Answered by Dr. Terrace L. Waggoner
Question from Andy: One of my greatest frustrations has been that my color blindness prevented me from passing the flight physical for a private pilot license. I used to fly gliders in Europe. They didn’t care about my color vision because gliders rarely fly in darkness. I recently came across a web site where they claim that corrective lenses will allow me to pass the Ishihara test (I failed the test on your site – Online Self Color Vision Test ). I inquired about it, and one of the local clinics who sells these lenses backed-up the company’s claim. One of the doctors assured me the lenses do work. The test and lenses are very expensive — about $1100.
They told me the lenses will indeed allow me to pass the Ishihara test, but they doubt that the FAA will allow me to wear the lenses in flight. Now I’m really confused. Any comments? Is this a viable product? If it is, then I’m willing to spend the money.
Question from Henrik: I’m from Denmark and have a small degree of colorblindness. I think it’s called deuteranope or something like that. I would like to know if there is anything that you can do about it to make it better or “repair” it????
I applied for the police academy here in Denmark and was turned down because of this. thank you very much for your help.
Question from LuAnn: ello, I have a son who is colorblind. A friend told me that glasses were developed in France that compensates for this. Have you heard of this?
Question from Chris: Protanopia and Deuteranopia – I have been diagnosed with the above visual abnormalities and I am currently a holder of a US Pilot’s License. As I have been diagnosed this affects my night flying ability. Is there any way this can be corrected using specific lenses either in glasses or contact lenses?
Answer: To my knowledge, congenital (you’re born with it) colorblindness is permanent and there is no cure or treatment. Tinted lenses, reportedly for colorblindness, have been recently introduced. The X-chrome Contact Lens (a red tinted monocular contact lens for colorblindness) has been on the market for decades. Yes, these lenses will help you pass some color vision tests, but so would looking through “any” red glass lens or piece of red tinted cellophane. It is unlikely that an examiner (e.g. Federal Aviation Administration) would let you use any of these devices to take their color vision test. Would these new lenses let you identify the red and green lights on an airplane at night or help you correctly identify different colored wires? I do not know. I have not read any credible scientific studies which validate these devices from a practical stand point. Personally, for me the jury is still out on the true benefits of these new devises.
You might find of interest what the Food & Drug Administration has to say about the ColorMax Lenses.
Quote: “The FDA has received a number of media inquiries about ColorMax eyeglass lenses, which are being promoted widely as a way to correct color blindness. Some of the claims in these promotions may be misleading.
The following can be used to answer questions:
ColorMax lenses, made by Color Vision Technologies, Inc., Tustin, Calif., were cleared for market by FDA in November. They are tinted prescription spectacle lenses intended as an optical aid for people with red-green color vision deficiencies. The lenses do not help wearers perceive or appreciate colors as people with normal color vision do, but merely add brightness/darkness differences to colors that are otherwise difficult or impossible to distinguish.
ColorMax lenses are designed to improve discrimination of specific colors that look the same to people with red green color deficiencies. However, discrimination of at least some other colors is actually impaired.
ColorMax lenses are not effective for people who are totally color blind. Very few people are truly color blind, and these lenses will not help them to see colors. Most people with color vision problems have partial color vision deficiencies that make it difficult to distinguish between red and green or between yellow and blue. FDA marketing clearance for ColorMax Lenses is limited to red-green color deficiencies, and does not include yellow-blue deficiencies or total color blindness.
ColorMax lenses are coated with colored filters using a technology similar to that used to apply anti-reflection coatings on spectacles and colored coatings on prescription sunglasses. The coating process is not new or “high-tech” as stated in some of the company’s promotional reports.
Although ColorMax lenses are the first such lenses to be cleared by FDA for commercial marketing in the United States, the idea is far from new. The use of colored filters as an optical aid for color deficiency has been reported in the scientific literature since the 1850’s,and at least two textbooks on color vision deficiencies contain entire chapters on the subject.
FDA is currently looking into the claims being made for this product.”
Question from Certified Engineering Technologist: Excellent site! I have just logged onto the internet, and have for years been looking for concrete information concerning colorblindness. I am a 43 year old white male who has some level of color deficiency, to what level, I don’t know. I have been in the electronics industry for eighteen years with absolutely no problem. It appears that people who are not color deficient seem to think that this should effect my employment capabilities. I think not and I have proven it many times.
My questions are: How many different types of color tests are available commercially that could conclusively determine my exact level of color deficiency? And should I think about changing employers and fail a colorblind exam as a pre-requisite to employment, do you know if my employer can deny me employment based on this “so called” physical disability?
They told me the lenses will indeed allow me to pass the Ishihara test, but they doubt that the FAA will allow me to wear the lenses in flight. Now I’m really confused. Any comments? Is this a viable product? If it is, then I’m willing to spend the money.
Answer: The 38 plate Ishihara Color Vision Test and the Pseudoisochromatic Plate Ishihara Compatible (PIPIC) Color Vision Test 24 Plate Edition are commercially available color vision tests for detecting, classifying, and estimating the degree of color vision deficiency. The PIPIC can test for all color vision deficiencies including tritan (blue) deficiencies. The Ishihara can only test for red/green deficiencies. Some Colleges of Optometry have an Anomaloscope (several thousands of dollars). It is the “most accurate means” of classifying and estimating the degree of color vision deficiency. The Anomaloscope can tell you if you are red weak or green weak and how severe the deficiency is – an anomalous trichromate or dichromate.
Applicants are routinely denied employment if they do not pass an employers required color vision test in many professions – airlines, train engineers, law enforcement, and in your line of work. Hopefully, that will change in the future.
Question from R.K.: Hello! My name is R.K. and I really appreciate your information on color blindness. I am one of those people who didn’t know they were color deficient until I took a test. 5 years ago I was hired as an ordinary seaman and had to obtain a Coast Guard endorsement. I could not pass the circle with multi colored dots test so I was given the yarn test which consisted of a shoebox full of little pieces of yarn and successfully picked out all the red and green yarn. My ordinary seaman’s card was issued. I tried the red contacts but they didn’t help
At this time I want to up-grade my license to Able Bodied Seaman but I am afraid to take another color test as regulations are getting stricter all the time and I feel it is possible I could lose my present license while trying to upgrade. This is my livelihood. I am 53 and have been on the water for 30 years, the first 25 on my own boats as a commercial fisherman and I never had a problem distinguishing between red, green and white lights which are the three used in all navigation aids. Do you know of any color blind tests that are more accurate for minor deficiencies? Or do you have any ideas or information that would help me in my dilemma?
After reading your excellent wed page I believe a “slight deuteranomaly” is my problem.
Answer: Thank you for your kind words about my website. The Farnsworth Lantern Color Vision Test is the Standard Color Vision Test for the Navy. It consists of white, red, and green lights. It is not as sensitive as the pseudoisochromatic plates (dots) and some mild deuteranomalous people can pass it. You may want to try this test “unofficially” to see if you can pass it. Most military bases with an eye clinic have one. Also, the Farnsworth Dichrotomus Test D-15 (made up of 15 different colored caps) is one of the easier tests to pass. Some agencies have quit using the D-15 because it was passing to many color deficient individuals (to many false negatives). Many agencies have also discontinued using the yarn test because the yarn had a tendency to fade and invalidated the test. The Ishihara, PIPIC 24 Plate Edition, Color Vision Testing Made Easy are very sensitive and the “hardest” tests to pass if you are even slightly color deficient. Thank you again and good luck
Question From James: My name is James and I am applying to be an officer in the US navy, I know that a colorblind test is administered, and I am worried that it may disqualify me. I have taken multiple tests and can distinguish some cards but not all. I know for the military they use the number cards ….is there any way to train for the test or to prepare for it your help would be greatly appreciated.
Answer: Hi James: You are not supposed to train for a color vision test. Its function is to determine if you have or do not have a color deficiency. You are right, if you are color deficient, you will not qualify for “some” positions in the Navy i.e. pilot, line officer, electrician, etc. You still qualify for others i.e. health care provider, lawyer, cryptographer, etc. and you can even get a waiver in some fields eg. flight surgeon etc.). Check with your recruiter. See if color deficiency is a disqualifier for the type of position you are applying. I hope this information is helpful, good luck.
Question From M.C.: I have been selected for appointment to the Indian Forest Service. But the medical board has found me unfit on account of defective colour vision.
According to the rules, “Low Grade ” colour vision is sufficient for the service. I would like to know how colour vision can be graded as low or high. I can correctly identify 28 out of 38 Ishihara plates. Under lower light intensity, I can identify a few more plates. Please give your comment on this. Also please let me know about the Edridge Green Lantern test and the colours in the lantern. The board has called me for a re-examination . Please advise me how to face it.
Answer: The majority (about 5% of the 8%) of color deficient individuals are deuteranomalous – mild “low grade” color deficient.
The PIPIC 24 Plate Edition and 38 plate Ishihara Color Vision Test have a plate at the end that estimates the type and severity of your defect. Also, the original “AO” H-R-R Pseudo-Isochromatic Plate Test (not the current Richmond HRR third edition – it has been found to give questional diagnoses), and the Anomaloscope (found at some Optometry Colleges) can quantify the type and severity of a color vision deficiency.
The discontinued “Edridge Green Lantern test” was replaced by the Farnsworth Lantern Color Vision Test. The Farnsworth Lantern uses three colored lights (red, green, and white). You are shown two lights at a time, one about the other, 9 times. The Farnsworth Lantern is not as sensitive of a test and some, not all, mild deuteranomalous individuals can pass it compared to the Ishihara. The Lantern was designed to salvage applicants who have “acceptable” color vision deficiencies for Naval Service. I hope this information is helpful and good luck.
Question From D.H.: Hello. I recently lost my dream job from being color blind working in train service for the railroad. I could only pass four of fourteen plates. Will there ever be a cure or something to wear that will correct this? What kind of colorblindness do I have based on the fourteen plates I was tested for on for my physical. I do see color especially red, blue, green, & yellow. Those are the colors the railroads use. It doesn’t seem fair to loose employment when you can see the colors that you will be using clearly. Is there anything I can do?
Question From Brandon: Just wanted to thank you for you great site and share my story with your readers with color problems who may be interested in law enforcement jobs.
I didn’t know that I was color blind until my air force physical, which I quickly blew off as a mistake. Later, while in Germany I was trying to get my military license and I ran into my first instance of ignorance related to color vision. When the clerk (not a trained or qualified person) gave me the tests I failed and he loudly announced that I had failed and that I couldn’t get my license because I was color blind.
That was in 1988 and ever since then my life has been ruled by color vision, which I don’t even see as a problem. Every employer seems to think that they must have color vision test and a prerequisite for employment but they or the doctors rarely do more than hold up the Farnsworth dichotomous D-15 test and check pass or fail without so much as a care in the world. Eye doctors are much better but you rarely have a choice as to who does your test.
I knew that I didn’t have a problem with color vision, as I can see colors fine. (this is hard to believe for those who think color blind is color blind or the absolute absence of color in vision). Therefore, I did not give up on my goal of becoming a police officer. I finished my military service and then went to college. After I graduated from college I put myself through the Michigan police academy (then called MLEOTC).
During my physical I failed the test and the doctor sent me to the malls eye glass store to be tested. When the clerk (another untrained person) held up the same test I passed. She had traced with a pen or pencil the numbers while demonstrating color vision so I passed. This confused my doctor but she signed off on it anyway, which is how I got into the academy.
After graduating in the top 10% of my class, I applied for a job with a local department and was hired. I worked the job before my physical and when I was given the notice to get my physical I knew I would be fired due to the test so I paid for my own physical in my hometown and went to a trained eye doctor to be tested. I knew I wasn’t color blind. He tested me and I then learned I was deficient (blue/green). He passed me. I will now only go to an eye doctor. I refuse to be tested by a clerk, nurse, or medical doctor.
Anyway, back to my point. There was a law suit by a cadet in Michigan who wasn’t as fortunate as me ( I don’t know the case cite). He sued a won, which is why Michigan has changed their standards. I wish there was a federal suit to change the standards nationwide because we are losing many well educated and qualified people due to a medical condition that millions suffer from. One that rarely affects life or job skills.
I have been an exceptional officer for seven years with two departments. I have never had a problem due to my condition and I have done and seen everything that one can imagine in police work. I am a highly trained and educated officer and I am currently working on my masters degree so that I can be an effective leader someday.
Color blindness and deficiency have been demonized in our society and it has become an embarrassing and stress causing factor in life that should not be so. It is the only medical problem that employers are apparently able to discriminate against one with. This has to stop and it will only do so when we do have a federal lawsuit.
For those of you who are hoping to be a police officer or anything else that requires “normal color vision” my advice is to fight. Do not give up no matter what. Try different doctors, ask for different test, and if you must-sue.
Thank you and feel free to give out my email address as I would love to hear from others who have suffered as I have over this matter.
Question From Simon: I’ve just read your site and I seem to be in a similar position as many other people. Like them I’m being turned away from my dream job because of these colour tests. I applied for a commission in the Royal Marines and after a year and a half of hard training and wanting nothing else I passed all the selection tests and was told I would probably get a place. They then did the medical and told me my colour perception was not good enough. I was gutted, I still am. Since then I’ve read about it all and been tested again. It’s like nobody understands what its like. I see colours like anybody else, I see red, I see green. Its only these tests that I fail. But the worst bit is that their seem to be no practical situations in which this “problem” is actually a problem. And so its like they are saying “Sorry you can’t join because you’ve got brown hair or because your birthday is in March”. I even asked the selection officer eactly what it was in the job that I couldn’t do and he couldn’t give me an answer. It doesn’t seem like a problem but more like discrimination. I’ve read in so many places that colour deficient people can carry out tasks in real life just as well as “normal” colour visioned people. So exactly what is the problem? I would love to know.
Answer: To answer your question, I am simply quoting from my website What is Colorblindness. I hope you find it helpful.
Many people think anyone labeled as “colorblind” only sees black and white – like watching a black and white movie or television. This is a big misconception and not true. It is extremely rare to be totally color blind (monochromasy – complete absence of any color sensation). There are many different types and degrees of colorblindness – more correctly called color deficiencies.
From a practical stand point though, many protanomalous and deuteranomalous people breeze through life with very little difficulty doing tasks that require normal color vision. Some may not even be aware that their color perception is in any way different from normal. The only problem they have is passing that “Blank Blank” color vision test.
****** Of the 8% of the male population, about 5% of them are protanomalous and deuteranomalous.
You are right, it is not fair. More research is needed to classify and quantify color deficiencies to set more “reasonable” guide-lines for job qualifications. One in twelve males are classified as color deficient and a large percentage are being treated unfairly. I personally know of many individuals classified as color deficient working in jobs that “required” normal color vision for 20 or more years that never had any problems performing said job. They were hired “before” color vision was an issue. I hope we see change in the future.
Statement from M.M.
I think the color blind tests for small children is a wonderful idea. As a child I grew up wanting to be a police officer. It wasn’t until I had entered the army and after completing college did I take my first color blindness test and realize I was color deficient. I never knew since I can see primary colors okay. I did realize my dream…but not with a large well paying department as I had hoped, had I known of the color blindness I might have spent four years and several thousands of dollars preparing for a career where color deficiency didn’t make a difference to those who did the hiring. What a difference a test at an early could have made.
Statement from Robert: I am a 31 yr. old color deficient airline pilot. I fly big jets for a large national airline. I am living proof that things like this only stop you if you let them. After college I already had all of my civilian licenses and a FAA medical and I ran into my first discrimination when I tried to join the air force to fly. They said that I didn’t meet their criteria for flying their airplanes. I fly one of the most complex glass cockpits in the world (the flight instruments are all multi colored CRT displays) and I have never had trouble distinguishing any color. As a matter of fact I had never had any trouble with color discrimination of any type. I think that in this day and age it is a disgrace that people are denied opportunities that they can clearly handle because of someone else’s discriminatory ideas. I want you to post this story because when the air force flight surgeon discovered my deficiency he told me I could probably do well in many other occupations. The flight surgeons’ attitude about what I could accomplish based on his 5 minute exposure to me really forged my determination. DON’T LET OTHER PEOPLE LIMIT YOUR OPTIONS. ONLY YOU CAN DO THIS. Good Luck to everyone.
Information for prospective pilots by Richard J. Hackman, O.D.,CDR MSC USN, CFI, CFII, MEI
Great Website with lots of useful information. I just have a few comments on the signal light test for prospective aviation pilots. In general, this is a very easy test to pass (though I have known of examiners who have administered the test incorrectly), but the caveat is that a candidate is only given two chances to pass it. It is truly a test of last resort.
A candidate should try one of the alternate color vision tests allowed by the FAA before attempting the signal light test. With the exception of the Farnsworth Lantern (FALANT), all the preferred and alternate color vision tests are pseudoisochromatic plates (PIPs) or variants of them. The FALANT is a vocational type of color vision test. Whereas the PIPs fail about 8 – 10% of the male population, the FALANT fails only 5 – 7%. The problem for the civilian airman is finding a facility that has a FALANT. Most civilians don’t own one as the current selling price is about $5000. With PIPs selling for under $300 its easy to figure out which test the Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) is going to purchase for his/her practice.
The most likely place to find a FALANT is at a military medical facility. The Optometry or Ophthalmology Departments usually have one, as does the Physical Exams Department. The question then arises, “Can a civilian be tested at a military medical facility?” The answer is “yes” as long as the Commanding Officer says its OK. When I was stationed at the U.S. Naval Academy, I had such an arrangement set-up. It was good public relations for the Academy and it really didn’t impact the mission as only one or two civilian airman candidates were tested each year.
I would highly recommend that if a candidate needs color vision testing beyond that given by the AME, the AME, not the pilot candidate, contact the nearest military medical facility and arrange for a FALANT test. The AME is in a better position than the pilot candidate is to make these arrangements, since the AME can talk doctor-to-doctor with the facility. The AME may need to talk to the Senior Medical Officer, or even the Commanding Officer, to make it happen, but it can happen. I find it hard to imagine that a military medical facility would not be willing to help out, especially since they’d be getting some positive PR out of it.
I do have the red/green deficiency and also have held an Airline Transport Pilots rating based on a waiver for color vision for over 20 years, a commercial for over 30 years and private pilot for 40+ years. I have logged thousands of hours of night, instrument and on occasion emergencies by light gun signals. Aspiring pilots should go to a small controlled field, talk to the controller and ask for assistance with light guns pointed at you on the ramp at night. Know what your white, green and red look like even if different than others.
Most controllers will gladly assist on a slow boring evening. The FAA office administering the waiver will ask chart color differential. Talk with someone and know what your magenta and other colors look like. A waiver should be easy with preparation. The handicap of color vision is something that can be overcome. My color vision is bad…some clothes combinations are….well, lets say not the best..Ha Ha!
I am also an avid photographer both underwater and land…takes a little work, software and asking opinions and assistance at times. Colorblind…if you have it…deal with it…it can be overcome in most cases.
Question From T.L. I am a 32 yr old women,and I was tested for color blindness when I was 5 yrs old.I have been told many times,that this is something only men have.It gets pretty frustraiting. I am color blind,and it is something I have learned to live with.But,it is not something anyone would say they were if they were not.It can be hard to shop,I have to take my daughter with me to help match things up.I would like it if you could send me any information you have on color blindness in women.
Answer: Thank you for your inquiry. The following is from my webpage – click here Explains Colorblindness and Why You Are Colorblind .
5% to 8% (depending on the study you quote) of the men and 0.5% of the women of the world are born colorblind. That’s as high as one out of twelve men and one out of two hundred women.
The commonest forms of congenital defective color vision, the red-green deficiencies, are due to “sex-linked X chromosomes” and “simple recessive hereditary traits”. Men are mainly affected because women have two X chromosomes and men have only one X and a Y chromosome. If a man’s one X chromosome is color defective, he will be color deficient, where as , a woman must inherit two color defective X chromosomes to be color deficient. For a woman to be color deficient, her father must be colorblind and her mother colorblind or be a carrier.
B.T. Are there any signs or symptoms that indicate my child may be color deficient?
Answer: If your child is color deficient, they may have a hard time telling the difference between red, green, brown, and gray; red and black may look the same; pink and purple may be confused with gray or blue ( the red drops out ); dull yellow, orange, and light green may look similar. Pastels and different shades get confused.
Now, what does this mean from a practical stand point! Based on these “confusion” colors, you may notice your child calling “Barney” blue and their green toys brown, red or visa versa. They may tell you to look at a light green object they are holding and it is actually a dull yellow object. When coloring, their choice of colors may seem odd. Why does Lincoln have a green face or Santa Claus have on a brown suite?
Letter From Stephanie: My ten year old son has a color deficiency. How I wish a color vision test was a prerequisite along with the usual medical check-up before Kindergarten. Though I wondered why only my preschooler thought Barney was blue, being he was my first child I didn’t realize he should have a good grasp on his colors long before age five.
Kindergarten through 3rd grade are full of color-coding and coloring with crayons is a major part of most subjects. It was torturous for a child not quite sure what everyone was referring to. Even when a teacher is aware that a child is “color-blind”, colors are ingrained into most aspects of the school day. From the color coded “centers” to picking what you want for lunch (i.e., the red stick for a hot dog, the green stick for grilled cheese). It is a constant source of frustration. Everyday brought a new story, grief from an art teacher for a red & pink Abraham Lincoln, you are in the wrong line, you are not paying attention. Fourth grade has been an absolute joy for my son, crayons were not on the supply list this year! He has developed a off-the-wall sense of humor about color related situations and when the situation comes up he will often make a stab in the dark attempt at naming a color, and when he announces that the paint is purple and it is green he’ll laugh “well give me a break, I’m color blind”. My heart goes out to all those little Kindergarten children sitting in a classroom wondering what on earth the teacher is talking about. It makes me wonder how that affects other aspects of their schooling. I mean they have got to think “this teacher does not make any sense” and perhaps eventually not listen as attentively.
Next fall I will try to interest our parent teacher group in purchasing a color test, but I have a feeling this sort of testing needs to start at the other end of the school power chain, along with vaccines, check their color vision. There wouldn’t happen to be some radical group pushing an anti-color coding agenda would there? As mundane as a color difference may sound, I have found it to be a recurring nightmare for a child with a profound color vision loss.
Answer: Dear Stephanie: Thank you for sharing. I was touched by your concerns and agree we need early testing. My son is also color deficient. I know both our sons will grow up and be just fine. A sense of humor is key. Keep in mind, several of the Presidents of the United States were color deficient. It did not seem to hold them back. Thank you again.
Comment from Tina: Your webpage for color blindness was a great place for me to get information regarding other parents with children diagnosed with this problem. I am a mother of two children, my five year old was just recently diagnosed with being color blind. Although I had suspected this for quit some time because he just couldn’t get his colors straight. My father is also color blind, and I had thought that this might be a possibility, sent down through the gene line. I did ask his pediatrician a few times if we could check, but he had no way of doing this in his office. He suggested going to an optometrist. But when he came home from school one day (his second week of kindergarten) and showed me his green dinosaur, which was actually brown, I gave his teacher a call. She didn’t know if the school nurse had any way of telling if he was having problems with his colors or not, but she would ask. She did have the number test and tested him and of course he failed. I was relieved in a way because I knew that there must be a reason he couldn’t tell certain colors from others. Except the ones that he memorized! Like he know that the grass was green because I told him that it was so many times. His teacher was very supportive and that it wouldn’t effect his grade at all and she would watch him. He does go to her desk a lot to ask what color a crayon is. So brown is green and light pink and light blue is the same color and Barney is blue. My father did well in his life and I’m sure that my son will too. It’s just making life a little more interesting.
Answer: Thank you for your charming e-mail. With your permission, I would like to post it to my FAQ section.
Question from Sandra: My son has always had problems with colors. My mom told me that her dad and each of his 5 brothers are colorblind and that my son very well could be also. He is now 6, and he really is still not clear on colors, however, I now question it. He is an A/B honor roll student. We gave him your online color vision test. He couldn’t see anything, even on the pediatric test. My three year old daughter walked up and after my son couldn’t answer and pointed and exclaimed, “There it is, its a boat, you see it?” So I thought okay, we need to get this documented.
We went to his pediatrician. She held up a red dictionary, my son said it was red. Then she held up another red dictionary, he said that it was brown. Then she gave him an Ishihara color vision test. He couldn’t see anything, so she referred us to an optometrist. However, as soon as we got home that day, he pulled out a sucker and said, “This is red.” Confused, I started picking up cups, glasses, what color, green, red, blue, yellow, orange, etc., all of which were right. Then I grabbed some dull colored construction paper and he got all those right also???? The only problem I saw was that he had trouble with brown and purple.
It is now two weeks later and we just finished at the optometrist. The reason I am asking for your help is because I felt rushed and didn’t understand what the optometrist was telling me. First of all, I wasn’t present at any of the testing, the O.D. never knew anything I told you. He was diagnosed as red/green colorblind and as needing reading glasses.
How is it possible for him to be colorblind given the above information? Is it possible that I am getting the run-around? Any answers you could possibly give me would be so very greatly appreciated. Thank you so very much.
Answer: Thank you for your inquiry. No, you are not being given the run-around.
I can tell you researched the subject on colorblindness well by the fact you tested your son with “dull” (unsaturated) colored construction paper and confusion colors “green”, “yellow”, and “orange”.
From a practical stand point, many protanomalous and deuteranomalous people breeze through life with very little difficulty doing tasks that require normal color vision. Most can identify saturated colors you show them and not even be aware that their color perception is in any way different from normal. The only problem they have is passing a color vision test and occasionally misidentifying certain unsaturated or confusion colors, including brown or purple.
The general rule is “mild” color deficient children can correctly identify most saturated colors. It is normally just different shades or tints that give them problems. With your permission, I would like to share this question and answer on my webpage. I think it will help other parents.
Comment from N.F.: I have a son who is colour blind and was diagnosed in kindergarten. The eye doctor told me to just keep encouraging the colors I saw and he would then develop his own color scheme. He is now 24 and I feel I did him an injustice all through school. He was placed in a learning disabled class due to his uncooperativeness in class. I always felt he was a very bright child but I knew nothing about colour-blindness. I never put two and two together, about the games and tests given in school. How do you make up for all those years of him feeling humiliated? I now have a grandson whom I feel is colour blind and will encourage my daughter to follow through, so he will not face the obstacles my son faced. Your web site has given me a great deal of insight into this problem. In reading several web pages on this topic, I now understand better what my son was going through. Teachers, school systems and doctors need to put more of an emphasis on this problem. Children are being treated unjustly in schools. Maybe a work shop on the subject can make a teacher more aware of the problem and how to work with that child, to help rather than hinder. I also notice now that the majority of children in these Learning Disabled class are male. How can I go about helping our school district to become more aware of this problem and to do more to help the children who have this problem? I truly wish I knew then, what I know now. I could have saved my son the horrors he faced through his school years. His self esteem was damaged by the system and my own stupidity. Thank you for listening to me and keep up the good work. Sincerely, N. L. (Syracuse, NY)
Answer: You did “not” do your son an injustice. You did the right thing by encouraging and confirming the colors he correctly recognized. The majority of color deficient children can correctly identify a lot of colors. It is normally just different shades or tints that give them problems. Also, knowing what color things are can help “severely” color deficient children in their daily tasks. Example: when asked to color a picture, they will know to use the crayon “labeled” green for the grass, blue for the sky, and light tan for Lincoln’s face.
You did not fail your son. The problem is with the system. I like your suggestion “maybe a workshop” on how to help color deficient students in their struggle to learn. I published my webpage What parents and teachers should know about colorblindness to help educate teachers.
I would like to see all color deficient children receive special counseling and education on the subject of color deficiency. Understanding is key in coping and maintaining good self esteem. Also, a sense of humor helps.
Your son is lucky to have you for his mother. I have a feeling he knows that.
Question from J.J. What does the world look like through the eyes of my color deficient child?
Answer: It will vary depending if your child has a protan or deutan deficiency, a combination of both, or whether it is mild or severe deficiency. Let me try explaining technically first and then give you an answer in layman terms.
In protanopia the visible range of the spectrum is shorter at the red end compared with that of the normal, and that part of the spectrum which appears to the normal as blue-green, appears to those with protanopia as grey. The whole visible range of the spectrum in protanopia consists of two areas which are separated from each other by this grey part. Each area appears to those with protanopia as one system of color with different brightness and saturation within each area, the color in one area being different from that of the other. The red with a slight tinge of purple which is the complementary color of blue-green appears also as grey.
In deuteranopia, that part of the spectrum which appears to the normal as green, appears as grey, and the visible range of the spectrum is divided by this zone into two areas, each of which appears to be of one system of color. The visible range of the spectrum is not contracted, in contrast to protanopia. Purple-red which is the complementary color of green appears also as grey.
In protanomalia and deuteranomalia (mild color deficiency), there is no part of the spectrum which appears grey, but the part of spectrum which appears to those with protanopia (severe color deficiency) as grey, appears to those with protanomalia as a grayish indistinct color, and likewise, the gray part of the spectrum seen by the person with deuteranopia (severe color deficiency) appears to those with deuteranomalia as an indistinct color close to grey.
From a simplified and practical stand point, all this technical talk can be summarized. Red-green color deficient individuals lose the brightness of some colors like red (protans are red weak) and other colors like green may look similar to brown, red, yellow, gray, etc.. One of the peculiarities of red-green deficiencies is that blue colors appear to be remarkably clear compared with red and green colors.
For more information to your inquiry, go to this webpage http://www.firelily.com/opinions/color.html. It gives some excellent examples of what the world looks like through the eyes of color deficient individuals. Another good webpage is mine http://colorvisiontesting.com/whatcolorblindpeoplesee.htm
From A.R.: I am a colourblind mum with a colourblind son, and I feel that it is a real advantage to be able to understand what he sees. I had the same help from my father, although my brothers thought it great that they could always beat us at snooker – we kept potting the brown instead of the reds. Our problem usually seems to be with finding the red in colours – green & brown, blue & purple, pink & grey.
I find that as you get older you learn what colour things are supposed to be, then get caught out when someone uses an unexpected colour, like the green trousers I bought for my husband thinking they were brown. Hooray for catalogue shopping, at least when they use understandable colour names. Does anyone else have to ask passers by what colour their bottles are at the bottle recycling banks?
Letter from Phil: About 1 year ago we realized my now 8 year old son is colorblind. Just before Christmas he received a colored bead kit as a gift and he repeatedly picked up a green bead and said it was brown. For a long time before this we noticed him confusing his colors, we just assumed he was being careless. It was not until his 4 year old brother was correcting him and the bead incident did I put 2 and 2 together.
On asking him further he sees purple as blue and sometimes says green is brown or pink. Anyway we had him officially checked and he is colorblind, it doesn’t affect him much now that he reads ,he reads the colors on the crayons.
The interesting part of this story, knowing how its inherited we investigated maternal family members. His mother is normal color vision so we asked her father who is 63 years old. He thought he was normal color vision. I then proceeded to show him a color blindness test and he failed every chart! The man has been a printer for 40 years and it obviously wasn’t a problem for him, he didn’t even know he was color deficient.
I just wanted to share this story. I found this site the other day and I thought it my help other parents.
Answer: Phil, thank you for sharing. Your father-in-law is a good example of someone with a “mild” deficiency that could have been unjustly disqualified from some jobs.
Question From Karen: wondering if you have an estimate of how many people in the US or other population are colorblind.
Answer: I just run across this stat at “http://www.color-vision.com/”. The webpage says there are 15 million color deficient individuals in North America and 250 million worldwide.
Question From P.A.: I am a concerned parent and have a question that hopefully you can help me with. My son is four years old and was diagnosed with color deficiency. We believe my father might have the same problem, but has never been tested. The doctor performed a color test on my son but with the numbers, well my four year old is not very well with his numbers and when the doctor would ask what numbers he would see, he couldn’t tell her because he either didn’t know them or actually could not see them. But when she would show him the pictures with the color from x to x he was “not” able to follow the color from point a to point b. When she seen that he could not follow the color patterns nor reply with the numbers she diagnosed him as being partially colorblind. He has a tendency of seeing everything blue. When I point something out to him and ask “What color is it?” he answers blue. Is there a possibility that she could have misdiagnosed him because of the fact that he could not reply with the proper number? Thank you for your time. Concerned Parent.
Answer: Thank you for your inquiry about your son. It is “most” likely your son is color deficient ( blue is one of the colors color deficient individuals recognize ) and “less” likely he did not understand the test. But, you are right. When there is a nil response, it is hard to be confident in a diagnosis. Color Vision Testing Made Easy was design to help in this area. The first six cards have “two” objects, either a circle, star, and/or square (children do not need to know their numbers). A color deficient person “must” see one object and a color normal person will see “two” objects. This way the color deficient person identifies something letting you know they understand the test and are trying their best. You normally feel confident in your diagnosis. I tested my youngest son at age 2 using CVTME by him simply finding a “ball” circle on eight of nine test cards.
Early diagnosis is important. Have your son re-tested before he starts pre-school. Also, check more of the family history. If grandfather or any uncles, cousins, etc. are color deficient, this makes a more credible diagnosis. I hope you find this answer helpful.
Question From MF: I think my 3 year old son cannot distinguish red and green accurately. Everyone I have tried refuse or are unable to test children unless they know their numbers.
Answer: Look at my webpage (What Teachers Should Know).. It identifies some of the “confusion colors”. Then, ask your son what color some of his favorite toys are e.g. what color is Barney? Purple is some times confused with blue. Also, try to find a vision care professional that has Color Vision Testing Made Easy.
Comment From Donna: My 10 year old son was diagnosed about nine months ago as being colorblind. I had always wondered why he couldn’t distinguish most of his colors. I think he would be considered “severe”. He guesses at all colors most of the time. This recently had an interesting effect on him. He is a soccer player and has never had problems in the past with seeing the field lines because they are usually marked in white. This past weekend, he played in a soccer tournament where they had painted the lines in orange. Philip had a lot of trouble distinguishing where the lines were! I never would have thought of it until it happened to him.
Answer: Thank you for sharing. I am posting your comment because I think others will benefit from reading it. Thank you again.
My name is Patrick Blonk, I’m from the Netherlands. At about the age of 8 I was tested to see if I was colourblind and I was. This test was a regular test during primary school, my parents were unaware of the problem. I read some (not all) of the stories sent in by parents of colourblind children. I’d like to give some comment on them.
First of all I’d like to say that the stories I read on your website, written by parents of colourblind children, were very familiar to me. I recognized a lot. When you’re a child, and parents are not aware that colourblindness is / was present in their family / families, parents are equally unaware that their child may be colourblind. This may lead to some misunderstanding of the problem when the child has been diagnosed as being colourblind. My mother, for instance, thought it was her ‘fault’, as the pediatrician told us it was most likely that the colourblindness was present in her family (which is correct). Almost all of my (male) cousins are colourblind, they all have a mother who is a sister of my mother’s.
Colourblindness in early childhood may easily be interpreted as the child not being able to give colours the names they have. My parents thought I was a slow learner, as I wore socks of mixed colours (blue and gray) every time I took them out of the wardrobe myself. The thought that I might be colourblind never occurred to them. I do not blame them for it, they just didn’t know.
I have been a teacher (secondary education) for 15 years now. Every new school year I inform my learners that I am colourblind. In these past 15 years one thing has remained the same all the time. Learners do not understand colourblindness, but want to know. I explain them that I understand why they cannot understand. If you put your hands before your eyes, you understand blindness. If you put your hands on your ears, you understand deafness. But you cannot not see colours if you do see colours neither can you not give the incorrect names to colours if you can see colours.
Colourblind or not?
On your site I read a story about a woman whose son was diagnosed with colourblindness after failing a colourblindness test, but he gave all the right names of the colours when she went home and asked him what colours different things had. I understand that she thought that either he failed the test on purpose or that the test result was not correct, but as a colourblind person I can say something about it. For me, there have been 2 tricks with which I learned (and am still learning) colours for different things;
– The first trick, and the most successful, is that I remembered what people said what colour a specific object had. When you are in a familiar surrounding (your house), you will hear other people say what colour goes with what thing. So, what you do is simply remember what colour was given to an object. You yourself, however, do not see this. You just remember what had been said about it. Anybody will learn that the sky is blue, clouds are white, grass is green and so on, and so on.
– The second trick (for me at least) is to try to guess what degree of grayness a specific object has. I do see colours to some degree (shades of gray) and I am therefore able to guess what colour it may be. This is, however, dependent on how ‘light’ or ‘dark’ an object is. I use a simple technique: if it is ‘light’ it will be either green, yellow or orange. If it is ‘dark’ it may be red, brown, blue or black. I obviously make mistakes, but to the surprise of many, I do guess right many times, about 5 times out of 10 I guess right. So if this mother is astonished by the fact that her son got all the colours correct at home, my guess is that her son uses the same tricks as I do.
If your child is colourblind, he/she will encounter problems. But fewer than you might think. I will give you some examples;
– Asking/showing the way has always been and will always be a problem. If you ask the way to somebody, chances are that he will search for an object with a colour that is easily recognizable as ‘standing out’ compared with the rest. For colourblind people it will (probably) not be the case.
– A colourblind person does not understand why colour A does not match with colour B.
– Watching sports on television. The colours on T-shirts are sometimes confusing for colourblind persons, they appear to be the same. The consequence being that a colourblind person cannot tell which player belongs to which team.
– Reading in class. When writing on a blackboard / whiteboard a teacher should be aware that some colours cannot be used on a specific board. Being colourblind myself I know what colours to evade. But writing in green/red/brown on a blackboard is either very hard or simply impossible to read. The same goes for yellow / pink on a whiteboard. This is of course dependent on what kind of colourblindness a person has, but certainly the blackboard will cause problems.
– Playing board games. For a colourblind person it is almost impossible to tell the difference between pieces. I always chose the yellow one, as it is the one that stands out, as normally you have a yellow, a blue, a brown and a black piece. Troubles arise when you have yellow, green, orange, blue, red, brown and black.
– The Internet. It is the same as in class, a site has a background colour and a colour in which a text is written. If they belong to the same group, colourblind people will have difficulties.
– Maps. Especially underground railway maps and maps with an equally coloured pattern.
– There is no cure. Either you have it when you’re born or not. I have had to explain this all my life.
– Traffic lights are no problem, although almost every non-colourblind person seems to think so. You learn where red and green are, even if you cannot tell the difference.
– Mentioning of colours by non-colourblind people. My learners are always ashamed when they talk about or refer to colours when they are talking with me. That is not a problem. Colourblind people understand that other people will talk ‘in colours’, as they can see colours. It’s the same with blind people I guess. They understand that people who can see, will use phases such as:”You see what I mean?”.
Although I understand completely why people want to ‘test’ me after I have said that I am colourblind, but I do admit that it is getting on my nerves that people immediately start asking the question:”What colour has that object?”. Please people, if your child is colourblind try to avoid this question. Tell other people not to ask the question. Every time people ask me this question I feel like a liar.
I wanted to add my thanks to the many others for this website. My brother and I tested red-green colorblind as very young children. I’m told we’re both fairly severely colorblind (I usually get about 2 out of 15 correct on color tests), but I have to say it has never really gotten in my way. Most people find it kind of fascinating, and they always have to hold up an apple or marking pen and say “what color is this?”
I do all kinds of work that requires color vision–my degree is in film, I do many video projects, as well as graphic design, website and computer application screen design, and print layout, and am an artist too. Here’s the two best pieces of advice I have for others who find being colorblind limiting or frustrating.
First, I always partner up with a color-sighted person (usually a woman) on projects when it comes to palette selections, matching colors, picking icon color schemes, etc. I’ve never tried to hide my color deficiency, so everyone knows looking at one of those PMS color swatches with 8 zillion color choices is just too overwhelming. But once colors are selected, the numeric value virtually ensures everyone is working from the same palette.
The ABSOLUTE BEST, most helpful tool that has literally transformed my design ability is the (click on the name) WhatColor software for which I found the link on your website. I can’t say enough about how much this has helped me (I even went back to your website and looked at the color test with it–great tool!). It’s free to download and test, and to buy a ligit copy is a whopping $8. I’d highly encourage all colorblind people who use a computer to give it a try.
I, like many of the others who’ve written you, also refer people to your website regularly. I love the page that shows how color blind people see the world. For me, each of the photos side by side are practically indistinguishable, but it’s always a kick to hear the gasps come out of their mouths. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t know what I’m missing. But hey, at the end of the day, even a black and white TV is better than no TV at all.
Thanks for the site, and the forum for colorblind people to share stories. I found them all worth reading.
Thank you so much for your site. I especially enjoyed reading stories from other “color confused” people. I am a supervisor at work and required to review color coded reports much to my dismay. I have to have someone tell me the color and I hand write on the printout what the color is so I can follow along in the meetings.
I also had challenges with traffic lights before they changed them out to the new LED larger sized lights. Often I simply couldn’t tell if the light was on or not.
Now my own unique story: I lived in the always bright and sunny Texas for many years. My 9 year old son and I had just bought new sunglasses at a corner store. I bought the ones with the yellow tint. Off we went driving down the road in fairly heavy traffic and as we approached the traffic light I could not see even the ‘new and improved lights’ At All. It was so bright out that I couldn’t take off the yellow sun glasses so I had to rely on my young son to tell me what color the light was. I asked him three or more times, “What color is the light!” He said it was green and we drove through without mishap, thankfully. Lesson learned… colorblind people should never wear yellow sunglasses.
Thank you again for your site.
Thank you for an excellent site. My color blindness was identified in elementary school, when I held up wrong color crayons when being taught color identification.
Years ago, I tried the X-Chrome lens and found it useful for driving and for identifying color codes on electric wires. The red lens made red colors appear MUCH brighter and green colors appear darker, more dim. By comparing the differing view from each eye, I was able to distinguish many more wire colors than without the lens. I stopped using the red lens when I returned to wearing glasses, because I needed to wear safety glasses at work.
I am red/green color blind and my major problem with driving was that the red light on old traffic signals looked very dim in comparison to the yellow and green lights. The green light appeared to be a dirty white. The yellow is distinctive. The new traffic lights with larger, brighter red light is much easier to see. With the old, dim light, it was difficult to tell in bright glare conditions, if the red light was on, or if the traffic light was dead and no light was on. I have driven over 40 years without an accident.
I was able to get a private pilot license, but restricted to not fly under color signal control.
I found your website very interesting. I am 14 years old, female, and at school in the UK. I’ve always known I was colourblind, and thought this may be an interesting way to see how colour blindness affects your daily life.
I remember in junior school we were drawing snowmen and I put in a purple sky, which others seemed to find quite funny.
Whenever I buy some new pencils or pens I have to ask my family what colours they are then put labels on them, or I end up having houses with green bricks or lakes with purple water.
I have been told I cannot become a bus driver when I am older because I may not be able to tell the difference between the red, amber and green traffic lights.
I remember knitting something and a ball of wool I wanted was on the other side of my mother – so I asked her to pass me “the greeny, browny, greyey, pinky, bluey wool next to you”. There was a whole pile next to her, and of course she didn’t have a clue which one I meant!
My dad is colour blind too, and we once spent quite a while trying to pick up hazelnuts that we had accidentally spilled on our red (or green or brown) carpet. No one else was in at the time, or we would have asked for their help! We found hazelnuts on the floor for a while afterwards!
It’s often a problem in art, when we have to copy a painting – I cant tell what colour something is in the painting, and then in the tray – so a painting homework often turns into a social occasion with me asking what colour things are and my family telling me which paint to use!
Another problem is that I cant tell if bread of cheese is moldy – the ‘green’ mould is the same colour (or similar) to the ‘brown’ bread or yellow cheese.
In biology and chemistry we are sometimes supposed to note the colour changes in a chemical, but this is very difficult – especially when sometimes I don’t even see a change!
We have some temporary classrooms on our school’s front field (a part of the school was destroyed by a fire) which when they first arrived I thought they were pink when they were actually grey. A friend said “they must look much nicer in your eyes then”, but they don’t, because I haven’t seen them any other way. And it was more of a case of me not knowing what colour they were and guessing it was pink (the best word I could use to describe the colour).
Great site. Just wanted to share my story in the hopes that it would help anyone with a color deficiency trying to earn a pilot’s license. (in the U.S.)
I’ve known about my color deficiency since an eye exam when I was 16. (I’m now 32.) It was never really an issue, except for the occasional ribbing, until I started training for my private pilot’s license four years ago. After about 12-15 hours of flight training and many hours of studying, I was told that I was ready to make my first solo flight. However, the school where I was training, and the FAA regulations, required me to pass my FAA physical before this would happen.
I had taken the color tests in the past and have always failed. When I went for my exam, no surprise, I failed. On my student pilot’s certificate the doctor entered the standard restriction for someone with deficient color vision: “Not valid for night flying or by color signal control.” This meant that not only could I not fly at night or by light gun signals, but the flight school would not let me solo.
Fortunately, the doctor knew that you can petition the FAA to take a special practical test, and if you pass, the restriction would be removed. So after filling out the application and waiting about 2 months, (flying only with an instructor) I took the test-which consisted of standing with an FAA official about 200 yards from the control tower while the controllers flashed the red, green, and white lights (used for communication when you have a radio failure) I had to tell the FAA official what each color was and whether or not it was blinking. After about 20 or so flashes, getting 100% correct, I passed the test. I was issued a Statement Of Demonstrated Ability (S.O.D.A) that is attatched to my medical certificate. In effect, it is a waiver that negates the limitations listed on the medical certificate due to deficient color vision. This S.O.D.A. is valid for life, providing the condition remains the same.
Keep in mind that this is for a Class III medical certificate, which means that if I decide to get a commercial license, I will need a Class I or II medical certificate and may have to repeat the test or take an entirely different test. (I’m working on that now, I’ll let you know.)
If any one has any questions regarding this process feels free to contact me. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Story from K.D.
I just read your web site about colorblindness. I’m a 62 year old male who discovered I was colorblind when I was in 10th grade. I found the little circles with numbers in them in my Biology book. The numbers didn’t match, but the caption did tell me what a colorblind person would see. I shared this information with my mother and she commented that explained why I colored things so differently when I was younger. She did get me checked out by an optometrist . I was diagnosed with a weak red/green colorblindness. I can see solid color objects, but blends are up for grabs.
In college, I had wanted to major in chemistry, but I soon found out that my color vision wasn’t going to allow that. However, I did graduate with a broad General Science major with a minor in Math. I became a teacher. I was in the public school classroom for 38 years teaching Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Physical Science, Earth/Space Science, and Human Anatomy and Physiology. It was always amusing to the students when I would tell them something was blue and it was some other color. I would then have to explain about colorblindness. Of course, I would go through the questions of ‘What color is this”? It was fun on my part and a teaching moment for my students.
At teacher in-service’s, they would always say get out the salmon, peach, or some other “odd” color. I would have to ask a colleague which paper to get out. Later in life, I would always make comments about making them more friendly to us color handicapped individuals. I don’t know if anyone really listened or thought I was being a smart ass. Some of those workshop/in-services were worthless anyway.
About driving, I know I have run a few red lights when the sun was at the right angle and caused the glass on stop light to reflect just right and make it appear to be green when it was actually still red. I watch the traffic carefully at those times of the day in case It is red.
Being colorblind has made my life interesting. I agree that schools need to diagnose colorblind students, and they should be tested. I would agree with those who say that colorblindness is a disability. But, like all disabilities, you can get by if you really want to. I have found it t be humorous on occasion by making fun of it about myself. Its all part of educating the people around you. If you feel this may useful for any reason and wish to post any or all on your web site, you have my permission.
Story from Iowa:
I really appreciated your website. The information & tests were excellent. I wanted to share a couple “colorblind” stories with you. I am a 28 year old male from Iowa. My maternal grandfather was colorblind & I inherited it. The first time my parents realized I was colorblind was when I was 3. We were in the car driving past a farm (imagine that in Iowa), & I said, “Hey, Mom, look at those green cows!” They were lying in the grass & I couldn’t (still can’t) distinguish the green & brown. I also have a very hard time with some blues & greens, blues & purples, oranges & greens, reds & browns. I hated Social Studies in Jr. High. I never could color the maps right. Flashing red or amber stoplights really keep me guessing at night. I have learned to guess & match colors pretty good, but recently l have encountered another problem. I am a father of a two year old boy who isn’t colorblind. He is learning his colors & half the time I’m not sure whether he is right or wrong. I never tell him the color of something unless it is very obvious because I do not want to confuse him.
I just found your website about color blindness. I’m surprised at some of the comments people wrote to you worrying about their child’s color deficiency.
I suppose some people’s vision is pretty bad and things can be traumatic for them. I had a boss one time that was completely monochromatic who liked to use awful colors on his powerpoint presentations, and we had to suggest to him to stick with greys.
As for me, I am pretty typically mildly red-green colorbind. I never knew this until I was granted an NROTC scholarship. I went in for my physical and failed the color vision test, probably the farnsworth you describe on your website. I wasn’t allowed in the Navy but the Marine Corps snapped me up. I was devastated at the time because all my youth was directed at becoming a navy officer. In retrospect, it was the best thing to ever happen to me. I can’t imagine not having been a Marine for these past 20-some years.
So, sometimes things work out for the better. I haven’t seen a single real experience where color played any significant role.
Otherwise, I have a car that others say is purple, but I adamantly insist is blue.
Being color blind for me is hardly traumatic. It got me a better military career and I don’t have to admit that I have a purple car.
It’s a win-win
Just a quick note to let you know what happened to me. I went to take a Commercial Drivers Licenses (CDL) physical exam in the state of Florida, USA. I have a color deficiency, so seeing the numbers in the circles doesn’t work for me. The technician said not to worry that sometime people have problems and that is why they use the “color bar”. This was a piece of wood with five colors on it, . She asked me to tell her what colors I saw, which I did and passed. When my wife went to get her CDL physical the technician pointed to the colors and asked what the color was. Either way, this test can be passed if a person has a minimal color deficiency. The CDL physical exam states that all a person has to be able to do is to distinguish Red, Green and Amber. I hope this information is helpful to others.
I found your web site very interesting. I first realized I had a color deficiency when I was informed the grass in my coloring book was red when it should have been green. I did not have an actual test until I was about 35 and was looking at these images where I didn’t see many of the images. In fact I got 15 out of 16 wrong. I am now 51 and have learned to adjust. Co-workers find it “funny” and interesting when I mistaken colors for clothing or any other object.
One entry on your site referred to the traffic light colors. I have found that to be the worse problem and like him, I have just memorized where they are. With clothing, you buy one brand of blue pants, and a different brand of black. In the morning, they can look alike, but that may be true for everyone. With this method you do have to remember which clothes have which colors. I also find that marking the back of ties and or waist bands in pants to be helpful.
Since I went to school in the days of black boards, the white chalk was never a problem. But now with white boards and mutli-colored markers, the red/green, or blue/purple color schemes can be a problem. I now inform the instructor of the problem and they normally will not include one of these colors. The instructors were never aware of these types of problems. Thanks again.
K.M . I first learned that I was color blind when I was in second grade. I’m pretty sure that my mom had it in for me because she bought me socks that confused me all the time. There was brown, dark, dark red, black and navy blue. Guess how many times I went to school with a brown and red or blue and black “matching” pair of socks. Very embarassing for a7 yr. old. I really realized it however when I was about 11. I had a “red” shirt that I swore was black. Mom asked what I was going to wear and I said my tan pants and black shirt. Mom asked, “`What black shirt?” I said “That black crushed velvet shirt.” (It was the seventies. And no, Elvis wasn’t on it.) We proceeded to have an argument over what color this shirt was. She won. I really haven’t had too many problems in life. When I applied for a job at Sears I told them I wasn’t going to work in the paint dept. because I was slightly color blind. There are other stories but this is long enough. Thanks for your site. It’s really informative.
K.J.H. – Thank you for your website. I found that I became color deficient after losing my sight, due to MS. When I regained my sight, my color vision did not return 100%. Before the MS diagnosis, I was not color deficient. Now I am. But, I am grateful for what color and vision did return. Like your readers write, we can adapt. Again, thank you for your great website.
B.F. – Thanks for your excellent website, especially the section giving advice to teachers. I discovered I was colour-blind about age 5. My teacher was holding up paintings and saying how good they were. After a while, she held up one of mine. I was excited she was holding up my painting, but that excitement did not last long. She ridiculed it and me, by saying how stupid I was painting green trees with brown leaves, and pink clouds and green people. I didn’t even understand what she was talking about! She then came over, pulled me out of my chair, slapped me, and made me stand in the corner much to the delight of my class mates…
When I got home I told my Mother (who is also colour-blind). The following day she went to school with me, explained that virtually all the family is colour-blind, then slapped the teacher! (I do like my Mother)! As my brother, Mother, uncles, male cousins and so on were all colour-blind, I just thought I was normal until that day. Things are getting better, but still have a long way to go.
Any ideas what to say to people who, on discovering you’re colour-blind, then start to ask twenty questions “what colour is this – what colour is that?” and so on? Thanks again, I’ll be pointing every teacher I know to your site.
Answer: It saddened me to hear of your childhood experience. Unfortunately, “no” profession is without those who are ignorant in life..
My son, who is color deficient, says he gets that same question all the time too “What color is this?”. I told him to simply refer them to my webpage for that answer. If the person is sincere, I asked him to try and take the time to “educate” the person about color vision deficiencies.
G.S. – Reading your web site article on colorblindness describes almost exactly my own experiences. At 63, I did not have the problems in school many students seem to experience now. The problems didn’t really show up until high school Chemistry, and then not enough to be a real problem.
As you indicated with your own son, my experiences with color identification in the lower grades were considered to be a simple slowness in learning my colors. I knew all the basic colors and only had problems with shades. I got to almost 20 before my colorblindness was discovered when I tried to enlist in the Coast Guard in early 1957. Interestingly enough, in 1957 the Coast Guard was having trouble reaching its enlistment quota, and a second test allowed me to enlist. In getting discharged in 1961, I was told by the doctor giving my physical that the test I passed was not a legal test for enlistment into the Coast Guard. He was the doctor that passed me. I may be the only illegal Coast Guard veteran you ever heard of.
As your article says, I could see all the basic colors but had problems with pastels and dark colors. I still refuse to wear anything pink due to a problem my freshman year in college with wearing a pink dress shirt (I thought it was white) with a maroon necktie. My sister, who was a senior, saw it and really let me have it when we got home the following weekend. Nothing I could say made any difference since I should have known pink and maroon don’t go together. That I thought the shirt was white was an inexcusable reason for the fluff.
While I’ve not had all the problems you mentioned with traffic lights, green lights get lost in the white lights of the background, while red and amber give me no real problems; when the color changes, I can tell. On the other hand, I cannot always tell if the flashing lights coming at me are an ambulance or fire truck with red lights or a wrecker with amber so I drive as if its red. Thank goodness they went to alternating red and blue, or one red and one blue light on police cars. Flashing traffic lights can give me a problem from a distance as to being red or amber. I simply plan to stop until I get close enough to distinguish the proper color. If someone is with me, I ask for help. As a kid, I had problems with blue, violet, and lavender you mentioned.
As a college sophomore, I had so much trouble due to my unknown problem that I was failing my Chemistry Quantitative Analysts Lab work and not understanding how I could be such a klutz. By the time I realized I had a problem, I had already dropped out of school from the shame of failure.
I didn’t really try the tests you mentioned, but I’m sure that anything that will help making the discovery of partial colorblindness at a younger age will be helpful. I have a feeling if they ever start testing all children BEFORE they start school, the numbers of people with the problem may go up.
My son is 19 and was discovered to be color deficient when he was in 5th grade. He was, along with his class, coloring hearts for Valentine’s Day for their mothers when he colored his brown instead of red. His friends laughed at him and he threw the heart away, but he told me about it when he got home.
I have always known that I may be a carrier of the defective gene, but I was surprised to find that it took till my son was in 5th grade to find out he was color deficient. I created a home made test of colors on a paper. I drew equal shape squares on paper and colored each one with the primary colors. I then asked my son to write the color of each beside them. He chose the following.
Red=brown, Brown=red, Blue=purple, purple=blue, Green=yellow, yellow=green, grey=pink, pink=grey, He could see orange, black and white.
I then had him professionally tested and it was confirmed. My younger son, age 16, is also color deficient, yet my daughter is not. My father is color deficient.
My question is this. If there were a draft for the military, would my sons be excluded based on color deficiency?
Answer: No, He would not be excluded from the draft.
J.B. – I am a 24 year male who didn’t know he was color blind until five years ago when I went to work for the Sherwin Williams Paint Comp. Color testing is not required for employment, but when I went to match a color, I was putting a gray to a green, or a brown to a green. The reason I didn’t realize before that I was colorblind was that I see primary colors as well as anyone else. It’s only the in-between colors that give me a hard time. I can match about half of the colors that I confront everyday. It was very hard for me learning that I was color blind. I grew up with a distant pity for people with disabilities because I thought that I was “normal”, but when I realized that I had a color defect I felt everyone else looking at me with that same false empathy because they just don’t understand and never will. I am luckily a musician and am pursuing a Masters Degree, and music is luckily not color coded like the rest of the world. I have found contentment in the colors I see. I even take time now to enjoy sunsets and try to determine the different colors in rainbows. The “normal” world needs to realize that we are not useless because we are color vision deficient.
Answer: Thank you J.B. for taking the time to write. I personally have never considered being color deficient a disability, only a normal variation of the gene pool that adds variety to life.
J. W. I’m 39, and have always known that I was colour blind. The reason – my maternal grandfather was *totally* colour blind (he only ever saw the world in monochrome). The amusing thing is that even though he was in the British army before WWII, they exempted him from conscription in the war *because* of his colour blindness (so there are some compensations…).
My particular confusions: Anything red/green/brown looks the same or highly confusing (I tend to use brightness with these – there isn’t anything else). With “active” colour sources (such as monitors) I seem to add red to all colours (or is it remove red?- so cyan and white are identical, for example). Red and black are often virtually identical too (especially on monitors) – and I never could see red chalk on a blackboard at school!
I’m also bad at distinguishing between green/yellow/orange, and blue/purple/violet etc. Spectra never seem to have more than about three or four distinct colours in them (even when my wife tells me she can see seven or so distinct colours).
When I got married, my wife-to-be instructed the best man that he was to ensure that I wore matching socks on the day – he promised that he would do this. Come the day of the wedding, everything goes fine, the best man even makes an embarassing comment in his speech about making sure I had matching socks – except that later that evening Liz discovers – horror – I’m wearing one green and one brown sock (they matched to me :)).
Alternative job for colour blind individuals: My wife has been known to comment that I could probably make a fortune by using my “interesting” talent to paint highly surreal and post-modern pictures with such exciting features as green faces, purple skies and brown grass (or even exciting combinations of “identical” colours for each object). Given all the other things that people pay money for in the art world, she might even be correct 🙂
Answer: Thank you for sharing. If you are adding red to your monitor, you are probably red weak (a protan). Protans normally “increase” the brightness of red when trying to match some colors. Deutans (green weak) would add green to their monitor.
Anonymous: Excellent website. Perhaps my experience would be of interest to you.
I first suspected something was faulty with my color perception as a preschool child, but had my condition confirmed via a thorough color test during a physical exam at about age 17. Now at the age of 68, I would like to offer some of my life experience with this slight defect which may to of interest and help to others. My life has been and is enjoyable, fairly normal, with only a few diversions due to my faulty color perception. I worked as a scientist, engineer, professor, and executive. The areas that needed some attention due to my deficiency were really very few.
Life as a child with a color perception problem could be difficult if the child does not know he/she may be seeing things slightly different from others. Children can be cruel and tease such a child over his silly mistakes. Parents suspecting a child may be color blind should try to confirm this as early as possible, admit it, and it is easy for the parents and their teachers to help the child deal with it. I found it comfortable to be open with my peers, even to make some jokes about my color limitation. The other children actually seemed to enjoy helping me pick out the correct crayon, etc. and trying to understand what I was seeing. (?What does this red crayon really look like to you??) I even helped a few other boys in my classes realize that they were also color blind.
The world of science and engineering is full of color coded parts and tests which require color distinction. I have not heard of anyone being denied employment in these fields because of color blindness. However, one must train himself to be extremely cautious when working with such parts and processes. Don?t guess. Simple equipment, such as ohmmeters to check resistor values, is available in most cases to determine required values. Many chemical processes require detection of color changes to establish status. This was impossible for me. Determining material composition using a spectrograph is by definition impossible for a color blind person. Getting help from another pair of eyes with normal color distinction capability is the only answer. I found my peers always willing to graciously help.
This is perhaps the most miserable part of being color blind It is probably the most irritating because it is so easy to fix, but requires others to make the fix. As a manager I would sit in meetings being shown colored charts, bar charts, serape charts, etc., which were not very useful to me. People reporting to me learned to include cross-hatching patterns to help me distinguish bars and lines on the charts.Newspapers today are proud of their color printing technology and delight in exhibiting their capability with plots using colored lines. I have never seen anything in a newspaper or magazine, or on television, that would indicate they realize there are a group of us out here who find these presentations difficult to interpret.
The red light is on the top and the green is on the bottom, and the amber is in the middle.? This is my answer to the most frequently asked question when I tell them I am color blind. Your website does an excellent job of explaining what this is and what we see. From now on I will direct color blind questions to your site. Thank you very much.
- Handling a deficiency as a child.
- Prof1essional challenges
- Ordinary Life
P.J – As a testament from one colorblind person to others, don’t let the situation run your life…you can take this as a challenge and work to overcome it through communication, education, and dedication. And to my art teacher, “Thank you for challenging me.” I have come a long way since Santa got his brown suit for Christmas in 1974!
Sincerely, Paul Johnson, Gautier, Mississippi