What Is Color Blindness?

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  • Written By: N. Madison
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2018
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When a person has difficulty distinguishing between colors, he is said to be color blind. Often, people misunderstand what color blindness means and assume it means a person cannot see colors. This is not, however, the case. Instead, a person who is diagnosed with color blindness usually just has difficulty telling the difference between some colors, such as red or green. In most cases, color blindness is inherited and occurs when cone cells in a person’s eyes don’t work as they should or are missing altogether.

Though some people think color blindness means a person can only see in whites, grays and blacks, this is a misconception. A person is color blind when he has problems with seeing and distinguishing the difference between certain colors. Most often, a person who is color blind has issues with distinguishing shades of red and green, but some color vision difficulties involve the color blue as well. It is very rare for a person to be blind to all colors.


Typically, color blindness in an inherited disorder, which means it is passed down in families. Likewise, it is usually there from the moment a person is born as opposed to developing later in life. This disorder occurs because of cone cells in a person’s eyes that influence how he senses colored light. When a person is missing one type of cone cell in his retina, he is color blind. The same issue occurs when all of the cone cells are present but some of them do not work as expected.

The symptoms of color blindness include difficulty distinguishing between some colors or being able to see only some shades of a color. A rare type of color blindness occurs when a person only sees such colors as gray, black, and white. Interestingly, some people are unaware that they are color blind because they do see many colors and do not realize they see some of them in an abnormal manner. Unfortunately, there is no way to cure inherited color vision problems.

In most cases, color blindness doesn’t represent a major problem in one’s life. Sometimes problems with choosing coordinating clothing or reading colored lettering can develop. An individual may also have difficulty when it comes to driving or performing certain jobs. For the most part, however, a person who is color blind can learn ways of dealing with the problem so that he can perform tasks as normal. For instance, a person who is color blind may look to the position of the traffic lights instead of the colors when deciding whether to stop or go.



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