When fall hits, the blow of the end of summer is softened by the beauty of the landscape being painted in gold, green and red. Unfortunately, not everyone has the privilege of being able to appreciate this change in scenery. 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women in America have a colour vision deficiency. The most common type is the inherited red-green colour blindness resulting in an inability to differentiate between red, green and their varying hues.
Inherited colour deficiency is the result of a dysfunction of the photopigments in the cones in the retina at the back of the eye responsible for absorbing different wavelengths of light and transmitting this information to the brain for you to process and appreciate colour. The colourblind don’t necessarily see only in black and white but by not being able to perceive different colour tones, the vibrant red, green and gold hues of fall may appear more as dull shades of grey or brown.
Colour vision is tested early on at eye examinations with your optometrist. An inherited red-green colour vision deficiency is congenital and does not change throughout life. Acquired colour vision deficiencies can occur secondary to trauma or certain medications, and are most often blue-yellow colour vision deficiencies. Certain careers such as pilot, electrician, firefighter and police officer require good colour recognition and so colour blindness can limit career
Some glasses have been developed that filter wavelengths in a specific way to allow the colourblind to see in colour. The effect of these glasses depends on the type and severity of the colour vision deficiency.
Next time you head outside, don’t forget to soak in the beauty of the changing season!