Ishihara color plate of number 3

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Everyone sees color differently. For people with color blindness, colors appear very different than how a normal eye perceives them. In this blog, we’ll discuss the different types of colorblindness, as well as the risk factors and treatment options for this condition. 

What is colorblindness

Colorblindness is a partial or complete lack of cones in the retina which affects how your brain interprets colors. This is often due to a genetic trait that affects men more frequently than women. Most colorblind people are born with the deficiency, but it may not become obvious until later in life. Some types of colorblindness can be caused by eye disease or certain medications. The presence of cataracts can also affect how colors appear. 

Types of colorblindness

There are three types of colorblindness:



Complete colorblindness

  • Red-Green colorblindness is the most common form. It is split into 4 categories:
    • Deuteranomaly: the most common type of red-green colorblindness. Causes green to look more red. Considered a mild form of colorblindness.
    • Protanomaly: Causes red to look more green. Considered a mild form of colorblindness. 
    • Protanopia: Causes inability to distinguish between red and green.
    • Deuteranopia: Causes inability to distinguish between red and green.
  • Blue-Yellow colorblindness is a less common form. It is split into 2 categories:
    • Tritanomaly: Causes difficulty distinguishing between blue and green, also yellow and red. 
    • Tritanopia: Causes inability to differentiate between blue and green, purple and red, and yellow and pink. 
  • Complete colorblindness, or monochromacy, causes inability to see colors at all. This type of deficiency is extremely rare. It causes colors to appear in shades of black, white and grey.

Risk factors

Men are at much higher risk for colorblindness than women. According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), approximately 1 in 12 men are colorblind. People who are white have an increased risk as well. Additional risk factors for colorblindness are:

  • Family history of colorblindness
  • Eye diseases such as glaucoma or macular degeneration
  • Underlying health problems such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, or multiple sclerosis
  • Taking certain medications such as Plaquenil (hydroxychloroquine)
  • Presence of cataracts

How is it diagnosed

Colorblindness is diagnosed by an eye doctor. The most common test, called the Ishihara Color Plate Test, uses a series of colored dots with numbers in the center. If the viewer cannot see the number in the color plate, it is likely that they have some form of colorblindness, and additional testing may be required.

Treatment options

There is no cure for hereditary colorblindness. While this type of colorblindness is rarely serious, it can impact some daily activities and overall quality of life. Color perception can be improved with the use of specialty contacts or glasses, which use specific lens tints to change how colors appear. There are also cell phone apps that allow you to take a picture of an item and use words to describe the color. 

If your colorblindness is caused by an underlying disease or eye condition, your doctor will treat this condition. If you notice changes in how colors appear, it is important to be seen by an eye doctor. Sudden changes in your vision and color perception may indicate an underlying problem. 

Thank you for taking the time to read our blog. You can read all of the entries on our website at To schedule an eye exam, please call or text (907) 328-2920.



National Institute of Health National Eye Institute Colorblindness

Written by: Gina Stafford COA, LDO, ABOC

Posted in: Eyes, Patient Education, Uncategorized

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