Color Blindness: What is it?
Symptoms You May Experience:
Examination: What Your Eye Doctor Will Look For:
What You Can Do:
When To Call Your  M.D.:
Prognosis:  Will I See Better?
The cone cells of the retina are responsible for allowing us to see color.  Each cone contains a specific pigment-either red, green, or blue.  Color blindness occurs when one of those color pigments is missing or defective.  The deficiency may be partial (affecting only some shades of a color) or complete (affecting all shades of the color).  Color blindness sometimes occurs after a person is born.  Some other diseases that can lead to color blindness include retinis pigmentosa, optic neuropathy, Alzheimer's, diabetes, glaucoma, leukemia, liver disease, alcoholism, age related macular degeneration, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's, and sickle cell anemia.  Injuries or strokes that damage the retina, optic nerve, or particular areas of the brain can also lead to color blindness.  Some medications, such as certain antibiotics, barbituates, anit-tuberculosis drugs, high blood pressure meds, and several medications used to treat autoimmune and psychiatric problems, can cause color vision changes as well.
Certain colors may appear gray, or two colors that appear different to normal people may appear similar to a person with color blindness.  People who are born with color vision problems may not notice the difficulty that they have in distinguishing certain colors when they are young.
The eye doctor will perform a color vision test, of which several types are available.  Some color tests ask you to distinguish a colored figure or number from a background, while other tests involve identifying and grouping similar colors together.  All color test are designed to identify the type of colorblindess, if it is present.
There is no known prevention for colorblindness.  Because the disease is often inherited, tell your eye doctor if it is present in your family.
If you notice difficulty telling colors apart, call your eye doctor.  A new color vision problem that was not present at birth may be a sign of another disease or a problem with medication.  Also, parents should be alert to symptoms of colorblindness in their children.
Unfortunately, most inherited color blindness cannot be cured.  Most people with color vision problems compensate well for their deficiency and rely on color cues and details that are not consciously evident to those with normal color vision.  Wearing glasses with tinted lenses can sometimes help those with achromatopsia who are sensitive to bright light.  Non-inherited color blindness that has a specific cause is treated by treating the underlying problem.
Inherited color blindness usually does not change over the course of a person's lifetime.  The prognosis for colorblindness that occurs after birth depends on the underlying problem.  For instance, if the colorblindness is due to a medication, stopping the medication under a physician's guidance can often make color vision return to normal.
Take The Ishihara Color Blindness Test
Colorblindness is a deficiency in the way colors are seen.  With this vision problem, a person has difficulty distinguishing between certain colors, such as red and green or blue and yellow.  Red-green color deficiency is by far the most common form of color blindness; less common is the blue-yellow deficiency.  It is extremely rare to not be able to distinguish any color at all-this disease is called achromatopsia and usually accompanies other serious eye problems.
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