Colour blindness, more accurately referred to as colour vision deficiency is a condition that makes people unable to see colours in a normal way. Colour vision deficiency is the decreased ability to see colour or differences in colour. It often involves people struggling to tell the difference between certain colours. It is a genetic condition that’s more common in men than women although women are more likely to carry the defective chromosome than men.
Symptoms of colour blindness
You know you’re colour bind if you have trouble seeing:
- The difference between colours
- How bright colours are
- Different shades of colours
People with colour blindness often have difficulty distinguishing between:
- Different shades of red and green
- Different shades of blue and yellow
- Any other colours
Other related symptoms are:
- Rapid eye movement
- Sensitivity toward bright light
Types of colour blindness
The eye has wavelength-sensitive cells called cones that play a critical role in the perception of colour. The cones are sensitive to blue, green, and red wavelengths of light. If the cones lack one or more of the wavelength-sensitive chemicals, you will be unable to distinguish the affected colour.
Duetan: where the deficiency is in the green cones.
Protan: where the deficiency is in the red cones.
Tritan: where the deficiency is in the blue cones.
Causes and risk factors
Colour blindness has several different causes including
Genetics: Inherited deficiencies are more common in men than women.
Illness: Certain medical conditions can compromise colour vision including anaemia, diabetes, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, chronic alcoholism and leukaemia.
Medication: Certain medications can alter colour vision including drugs used to treat autoimmune diseases, heart problems, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, infections, nervous disorders and psychological problems.
Ageing: Colour vision slowly deteriorates with age.
Chemicals: Exposure to certain chemicals and fertilizers may compromise colour vision.
Lifestyle factors: Use of alcohol and tobacco
Effects of colour blindness
Colour blindness has a significant negative effect on the daily lives of people living with it. It affects:
Food and cooking: The person has difficulty selecting fruit or telling based on colour whether food is properly cooked when they’re preparing food which can lead t bad tasting food.
Driving: The person’s ability to drive a car is affected given that traffic lights are red and green.
Clothing: Selecting clothes which is a nearly thoughtless task for most people is far more challenging.
School: The early years of schooling can be difficult especially because the curriculum largely revolves around colours and imagery.
Career: Viewing presentations can be difficult because of lighting, background colours, graphics, and font colours. Certain careers may be out of reach for people affected by colour blindness including
- Police officers
- Graphic and web designers
- Decorators and painters
These jobs rely too much on colours, and colour coding sometimes for safety proposes to risk having someone with impaired colour vision decoding data.
Currently, there is no cure for colour blindness, however, there are speciality lenses that can enhance colour vision and minimize any type of colour vision deficiency. This eyewear can be used by different people including:
- Professionals who need to pass colour vision screenings at work
- People who play sports
- Artists, designers and others who rely on colour vision to do their work
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