Photoreceptors in the retina, called cones, enable us to see colors. Pigments inside the cones absorb light and send this information to the brain, which interprets it as color. When cones lack pigments people cannot see all colors.
They still see color, but have difficulty differentiating shades, particularly red-green. They may see green colors as less vibrant, but typically see all the other colors normally. Blue-yellow deficiency is rarer and generally more severe.
With complete color blindness everything appears black and white or shades of gray. This is extremely rare.
Color blindness is a genetic condition passed on from the mother mostly to boys. About 8% of boys, and 0.5% of girls, are born with some degree of color vision deficiency. The severity generally remains the same throughout life and does not lead to additional vision loss or blindness.
Color vision deficiency can also be caused by injury or certain medical conditions. This usually affects only one eye, whereas the inherited condition affects both eyes.
Currently, there is no treatment for color vision deficiency, although colored filters may enhance some colors. Being color blind is not considered a disability; most people learn to distinguish colors according to degree of brightness.
Color vision deficiency may exclude people from occupations including doctor, firefighter, pilot, electrician or joining the military.
If you suspect you may have a color vision deficiency, call Vista Eye Care at 520-625-5673 for a complete eye exam and color vision test.