Most of us see our world in color. We enjoy looking at a lush green lawn or a red rose in full bloom. If you have a color vision defect, you may see these colors differently than most people.
Color blindness occurs when you are unable to see colors in a normal way. It is also known as color deficiency. Color blindness often happens when someone cannot distinguish between certain colors. This usually happens between greens and reds, and occasionally blues.
In the retina, there are two types of cells that detect light. They are called rods and cones. Rods detect only light and dark and are very sensitive to low light levels. Cone cells detect color and are concentrated near the center of your vision. There are three types of cones that see color: red, green and blue. The brain uses input from these cone cells to determine our color perception.
Color blindness can happen when one or more of the color cone cells are absent, not working, or detect a different color than normal. Severe color blindness occurs when all three cone cells are absent. Mild color blindness happens when all three cone cells are present but one cone cell does not work right. It detects a different color than normal.
There are three main kinds of color vision defects. Red-green color vision defects are the most common. This type occurs in men more than in women. The other major types are blue-yellow color vision defects and a complete absence of color vision.
Most of the time, color blindness is genetic. There is no treatment, but most people adjust and the condition doesn’t limit their activities.
There are different degrees of color blindness. Some people with mild color deficiencies can see colors normally in good light but have difficulty in dim light. Others cannot distinguish certain colors in any light. The most severe form of color blindness, in which everything is seen in shades of gray, is uncommon. Color blindness usually affects both eyes equally and remains stable throughout life.
Color blindness is usually something that you have from birth but you can also get it later in life. Change in color vision can signify a more serious condition. Anyone who experiences a significant change in color perception should see an ophthalmologist.