Color blindness, or color vision deficiency, affects more men than women. As per statistics, one in a hundred women are color blind, while a staggering one in ten men are color blind. Women can carry the hereditary red-green color vision deficiency and pass it on to their sons without being color blind themselves. A man with red-green color blindness will not pass it on to his sons. These numbers explain why traffic lights are often stacked vertically instead of horizontally: Drivers, the majority of whom are men, sometimes cannot distinguish between red and green, but can remember the placement of the “go” light and the “stop” light. Though there is no known cure for color blindness, the following are tips on how to correct color blindness so it doesn’t impact your life negatively.
Wear tinted lenses or glasses for the color blind
Tinted contact lenses or glasses improve color vision by adding more colors for the wearer to perceive. However, they can only be worn on one eye to achieve the desired effect. Tinted contact lenses are more commonly used than tinted glasses because the glasses would look weird if only one lens was tinted. There are now models of eyeglasses whose lenses are both coated so that they look less strange.
The wearer shouldn’t expect miracles as some colors appear to shimmer or vibrate. Users who have been color blind from birth have to start getting used to seeing colors they’ve never seen before. They may need to learn colors that are new to them. Using these lenses or glasses is risky when driving because they impact the wearer’s depth perception, especially in dim light.
Use digital aids
There are a lot of computer-based tools designed to help the color blind. For example, the Daltap program can display the name of a color that you’re pointing at or flash at the location of the selected color on your screen. Visolve highlights specific colors – the colors that the user finds hard to identify – using colors that he or she can identify. The Visolve and eyePilot programs can manipulate the tint of a picture automatically, by increasing the contrast and saturation, for example, so that the color blind viewer doesn’t have to adjust.
There are also programs that show non-color blind people what the color-blind see, so that they are more empathetic, informed, and helpful. These programs include Color Oracle, ColorDoctor, Sim Daltonism, Coblis, and Vischeck.
Try color filters
There are alternatives or supplements to the methods mentioned above. One such tool is Seekey, which has two light filters, red and green respectively. It is small enough to be kept handy in the pocket for use as needed. To illustrate, the red filter will make the red color lighter and the green color darker so that a red-green color blind person can distinguish between them more easily. A study done in Sweden showed that the Seekey tool helps the color-blind reach an 86% improvement in the often-used Ishihara test for color deficiency.
In 2009, a study was done on two monkeys that had been color blind since birth. Since color blindness is caused by a missing gene called opsin that helps the eyes detect the color red, researchers injected the gene behind the retinas of the two monkeys. After twenty weeks, the monkeys were able to see in three colors instead of the two they could perceive since birth. They retained the ability for over a couple of years and there were no evident side effects. Researchers are currently working on the same treatment for humans. In the meantime, these tools on how to correct color blindness can help improve the quality of life of the color blind.