Colorblind is a term you’ve probably heard before, but it just might not mean exactly what you think it means.

What is Colorblindness?

Inside our retinas are specialized cell structures called rods and cones.  The cones are the structures responsible for our color vision. When someone is colorblind, their cones in the retina are not absorbing light properly. Normal vision absorbs light in short, medium, and long wavelengths, which translate to blue, green, and red wavelengths respectively.  The different lengths all work together to create a colorful image that includes all of the colors in between.

Types of Colorblindness


The most common type of colorblindness comes in the form of red-green.  This means that the cones that absorb red or green light aren’t working properly.  It doesn’t result in complete black and white vision, though.  Instead, it creates a field of vision of dull brownish-yellowish tones.


A less common version of colorblind is the blue-yellow type.  This type occurs when the blue cones aren’t working correctly.  Instead of the dull brownish-yellow landscape caused by the red-green type, the blue-yellow type causes the person to see in tones of teals, pinks, and browns.


Monochromacy is the version of colorblindness where black and white are the only colors seen.  This is a much more complex type of colorblindness and is far more rare than the others.  Possible reasons for this type of colorblindness could be because none of the cones in the retina work, only 1 cone of the three works, or there could possibly be an issue with the way the visual cortex is processing images.  Often, people who have monochromacy also suffer from other visual effects such as extreme sensitivity to light, poor central vision, and sometimes involuntary eye movements.

The Cause of Colorblindness

Colorblindness is genetic.  It’s a recessive gene you get from your mother’s X chromosome.  Males are much more likely to get it because females could have the normal dominant gene on the other X chromosome and still have normal vision.  Males, however, either have the recessive X gene and will be colorblind, or they will have a normal gene and not be colorblind.  Approximately 8% of all males are colorblind, while only 0.5% of females are.  Luckily, some forms of colorblindness can be treated.  Stop by and talk to Dr. Smith to find out if there is a way to treat your colorblindness.  We would love to help you get more color in your life!  435.359.2020

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