What Is Color Blindness? Everything You Should Know About Sight Deficiency

Color blindness is a deficiency where a person cannot see certain colors or struggles to distinguish between certain colors. Simple tests, such as this one, can help detect the condition.

Cone-shaped cells, located within the retina of our eyes, are responsible for perceiving various colors. The cones contain pigments for this purpose — so if a pigment is missing, our vision may not be able to detect certain colors strongly enough.

According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, color blindness is usually passed on from the mother to the son. But when the condition springs up later in life instead of being present from birth, it could be a result of a certain disease, trauma, toxic effects from a drug, metabolic disease, or vascular disease.

There are namely three types of color blindness based on which pigments are affected. The most common one is red-green color blindness while blue-yellow color blindness takes second place behind it.

The third type is total color blindness, characterized by a complete absence of color vision. This type is extremely rare and is referred to as achromatopsia.

Light is among the factors related to the severity of the condition. That is, a person may be able to see colors correctly under good lighting but could face problems if the lighting is a bit dim.

As of now, there is no available cure for color blindness. The deficiency can lead to complications ranging from mild to severe, especially if left undiagnosed. Colorblind people cannot perform certain jobs such as that of a pilot since they cannot distinguish between landing lights.

"We have a lot of kids who grow up not knowing they have a color vision deficiency. They are disproportionately labeled with learning disabilities," said Angel Perez of the University of Alabama in a 2015 interview with the Atlantic.

"There are places in Australia where they’re developing a new traffic light. Instead of just using colors, they’re having them done in shapes so people can drive without causing an accident," Perez noted at the time.

Other such tools have emerged since which can help improve sensitivity to colors. For example, a number of smartphone apps have been developed to help colorblind people by applying a filter over images.

EnChroma® glasses, sold by the company EnChroma Labs, are also said to provide a color boost and help the wearer distinguish between colors more easily. However, researchers from the University of Granada, Spain, also questioned how effective the glasses are after a recent study with 200 colorblind volunteers did not yield satisfying results.