Color Deficiency

The diagnosis of color deficiency refers to the reduced ability to distinguish colors and/or shades. The term “color blind” is often used, but generally incorrect because only a very small number of people are completely unable to identify colors. One out of 12 men and only one out of 200 women are found to be color deficient.

Color deficiency has a predictable gene pattern. Females are the genetic carriers of the color deficient gene. They received the gene from their color deficient father, but they are largely unaffected. The females then pass the genes along to their sons. The sons are then color deficient and they in turn pass this gene to their daughters, starting the progression all over again.

The normal eye has thousands of color receptors called cones. These microscopic receptors send color information to the brain. In a color deficient eye, some cones do not pick up and transmit the correct color signals. As a result, the ability to distinguish colors is diminished.

There are several types of color deficiencies, but red/green deficiency is by far the most common. Persons who are color deficient are usually unaware of their condition. It is important to detect this early, because many learning materials in the primary grades are color coded. Color deficiency may also affect one’s career path since the ability to distinguish colors is important in some careers such as pilots, electricians, decorators, artists, etc.

Unfortunately, a cure for color deficiency has not yet been discovered. In some cases a special red contact lens worn in one eye can aid a person with color deficiencies. A person with color deficiency can be taught to adapt to their condition. We do a color deficiency test as part of each of our eye examinations. Speak with one of our doctors for more information.