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Color Blindness: An In-depth Look

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Color vision problems are generally an innate disability which prohibits one's ability to differentiate among colors. Color blindness is a result of a dysfunction of the cones in the eye's retina. Commonly, it decreases a person's power to distinguish between varieties of green or red, but it may influence the perception of additional colors too.

Color perception is dependent upon the cones found in the eye's macula. People are usually born with three varieties of cones, each of which perceives various wavelengths of color. When it comes to colors, the length of the wave is directly linked to the perceived color tone. Short waves produce blue tones, middle-sized waves are perceived as green tones and longer waves are seen as reds. The type of cone that is affected has an impact on the nature and level of the color blindness.

Because it is a sex-linked recessive trait, many more men are green-red color blind than women. Still, there are a number of women who do experience some degree of color blindness, specifically yellow-blue color blindness.

There are many cases where individuals acquire color blindness later in life as a result of another condition such as aging, injuries and especially macular degeneration. Fortunately, with these situations, treatment of the condition may be able to improve color vision.

Optometrists use a few exams for color blindness. The most widely used is the Ishihara color test, named after its inventor. For this test a patient views a plate with a group of dots in a circle in different sizes and colors. Within the circle one with proper color vision can see a digit in a particular color. The patient's ability to make out the number within the dots of contrasting tones indicates the level of red-green color vision.

While hereditary color blindness can't be treated, there are a few measures that might improve the situation. For some, using colored contacts or anti-glare glasses can help people to perceive the differences between colors. More and more, new computer applications are becoming available for regular PCs and even for smaller devices that can help users enhance color distinction depending on their particular condition. There are also promising experiments underway in gene therapy to improve the ability to perceive colors.

The extent to which color blindness limits an individual is dependent upon the type and severity of the condition. Some patients can accommodate to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with alternate cues for colored objects or signs. For instance, many individuals are capable of learning the order of traffic signals or contrasting items with paradigms like green trees or the blue sky.

If you notice signs that you or your family member could have a color vision deficiency it's recommended to schedule an appointment with an optometrist. The sooner you are aware of a problem, the easier it will be to live with. Contact our Duvall, WA optometrists for information about scheduling an exam.