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Understanding Being Colour Blind

Red and white candy canes, emerald green christmas trees, and cherry red Santa suits. Red and green are definitely the trade mark colours of Christmas! But did you know that the colours red and green are also the colours that are most often affected when people are colour blind? Many people think that being colour blind, means seeing the world in shades of black, grey, and white. Often people are not aware of what being colour blind truly means. Being colour blind is a fairly common condition (especially in men). Our blog article this week hopefully can answer some questions on this fairly common eye condition.  

What Is A Colour Deficiency Or Colour Blindness?

Being colour blind is a fairly common eye condition. Colour blindnesses affects approximately 1 out of 12 men and 1 out of 200 women. The reason behind being colour blind is still being researched, but it is believed to be because of faulty cones or because of a defect in the pathway between the brain and the cones within the eyes. The cones are light sensitive cells which are responsible for seeing colour. People who are colour blind are often able to see images just as clear as others who are not colour blind. The difference is that a person who has a colour defect may confuse or mix up colours. This is because they can’t ‘see’ or ‘distinguish’ a certain colour element within specific colours.

Types Of Colour Blindness

Often people think that being colour blind means seeing the world in black and white. Just like an old TV. However, having this type of colour blindness (monochromacy) is extremely rare. There are many different types of colour blindness. Most people who are colour blind are red / green colourblind. This hinders them from distinguishing certain shades of red and green, as well as other colours that are made up from red and green. These types of deficiency can be mild, moderate, or sever, depending upon the defect of the cones.

Why Are Some People Colour blind?

The type of colour blindness that a person may experience, is related to a defect in a specific colour sensitive cone within the eye. The retina has three types of cone cells. One which perceives the colour blue, one that perceives green and a third that perceives red. These three different types of cones work together so that you can see all colours. A person has a colour deficiency because one type of cone is faulty. Because of this they won’t be able to see some colours in that colour range.

What Causes Colour Blindness?

There are a couple of different reasons why a person may be colour blind. But for most people who are colour blind, it is because they are born with the condition. Being colour blind is usually because of a hereditary genetic condition. This condition is most often passed down by the mother. It results because of a gene carried on the X chromosome (for this reason, more men are colourblind than women). Other individuals may suffer from colour deficiencies as a result from diseases like diabetes & multiple sclerosis, from taking certain medications, or just even because of the natural aging process of the eye.

Diagnosing Colourblindness

Diagnosing a colour deficiency can sometimes be hard, especially in small children. This is because young children are often are not aware that they have an issue with their vision. An Optometrist will check and diagnose colour deficiencies as a routine part of an eye exam. This is done using different tests, tools, and techniques. As colour plays an important role in our everyday lives, it is important to identify whether someone has a colour deficiency early.

If you have further questions about colour blindness or vision defects, make sure to ask your optometrist at your next eye exam!

Article Written By: Trina Vanaalst


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