As you’d expect, a tendency towards colour blindness is all down to our genes. Men are found to be colour blind more often than women and this is because they have an X and a Y chromosome. A man can inherit an X chromosome from his mother which passes on colour blindness.
Complete colour blindness (where the viewer is unable to see any colour at all) is actually quite uncommon, as is blue/yellow colour blindness.
The Problems Caused By Being Colour Blind
So does being Colour Blindness cause problems? What happens for example, when a colour blind man is confronted with traffic lights. How can he differentiate between the red and the green lights. Actually, it’s not so difficult, because it is easy to see when a light is illuminated, even if you can’t actually tell which colour it is.
It’s possibly more of a problem when you’re trying to match the colours of clothes together. How do you avoid putting a scarlet pair of trousers together with a clashing orange shirt? Putting a garish tie on at a sombre occasion? Again, people who have difficulty discriminating between colours will probably have to label their clothes inside on the label – or ask a trusted friend for advice.
Some people see numbers and letters as colours, a condition known as ‘synesthesia’. For example, you might always see the number ten as a red colour, the number two as a brown colour. Or perhaps you see different letters of the alphabet in a rainbow of colours.
What Causes Colour Blindness?
On your retina at the back of your eye, you have cells known as ‘cones’. Each cone can decipher colours and combinations of colours. So to see colours correctly, you need all of the red, blue and green cones necessary. If you don’t have these or they do not function, you will have trouble differentiating between different colours as your brain will not receive the correct messages from your eyes.
You might see a grassy lawn that you know should look green – but it might appear to you as grey.
How Colour Blindness Is Diagnosed
Special tests have been developed by opticians to ascertain the exact degree of colour blindness from which a patient suffers. Special colourful diagrams have been developed with a design or shade in the colour that is known to be problematic. Somebody with a colour issue won’t be able to pick out a pattern or shape.
So men suffer from colour blindness more often than women. But unless you are planning on a career like being an interior decorator, fashion design – or maybe a landscape gardener, colour blindness doesn’t need to be a serious issue