What you should know about Colour Blindness
Colour vision deficiency, commonly referred to as colour blindness, is a condition that affects a person’s ability to perceive or differentiate certain colours. Depending on the type and severity of the condition, a person with colour blindness might be unable to see certain colours or they might look washed out.
Colour vision is controlled by light-sensitive cells in your eyes known as cones. There are three types of cone cells, each containing photopigments that perceive either blue, green or red. Colour blindness occurs if one or more of these types of cones is missing or defective.
In most cases, colour blindness is genetic. However, this deficiency can also be triggered by damage to the eye, optic nerve or part of the brain that processes colour. Additionally, your ability to perceive colour can be affected by ageing, certain medications and conditions such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and cataracts.
There are several variations of colour blindness based on which cones are affected and to what degree. The most common form is red-green colour blindness, which occurs more often in men than women. A person will have red-green colour blindness if either their red or green cones don’t work properly or at all.
Another form of colour vision deficiency is blue-yellow colour blindness. Similar to the red-green variety but much less common, it’s characterized by faulty or absent blue cones. In very rare cases, total colour blindness or monochromacy occurs if all three types of cones are missing, which prevents the person from perceiving colour at all.
Common signs of colour blindness include difficulty or inability to distinguish between different colours or different shades and tones of the same colour. If someone is born with colour blindness, however, it’s often their parents or others around them who will first notice the condition. This usually occurs at a young age when the child is learning their colours.
Colour blindness is typically diagnosed during a comprehensive eye exam. One of the tests involves showing the person a series of images composed of multi-coloured dots, known as pseudoisochromatic plates. If the person has colour blindness, they won’t be able to see certain patterns within the images.
There isn’t a cure for hereditary colour blindness. If the deficiency is caused by an underlying condition, treatment for the disease could help improve colour vision. However, most people with colour blindness learn to adapt. In some cases, special tinted glasses or contact lenses can be worn to help distinguish between colours.
Colour blindness is often diagnosed in kids, so if you suspect your child has colour blindness, schedule a pediatric consultation at Optometrists’ Clinic. Alternatively, if you’re the one affected and your colour blindness is the result of cataracts, an optometrist can treat the condition with eyeglasses or surgery to improve your vision. For more information about our services, contact us today or visit one of our eye centres in Capilano, Leduc, Jasper, Mayfield and Westlock.