5 unique facts about colour blindness

You may not know everything about your body but you can gradually gain some basic knowledge about how certain parts of your body work, like your eyes for instance.

Below are five unique facts about colour blindness – a problem that affects the vision.

People do not see the same colour

To the question: What colour is a spinach leaf? Your answer must be green. However, what is the colour green like?

You and your friend, for example, do not see the same green. You can see the colour of an object because light rays fall on that object, then reflect off the object, pass through your lens and cornea to focus at one point on the retina.

The colour of light is defined by its wavelength. This means green has a wavelength you recognise as green. A spinach leaf is green because its surface reflects green wavelengths and absorbs all other wavelengths.

Each person sees the colour of an object in a different way. This is because our eyes and brain work together to notice different shades of light. However, the difference is usually only slight.

The causes of colour blindness

Colour blindness can be caused by the absence or improper function of cone cells. This may be because of defects in specific genes needed for the formation of these cells. Cone cells help you detect the colours.

There are three types of cone cells that determine three main colours: green, red, and blue. If you have colour blindness, you may not have one, two or all three types of this cell.

Sometimes, colour blindness can be the result of a physical or chemical damage to the eye, nerve, or brain that can affect colour information.

As you age, cataracts may appear and the lenses may become yellow. This too can lead to colour blindness.

Colour blindness is more common in men than women

Studies have shown that more men are colour blind compared to women. This is because the genes responsible for this condition are located in the X chromosome.

Men have only one X chromosome while women have two X chromosomes. In women, once one X chromosome is affected, the other can compensate.

Red-green colour blindness is a combination of conditions

Red-green colour blindness is the most common type. It occurs when you lack green cone and red cone photopigments. Red-green colour blindness is a combination of red colour blindness and green colour blindness.

Special lenses can help people with colour blindness

Colour blindness can be present at birth, appear in childhood, or start when you are an adult.

Although it can be annoying when you experience difficulty reading, learning, or driving, colour blindness is not a serious condition.

Although it cannot be cured, you can live a normal life despite being colour blind.

There are ways to help you cope with this condition. You can ask your doctor about lenses specifically designed for people with colour blindness.

These lenses help you see more colours and are suitable outdoor use. There are also smartphone apps that help you recognise the various colours of objects.

This article first appeared in hellodoktor.com and was reviewed by Dr Duyen Le. The Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.