Imagine if you were colorblind and you were not able to see the colors around you the way most people do. Imagine if you could not distinguish violet, lavender and purple because they just look like different shades of blue, or if you confuse red with black or dark grey.
Color blindness is a condition that prevents people from seeing color the way everybody else does. Around eight percent of males and less than one percent of females are estimated to be colorblind.
How would this affect daily life? Think of driving and having to find a method to “read” traffic lights, or finding it hard to know if a fruit is ripe or not, or having to navigate this handicap if you want to be a fashion or interior designer, an artist, a policeman, or a pilot who has to maneuver a plane using complex cockpit instruments.
Visible light is a spectrum of color that most people can perceive. When light hits an object, it absorbs every color except for one that it reflects back, and that reflected color is what our eyes can see.
Colorblind people have defective retinas which hinder them from seeing certain shades in the color spectrum. One of the most common forms of color blindness is the red-green deficiency. It’s not a literal kind of “blindness” because colorblind people can still see these colors, but not in the way most people can. A common example would be seeing colors in faded shades.
Aside from the red-green color blindness, there is the blue-yellow color blindness, and the rare complete color blindness where people don’t see color at all.
There isn’t any cure for colorblindness, but technology has been able to help some people cope with this condition. A fairly recent invention is the EnChroma glasses, which use light filters to remove the shades between red and green. This way, colorblind people with the red-green deficiency can distinguish the two colors more clearly.
While the glasses only work for those with red-green deficiencies, it is certainly a big step towards helping people with color blindness.
The videos here show success stories with these glasses. You can see how amazed people become when they see these colors for the first time in their lives. It’s bewildering to them since color is not something you can describe with words alone. It helps them experience the world more perceptively, as they become conscious of these colors that they never knew existed.
We often tend to abuse our eyesight in our current, digital world, when we constantly glue our eyes to the screens of our phones.
The ability to see color is a gift that we often take for granted. I know I do. So from now on, I will remember to be grateful that the cones in my eyes are just fine, and try to fully experience the colors that I see all around me.