques for color-blind people:
1. Color Contrast
The first one is using color contrast. It means using colors that contrast each other, making the differences between them more visible for people with this disability.
For instance, if two objects are green, use dark green on light green instead of both being the same shade of green. Another technique is wearing tinted lenses, which increase or decrease chromatic contrasts. Then there is assimilation training conducted by placing colored filters over spectacles, computer screens, etc. The person with color blindness will take in an altered color spectrum, creating a new way to perceive the world around them.
2. Visual Rehabilitation
This method aims to help people compensate for their color blindness by using special glasses. These can enlarge one color and reduce another. It also makes it possible for people without vision loss to see better contrast, depth, etc., increasing visibility.
Depending on the severity of color blindness, it can limit mobility for the affected ones. However, a growing number of strategies and technologies are now available to help them cope.