Have you ever tried to pair a purple tie with a navy suit while thinking they match perfectly? These wardrobe mishaps are sometimes the result of what most of us refer to as color vision deficiency or “color blindness.” Color blindness occurs when the eye is unable to distinguish between certain colors. In the retina, rod cells detect light and dark while cone cells detect color. 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 is a genetic glitch that happens – more commonly in males – when one or more of the color-sensing cells in the retina are absent, nonfunctioning, or detect a different color than normal.
There are varying degrees of color blindness. Some people with mild color deficiencies only 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.
While color blindness is usually present from birth, it can be acquired later in life. Sudden change in color vision can be a sign of a more serious condition. If mild color blindness is all that ails you, by all means, take a friend when you go clothes shopping. However, if you experience a significant change in color perception, make an appointment to see your ilumin ophthalmologist right away.