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Living With Color Blindness

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Color vision problems are a generally hereditary disability which impairs the ability to differentiate among colors. Color blindness is caused by a deficiency in the cones in the retina, generally preventing an individual's ability to differentiate varieties of red or green, but occasionally influencing the perception of other shades as well.

Color perception depends on cones found in the eye's macula. People are usually born with three kinds of pigmented cones, each of which perceives different wavelengths of color. When it comes to color, the length of the wave is directly linked to the perceived color tone. Long waves are seen as reds, medium-length waves produce green tones and shorter waves are perceived as blue tones. Which pigmented cone is affected impacts the nature and level of the color deficiency.

Green-red color vision problems are more frequent in men than among women because the genetic code is sex-linked and recessive.

Color blindness is not a debilitating disability, but it can impair educational progress and work performance. Lacking the ability to see colors as peers do could severely impact a student's self-image. For individuals in the workplace, color blindness could be a drawback when competing against peers in certain industries.

There are a few evaluation methods for color blindness. The most common is the Ishihara color exam, named after its designer. For this test a plate is shown with a group of dots in a circle in seemingly random colors and sizes. Inside the circle one with proper color vision can see a digit in a particular color. The patient's ability to make out the digit inside the dots of contrasting colors indicates the level of red-green color sight.

While genetic color blindness can't be treated, there are a few measures that can assist to improve the situation. Some evidence shows that using tinted contacts or glasses which minimize glare can help people to see the distinction between colors. More and more, computer applications that assist people to differentiate color better depending on their particular condition are becoming available for regular computers and for handheld devices. There are also promising experiments being conducted in gene therapy to improve color vision.

The extent to which color blindness limits an individual depends on the variant and degree of the deficiency. Some individuals can adapt to their deficiency by familiarizing themselves with alternative clues for determining a color scheme. For instance, many individuals are capable of learning the order of traffic signals or comparing items with reference objects like green trees or the blue sky.

If you suspect that you or a family member could have a color vision deficiency it's advised to see an eye doctor. The sooner a diagnosis is made, the sooner you can help. Feel free to call our Crystal Lake, IL eye care practice to schedule an exam.