Color blindness is a fairly common vision issue. It affects about one in every 12 males and about one in every 20 females, so if you have this condition, you’re certainly not alone. For most people who are color blind, it is something they are born with and not typically something that occurs later in life, though that can happen to some people. When it occurs later in life, it is often associated with issues such as aging, an eye injury, a side effect of a medication, or other eye problems. Unlike other vision issues that can be solved with, say, a pair of Biofinity lenses, this problem can’t be cured. So what exactly is color blindness? You might have already guessed based on the name—it simply means that a person is unable to see color. Keep reading as we explain what actually causes this condition and the different forms of it.
Causes of Color Blindness
Color blindness is caused when a person is missing color-sensitive pigments in the cone cells of the retina, a key part of the eyeball. There are typically three types of cone cells in an eyeball. Each cone cell is responsible for seeing red, green, or blue. In some people, one or more of these cones is either damaged or missing, resulting in them being unable to see one of those three colors. It is rare for a person to be totally color blind, meaning they are unable to view any of these hues, or variations of them. Instead, they are only able to see black, white, and gray. But again, this is generally a very rare occurrence. Speaking of variations, color blindness may mean that a person can only see a version of red, but not actually the shade of red the way most of us do. The most common type of this condition is red-green. This means that a person sees the colors red and green as the same, without any distinction between the two. There are many different types of color blindness. For some people, this means they can only see blues and yellows, for instance.
How To Test Color Blindness
Color blindness is typically diagnosed using a rather simple vision test. The quiz contains a circle made up from dots of different sizes. They may be shades of reds and oranges or greens and blues. In the middle of these is a number in dots of opposing colors. This means that red/orange dot has green and blue numbers in the middle. A normal eye is able to read the number in the center of the circle, whereas a colorblind person will not be able to, as they can’t make out the distinction in color. Here is an example of what these tests look like:
(Image via Colorvisiontesting.com)
Everyday Impacts of Color Blindness
Being color blind doesn’t mean a person has necessarily poor vision, though it can certainly cause some difficulties. For example, simply getting dressed in the morning can be a unique experience. For someone who is unable to see certain colors, it can be nearly impossible to make an outfit match without a bit of luck. When grocery shopping or cooking, without labels a person with color blindness may have trouble differentiating the difference between sauces that otherwise look alike, except for their color. An example is ketchup and mustard. It can also be difficult to tell if a piece of meat is cooked thoroughly, as this is often indicated by color. The same goes for picking fresh fruits and veggies—see, color is so helpful! More serious issues caused by color blindness include difficulty reading a red, yellow, and green light when driving or noticing that a child is getting sunburnt.
Celebrities With Color Blindness
There are many famous folks who suffer from color blindness, too. Politicians Bill Clinton and Bob Dole both have forms of it. Christopher Nolan, the famous director behind “Batman,” also is color blind. Hunky, blue-eyed actor Eddie Redmayne is only able to see the color blue. Howie Mandel and lovable Mr. Rogers are other celebrities with color blindness.