Color Blindness is the umbrella term for a condition that can also be identified by a range of alternate names, depending on which colors are out of the scope of the individual suffering from the problem. Deuteranopia, for instance, is a severe color blindness towards green, and these individuals struggle to see all colors within this scope, including reds, oranges and even browns. Those struggling with protanopia, on the other hand, struggle with a severe form of red color blindness, and so this specific color, in all its ranges, appears extremely dull. There are many different types of color blindness that range from mild to severe, and so this problem can affect people in a variety of different ways, depending on the specifics of their condition.
What is Color Blindness?
Color blindness is a condition whereby an individual either has difficulty in distinguishing between certain colors, or cannot see color altogether. Those who only see in shades of black, grey and white suffer from monochromatism, although this is a very rare condition. Most people tend to have color blindness relating to red or green, while blue color blindness is a rarer condition.
While many people have some form of this condition, it doesn’t always have a big impact on their lives; some might not even be aware that they have it. According to statistics, Caucasians are said to be at a higher risk of developing this condition, while it is rare among other demographics. This condition is divided into two types: inherited and acquired, although most are genetically inherited, and so are present from the time the person is born.
The Causes of Color Blindness
The eyeball usually contains three cone cells, and each of these detects the colors red, blue or green. When the eye detects the specific colored light that it is in tune with, it sends a signal to the brain, which then allows us to see the hue. These cone cells are most commonly found within the part of the eyes called the Macula, which is located within the retina.
When someone is born without one or more of these cone cells, or in the event that they do not function in the way that they should, the individual will be unable to distinguish between one or more of these colors, and so they are born color blind.
Other causes of this condition, which are acquired over time, include: injuries to the eyeballs, eye conditions such as cataracts, glaucoma or diabetic retinopathy, ageing and side effects that are associated with certain medications.
The Symptoms of Color Blindness
There are a variety of symptoms associated with color blindness, depending on the severity of the condition, but the most common manifestations include:
The inability to see certain colors. While some people might be able to see yellow, for instance, they might not be able to distinguish between blue and green. This type of problem is usually associated with problems with one of the cone cells located within the retina; if it is non-existent or damaged, it will not be able to pick up on a specific color. Some people become aware that they are having difficulty in distinguishing certain colors from others, but this is not always the case. In certain instances, people can go their entire lives without realizing that they are color blind. It is often children that struggle the most because of this problem, without ever realizing it, since it can affect the quality of their schoolwork. When these issues are diagnosed early, parents can prevent the problem from unduly affecting the child throughout his or her school years.
The Inability to See a Wide Spectrum of Colors
There are certain people who simply do not realize that they are unable to see the wide spectrum of colors that others do, and if they do not undergo testing for this condition, they might go their entire lives without realizing this.
In very rare cases, the inability to see any color at all; the individual’s sight is limited to shades of grey, white and black.
The symptoms of this condition range from mild to severe, although the more severe cases are rather rare. In most instances, it is only one or two colors that are outside of the scope of someone’s vision, but there are other cases that have been reported where people could not see color at all.
Diagnosing Color Blindness
In order for someone to be diagnosed with this condition, they will first have to notice that they are experiencing a problem, and in some cases, this doesn’t happen. Some people will only realize that a problem exists when someone else points it out. Often, this condition is identified when someone applies for a job where the position requires a color-blindness test, such as electrical engineering, and this is also one of the few times when the condition will drastically effect the life of the adult suffering from it.
In order to test for this condition, the practitioner needs to start the testing phase during the day, because the eyes require light in order to register colors. Colored cards are one of the more simple methods of testing for this condition, although in some cases, an anomaloscope is used, which alternates red and green colored lights until the patient is asked to indicate when the light turns yellow. Once the light has turned yellow, according to the patient, he or she will then indicate this to the professional who will determine the extent of the condition by the choices of the patient, with regards to the color range within the mixture.
Another type of test that is administered to diagnose this condition involved sets of colored dots, whereby the patient will then need to identify patterns. Patients suffering from color blindness will often not be able to recognize these patterns. It is also common for practitioners to ask patients to arrange items of similar colors; those with this condition are usually unable to perform this task correctly.
Once the problem has been diagnosed, the medical professional will then need to determine what caused the condition, and identify whether it was something that the patient was born with, or acquired over time. If the symptoms arose due to a medical condition, such as diabetes, this illness needs to be diagnosed before treatment can be administered.
Complications Associated With Color Blindness
This condition might end up affecting people in a variety of ways, depending on their age, as well as their career choices. Children, for instance, may struggle with their self esteem or their schoolwork because of this issue. Adults, on the other hand, might not be able to go into the field of their choice, such as electrical engineering, because color differentiating is an important facet of the job. In some cases, positions such as cooks, designers and even painters might find it difficult to do their job if they are unable to distinguish between colors.
Treating Color Blindness
When the patient has inherited this condition, it cannot be treated. In the event that the condition has been acquired, on the other hand, there are certain measures that can be taken to rectify the problem that is causing the symptoms associated with color blindness. The types of treatments that will be used to rectify this issue will depend on its cause; for instance, is someone has difficulty in distinguishing between colors because of cataracts, surgery to remove this issue might help to restore the person’s vision. In these instances, a doctor, not an optometrist, will usually help to treat the underlying cause.
In the event that someone is struggling with color blindness due to an acquired condition, there are a number of other procedures that can be used to correct the issue, including; colored contact lenses, glasses that prevent glare from affecting vision, or being taught to identify certain cues that will indicate a color, such as location or brightness. While these treatments might not resolve the problem altogether, they could assist in providing the patient with some relief. Colored contact lenses, for instance, do not provide patients with a precise image of the specific color, and they tend to distort images slightly, but they have proven to be very useful in situations where someone needs to identify between certain hues. In cases where the problem itself cannot be treated, people can be trained to look out for certain cues, such as the position of the lights on a traffic light, in order to determine which colors are being reflected by the object.
Since this problem usually affects children more severely than adults, parents might want to take certain measures to assist them as much as possible, to prevent this issue from affecting their schoolwork. Informing teachers of this problem, as well as helping the child to identify colors by labeling pencils, for instance, can go a long way in ensuring that everything is done to prevent the child from feeling discriminated against because of their condition.
In instances where children are struggling because of this condition, parents can assist them by explaining which objects are usually of a specific color. For instance, if a child is told that a lemon is usually yellow, they will remember this without having to actually see the color.
Changes that are made to the classroom can also go a long way in helping children who are struggling with this problem. Chalkboards often present the biggest difficulties for children, since glare from the sun might makes it difficult for them to distinguish between chalks of a different color. If teachers are aware of the problem, they can take measures such as repositioning the board, or placing the child in another area of the room to prevent them from catching this glare. These measures might be small, but they tend to make a significant difference when it comes to improving the child’s experiences at home or at school.
The Prognosis For Acquired And Genetically Inherited Color Blindness
If color blindness is diagnosed when the patient is still a child, there is no known treatment for this problem, which means that the condition is chronic and will probably last a lifetime. While many people do not even realize that they are struggling with this problem, it can have a detrimental effect on others, especially children. Children who struggle with this condition might experience difficulties with certain aspects of their schoolwork, or it could end up affecting their self esteem.
A child who is playing a game of kick ball, for instance, will not be able to tell where the boundary lines are, and so they might constantly be reprimanded by their peers because of this. In other instances, a child might be asked to color a picture using certain hues; when they are unable to do so because of their inability to distinguish between the colors, they might be reprimanded without realizing why. In these cases, children often become hesitant about their abilities, which affects their self esteem, and teachers often give them poor grades on these types of assignments.
It is important for parents to get their children tested for this problem, usually during the same time as their routine checkups at the age of four, so that it can be diagnosed before they start their schooling years.
Those who are struggling with an acquired type of this condition might be able to seek certain treatments that will lessen its severity, or cure the problem altogether. In these cases, the prognosis will depend on the cause of the problem, and whether there are available treatments to assist in correcting the initial cause.
Contacting a Medical Professional
Tests aimed at diagnosing color blindness are usually conducted during annual screenings, which means that people do not need to book especially for this test as long as they keep up with annual screenings. If you are worried that you might be suffering from this problem, or you would like to have your child tested, you can book a consultation with an optometrist for a test.
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