Color Vision and Color Blindness

Color Vision and Color Blindness

Ever wondered how we see color? Or why some people can’t see color? Read more to find out.

Have you ever wondered how humans see color? Or why colors look different from one another? And why is it that some people can’t differentiate between colors? The human brain and eyes work together to turn light into different colors. When white light hits various objects, these objects either absorb or reflect specific amounts of that light, and the “color” is reflected back to us in wavelengths. An object appears white when it reflects all the wavelengths and black when all are absorbed. The three primary colors—red, green, and blue—are reflected in varying amounts among all objects to see what the brain reads as “color.”

The retina has two types of cells that detect light: rods and cones. These cells work together to process color wavelengths and send it to the brain via the optic nerve. There are three types of cone cells, one for each primary color. When one or more of these cone cells are absent, not working or malfunctioning, it causes what’s known as color blindness. Severe color blindness occurs when all three types of cone cells are absent, and mild color blindness when all three are present but one or more is malfunctioning.

Color blindness, like colors themselves, occurs across a spectrum. Like we said above, severe color blind individuals cannot see any colors at all and often have other vision issues like nearsightedness. Some people with mild color blindness can differentiate between colors in bright light but not dim, and others cannot see certain colors in any light. Some people simply can’t tell the difference between shades of certain colors. This disorder affects both eyes equally and remains stable throughout life.

Most people who are color blind are born with the condition, though trauma and disease can cause it later in life through damage to the optic nerve. Men are at a much higher risk for the condition, with one in ten men having issues with seeing colors. If you think that you or your child may be color blind, an ophthalmologist can conduct a simple test consisting of colored dots. Unfortunately there is no treatment for color blindness, but there are special lenses that can help, though most color blind individuals don’t experience any significant disability.

If you or your family member need to be tested for color blindness, or if you need to make an appointment with Sterling Vision for any reason, call 866-439-3588. You can also make an appointment online.