What is color blindness and what causes it?

January 29, 2016

Color blind test graphic - number 7

What is color blindness and what causes it?

Answer: Color blindness probably isn’t what you think it is. People who are colorblind can see colors and usually label colors properly. They run into problems, however, because they can’t see the difference between certain colors. To people with the most common form of color blindness, for example, reds and green may look the same.

Most color blindness is inherited. It is much more common in men, with about eight percent having this condition. Inherited color blindness can make it difficult for children to learn lessons that depend on color recognition. It can also be a disadvantage in performing certain jobs that require good color vision.

Color blindness is caused by an abnormality in one of the three cones that are in the back of the eye. There is no cure for this condition. It’s important for children, especially boys, to be tested for color blindness. This can be done during an eye examination. When diagnosed, the optometrist can make recommendations that help a colorblind person adapt to their situation.

SchwartzStevenDr. Steven Schwartz
Professor, Department of Biological and Vision Sciences
SUNY College of Optometry