Living With Color Blindness

For people who are colorblind, many areas of everyday life can be affected. Common tasks that people with normal color vision take for granted can be daunting or even impossible for those who are colorblind.

Safety

Red and green can both look like gray, so color-coding for safety is often lost on those who are colorblind. Safety implications are numerous and can sometimes risk personal health:

  • Noticing a fire hydrant
  • Checking time left on a parking meter
  • Rewiring a light switch
  • Checking swimming pool pH
  • Properly cooking meat
  • Noticing a car’s engine/check oil light
  • Identifying fresh vs rotten fruit
  • Detecting sunburn or rash on self, partner, or children

Education and career, from childhood to adulthood

People with color blindness may encounter frustration in school and at work, especially before color blindness has been diagnosed.

Children may not be forthcoming about their experience out of fear of judgment or what it implies. These common scenarios may be very difficult for children who are colorblind:

  • Noticing teacher’s grading marks on schoolwork when done in red pen
  • Reading elevation maps
  • Playing board games that require color matching like Candy Land and TWISTER
  • Playing video games that do not have a colorblind mode
  • Building with LEGO®toys

Even with age and after diagnosis, color blindness can greatly affect adults and influence major life choices, especially professional choices. Colorblind adults may be prohibited from or having difficulty in the following careers:

  • Airplane pilot
  • Graphic designer
  • Military engineer
  • Computer developer
  • Pharmacist

Colorblind adults may also struggle while surfing the Internet
and helping children with puzzles, games, and homework.

Everyday life

Consider the special moments in life that people with color blindness may miss:

  • Sunsets
  • Rainbows
  • Changing seasons

Suggestions for living with color vision deficiency:

  • Make sure you see your eye care practitioner if you or your child have difficulty distinguishing colors
  • Early diagnosis of color vision deficiency by a qualified health care practitioner may help prevent problems in grade school. Many learning materials rely on color perception. If your child has a color vision deficiency, alert his or her teachers about it.
  • If you think your child may be colorblind, see your primary care physician or optometrist, depending on your health care plan.

Is there a cure?

There is no cure for inherited color blindness. Special color filters or contact lenses or glasses can enable the passage of certain color vision tests by adjusting the wavelengths of light hitting the retina and changing the brightness of certain colors, helping the color-blind to differentiate colors in a way they haven't experienced before, but the wearer will not be able to experience new colors. However, Avalanche Biotechnologies is committed to the clinical research of color blindness and hopes to one day develop a therapy for color vision deficiency that develops a new sensation for people who are color-blind and enables them to experience new colors.

Join the Avalanche Patient Registry to receive more information regarding potential research study opportunities or therapies for color blindness that become available.

Bob, Executive Coach, Colorado

Time of diagnosis: “I was in high school and my teacher passed out the Ishihara Test. She asked if everyone could see the numbers on the plates, and we were told to raise our hands if we didn’t see anything. I didn’t raise my hand, but I went up to talk to the teacher after class.

Everyday life: “If you're working in the yard or doing a planting or you're dealing with food, all of those kinds of things are impacted. For example, if I'm grilling, I am not going to be able to see if the chicken is finished or if the filet is completely cooked clear through. I lived in a pink house for about four years until my wife told me, "Don't you think it would be really important to paint this house? Because it's pretty ugly.”

Bob’s tips for others living with color blindness: “As a parent, I learned to be really cautious and slathered my children with sunscreen. I have learned to differentiate in other ways, like the hot side of a battery is positive. I also ask the sales clerk for help with shopping for my clothes—it helps to be outgoing if you are colorblind.”