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Color Blindness: What It Is And Who Is At Risk

Color Blindness Color blindness isn't true blindness. It actually refers to the inability to distinguish between certain colors. Some people are more at risk for color blindness than others. Color blindness doesn't mean someone can't see any colors, but rather has difficulty discerning between certain colors.

Most people have red, blue and green color receptors in their eyes in addition to black and white receptors. When someone is missing one or more of the color receptors, they are diagnosed as "color blind." Typically people are missing red or green color receptors, though sometimes they may be missing both.

Studies suggest as much as 10% of the male population have some form of color blindness. Interestingly the condition is very rare in females. Some males are also prone to an extremely rare form of color blindness, yellow-blue color blindness. If someone lacked all three color receptors they would only see in black and white. While this is possible, it is not at all common.

Many feel color blindness is a heredity condition. Still others believe it results from a disease within the optic nerve or retina. Typically people with acquired color vision problems or those resulting from illness or injury gradually realize increasingly worse symptoms over time. If you are born with color blindness however, as is roughly 8% of the male population, your condition will likely remain stable over time.

Hereditary color problems are often linked to the X chromosome. This means typically a mother passes on this defect to her son.

Signs and Symptoms of Color Blindness
How do you know if you are color blind? There are several different types of color blindness including acquired and complete. Signs and symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty distinguishing between various shades of green and red or less often, blues and greens.
  • Reduced or blurry vision at times (usually resulting from illness or injury).
  • Seeing objects in shades of gray (least common sign or symptom).
  • Nystagmus
Diagnosis and Treatment of Color Blindness
Your doctor can help identify whether you have color blindness. Typically an eye care professional will use colored eye charts referred to as the Ishihara Test Plates. Using these plates of colored dots your eye care professional can help decide if you have color vision problems.

There is actually no treatment for color blindness. Fortunately most people present with mild forms of the condition. Usually you can learn to adapt to the condition and learn how to associate proper colors with certain objects. Most people learn ways of identifying colors correctly, though they may still have some difficulty when detecting colors in unfamiliar or new situations.

Coping With Color Blindness
We often think of color blind people as those who have difficulty matching their clothes. While some people who wear a black and a blue sock may be color blind, most probably make that mistake while dressing in the dark. While having color blindness may make dressing tricky in some situations, by and large most people with this condition get around just fine.

If you do have concerns about color blindness, be sure you consult with your eye care professional. Together you can determine the extent or severity of your problem and discern an appropriate cause and remedy if appropriate. In some cases this may simply involve developing a system within your home or place of work to help you cope with your condition and lead as ordinary a life as possible.

Keep in mind thousands of people are color blind, and most people live ordinary and very rewarding lives! Consider your condition a neat way to break into conversation and meet new people. After all, it's not every day you start a conversation with, "Hey, did you know I am color blind?"

Think you might be color blind? Try this color blindness test.

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