Understanding Color Blindness

August 30th, 2021

At the rear of each of our eyes, in the retina, is a collection of specialized cells called rods and cones that play a key role in our vision. The rods, about 120 million of them and mostly along the outside of the retina, are our sensitive black and white vision receptors. The cones, numbering about six million and located in the macula, or middle of the retina, pick up light that our brains interpret as red, green and blue, elements of a spectrum of color. Problems with the retina’s cone cells can result in color blindness that’s genetic, a result of disease, or part of certain age-related conditions. It’s rare in men, and even more rare for women.

Our Eye Doctors See Through Their Patients’ Eyes

At ICON Eyecare, our eye care specialists in the Front Range have studied how patients experience their vision conditions. When they perform cataract and LASIK surgery in the Denver metro area, they measure and treat refractive problems, issues with focusing images on the retina. Addressing the retina itself, our ophthalmologists can help patients who were born colorblind, but also those who experience it as part of a progressive condition such as macular degeneration or retinitis pigmentosa. These conditions change the middle of the retina, which is how they affect color vision. Our eye doctors in the Front Range are experts at helping patients adapt to color vision challenges.

Traffic Lights Designed for Color Blindness

Modern traffic lights are designed for the color blind. In the US, red is either on the top or on the left, so drivers can read the lights by position. Also, each color is mixed, with added blue in the green light that helps red-green colorblind drivers, the most common, see a difference from the red.

Types of Color Blindness

The Ishihara “hidden digit” test helps doctors to understand a patient’s color blindness. In the test, fields of colored dots “hide” numbers to read or curved lines to trace, with different combinations of colors to test for different types of color blindness. There are seven diagnoses: four involving red-green perception, most common, two with blue-yellow, and one with no color perception at all, rarest.

Treatment for Color Blindness

Color blindness can affect a person’s work: for example, many colorblind people see red and green as a dim brown color, and electricians need to be able to tell red wires from green. For people with color blindness, as with many vision conditions, adaptation is an important part of treatment since there is no current cure. Filtered lenses and other adjustment techniques help patients adapt to being colorblind.

Eye Doctor Denver Who Understand and Treat Vision Challenges

Our team at ICON Eyecare in the Front Range are here to understand how you see the world and help you see more clearly. From cataract and LASIK surgery in the Denver metro area to diagnosis of less common eye conditions, our ophthalmologists in Denver are ready to help you.