What Is Color Deficiency?
Color deficiency occurs when your ability to distinguish colors and shades is less than normal. The term "color blind" is often used, but usually incorrectly. Only a very small number of people are completely unable to identify any colors.
What Causes Color Deficiency?
Color deficiency is usually inherited, but can also result from certain diseases, trauma, or as a side effect of certain medications. It happens when the color-sensitive cone cells in the retina of your eye do not properly pick up or send to the brain correct color signals.
What Types of Color Deficiency Exist?
There are several. Red-green deficiency is by far the most common and results in the inability to distinguish between certain shades of red and green. In very rare cases, color deficiency exists to an extent that no colors can be detected. This person sees all things in shades of black, white, and grey.
How Is Color Deficiency Detected?
People who are color deficient are generally unaware of their condition. They assume that everyone sees things the way they do. As a result, a complete optometric examination, including a test for color vision, is recommended. The test for color deficiency is a relatively simple one typically involving the viewing of a series of colored designs. The designs have been created in such a way that a person with normal color vision can see certain figures in the designs. A color-deficient person will not be able to distinguish the figures.
When Should a Person Be Tested for Color Deficiency?
Every child should be checked for color deficiency by at least age five. It is important to detect color deficiency early because color-coded learning materials are used extensively in the primary grades. In addition, color deficiency may affect the career path of an individual, since the ability to distinguish colors is an important aspect of some jobs, such as pilots, electricians, some military personnel, police officers, and others.
Can Color Deficiency Be Cured?
Unfortunately, a cure for color deficiency has not yet been discovered. A person with color deficiency can, however, be taught to adapt to the inability to distinguish colors. For example, one can be taught to recognize the brightness and location of a traffic light rather than the color itself. It is also possible to increase the ability to distinguish colors with the use of special filters. A special red-tinted contact lens, used in one eye, and other devices, are used in some cases, to aid persons with certain color deficiencies.
This information provided by the American Optometric Association (AOA). To find out more, visit their website at www.aoa.org.