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Color Blindness: An In-depth Look


Color blindness is a condition affecting one's capability to distinguish colors under normal lighting conditions or to discern colors as they are normally seen. Commonly, the disorder is present at birth, but it can also result from accidents or a variety of diseases of the eye.


The way we perceive colors is dependent upon cones located within the retina of the eye. Humans are typically born with three types of cones, each perceiving various wavelengths of color. With colors, the length of the wave is directly associated with the resulting color. Short waves are perceived as blue tones, medium-length waves are perceived as green tones and long waves produce reds. Which type of cone is involved determines the spectrum and severity of the color blindness.


Because it is a gender-linked recessive trait, red-green color blindness is more frequent in males than in women. Still, there are a small number of women who do experience some degree of color blindness, particularly blue-yellow deficiencies.


Some individuals develop color vision deficiencies later in life as a result of another condition such as macular degeneration, glaucoma and aging. Thankfully, it could be possible to reverse the condition once the cause is treated


There are a number of tests for color blindness. The most widely used is the Ishihara color test, named after its designer. For this test a plate is shown with a group of dots in a circle in different sizes and colors. Within the circle one with proper color vision can see a numerical figure in a particular shade. The patient's capability to see the number inside the dots of contrasting colors reveals the level of red-green color sight.


While hereditary color blindness can't be corrected, there are some measures that can assist to make up for it. Some evidence shows that wearing tinted lenses or glasses which block glare can help to perceive the differences between colors. More and more, computer programs are on the market for common PCs and for smaller machines that can help people distinguish color better depending on their particular condition. There is also interesting research being conducted in gene therapy to enhance the ability to perceive colors.


The extent to which color blindness limits a person is dependent upon the variant and degree of the condition. Some patients can accommodate to their condition by learning alternative cues for colored objects or signs. For example, one can familiarize oneself with the shape of stop signs in place of recognizing red, or contrast objects with color paradigms like green trees or the blue sky.


If you notice signs that you or your loved one might be color blind it's important to see an eye doctor. The sooner you are aware of a problem, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Temecula, CA eye care practice to schedule an exam.

We are so excited to finally be in our new facility at 31217 Pauba Road, Suite 100, in the two-story office building just off Pauba and Margarita Roads.

We share the building with Fusion Church, The Loft Salon and Paloma del Sol Homeowners Association offices.

We hope you will stop by and say hello.

Dr. Alan M. Winkelstein