C.R. Williams
23rd May

Life in Colour

For those that have normal colour vision, ‘colour blindness’ is often misunderstood.

It is best to think of it as a colour vision deficiency, a decreased ability to see or differentiate varying colours. It is a problem usually linked to the X chromosome which explains the high prevalence in males.

Nerve endings in the eye called rods and cones help us see in various different light levels, the cones are subdivided in to three different types that pick up different parts of the visible colour spectrum. The inherited weakness causes the cones to be less sensitive or even non functioning.

In rare occasions none of the cones work and we are left with monochromacy; this is an inability to distinguish any colour variations.

More commonly the problem is a deficiency of function; an ability to see colours but fewer shade variations. Usually sensitivity to one of the three primary colours is affected.

Colour vision testing is very simple and recommended to be done an all children, especially boys, as some counselling may be needed about what impact a weakness could have on some future profession choices. Away from these specific areas; colour weaknesses rarely impact daily life and some people are blissfully unaware of any problem.

A greater concern is if colour vision changes later in life as this could indicate an eye condition or general health issue developing and should be investigated promptly; the advice would be have your eyes tested straight away rather than waiting for your routine check to come round.

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