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In the United States, over 10.5 million people have been diagnosed with color blindness, according to Although color blindness is not detrimental to our health, it is an eyesight condition, so it’s important to be knowledgeable about it, especially because a large percentage of people don’t know they have it.

To fully understand color blindness, we must start with the basics.

What is color blindness?

Color blindness, also known as color vision deficiency, is when you are unable to see colors in a normal way including not being able to see certain shades and brightness levels. The most common form of color blindness is the inability to distinguish between reds and greens. Although not as prevalent, many people suffer from not being able to correctly see shades of blue and yellow as well.

Inside of our retinas are cones that are responsible for detecting color and affect how our brains perceive colors. Color blindness occurs when these cones are absent or are not working accurately. The type of color blindness that you have depends on which type of cone(s) is the problem.

Three types of color blindness

The three major types of color blindness are:

Protan Color Blindness: This type of color blindness occurs when there are no red cones present, or they are not working correctly. The result is that red is perceived as black and orange and green shades may appear as yellow.

Deutan Color Blindness: This type of color blindness is caused by the green cones not detecting certain shades of green and are sensitive to yellows, oranges and reds. The result is that these colors may appear similar to each other, especially when the lightning is bad. Deutan color blindness is the most common form of the condition.

Tristan Color Blindness: This is the most rare form of color blindness and involves reduced sensitivity to certain shades of blue. As a result, differentiating between shades of blue and green and dark blue and black can be difficult.

What causes color blindness?

Many people believe that color blindness is something that you are born with, and even though they are right, there are other ways to contract the condition.

Genetics: It’s true. Color blindness is something that you can be born with as a result of unluckily genetics. In most cases, the gene is passed down from mother to son.

Age: Okay, so you might not have been born with color blindness, but you can age into it. Over time, as the quality of our vision deteriorates, so does our color perception.

Disease: Unfortunately, some diseases and health conditions can have a negative effect on your eyes, such as damaging the nerves and the retinas. For example, high blood pressure can cause hypertension retinopathy. In some cases, ophthalmologists can detect high blood pressure before you do.

Drugs and Chemicals: Prescription drugs for the treatment of heart conditions, nervous disorders, high blood pressure and various infections can have side effects that lead to color blindness or loss of vision. Similarly, if exposed to certain harmful chemicals, your ability to see color, or see in general, can be hinder.

Trauma: If your retinas or optic nerves are dealt a direct blow, there is a good chance that your ability to see colors will be diminished or changed.

Cures and Treatments

To date, no cures for color blindness have been discovered, but steps in the right direction have been taken by scientists around the world. Although color blindness is not a life-threatening condition, it is still important to get the condition diagnosed.

If you believe that you are suffering from a loss in color vision, make an appointment with Dr. Bertrand Anz, our ophthalmologist, to get answers. He will administer the Ishihara Plate test, which is a sophisticated test to detect color perception deficiencies.

Even if you do not think you are color blind, make a routine eye exam appointment with Dr. Anz anyway. He may detect conditions that you did not know you had, like high blood pressure, that can lead to a loss of color vision.

Eye exams should be a part of your yearly health routine for several reasons. Optometrists and ophthalmologists are able to track your eyes’ overall health and vision more accurately when they see you frequently. Scheduling a routine eye exam is a perfect opportunity to make sure your prescriptions are up-to-date and are the appropriate strength as well. Not to mention, who doesn’t like going into the office and getting to try on all the fun and quirky glasses frames? If you just thought to yourself, “me,” then laser eye surgery might be something you should look into.

No matter your reasoning, Dr. Anz is more than happy to help.

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