Most “Color Blind” People Can See Some Color

Most “Color Blind” People Can See Some Color

EyeQ: Myth or Science

Very few people with color vision deficiency—the technical term for color blindness—see only black and white or shades of gray. True color blindness is called achromatopsia and is relatively rare.

The most common form of color vision deficiency is red-green, a condition that generally makes it difficult to differentiate between the two colors. The blue-yellow condition is rare. Persons with blue-yellow deficiency frequently have red-green blindness, too. In both cases, it is common for people with color vision deficiency to see neutral or gray areas where most people see a particular color.

Color deficiency is usually an inherited condition, but there are other causes:

  • Damage to the optic nerve or retina
  • Diseases such as diabetes, glaucoma, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, chronic alcoholism, leukemia and sickle cell anemia
  • Certain medications used to treat heart problems, high blood pressure, infections, nervous disorders and psychological problems
  • Aging and exposure to some fertilizers and styrene

These facts and more related to color vision deficiency and other eye disorders can be found on the American Optometric Association website at www.aoa.org.