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Shedding Light on Color Blindness

The term “color blind” is actually misleading because people with color blindness do see color, but the way they perceive colors (such as blue and yellow or red and green) is inaccurate. More accurately known as Color Vision Deficiency (CVD), color blindness occurs when light-sensitive cells in your retina don’t respond properly to wavelengths of light that allow you to see a spectrum of colors. This makes certain colors appear washed out.

Color blindness can occur for a number of reasons, including:
• Genetics. Red/green color blindness is generally inherited from your parents. The condition is passed down by the X chromosome, which is why more men than women are affected.
• Cataracts. When you have cataracts, your eye’s natural lens is clouded, which can “wash out” color vision. The good news is cataract surgery can make colors appear brighter. clouding of the eye’s natural lens that occurs with cataracts can “wash out” color vision, making it much less bright. Fortunately, cataract surgery can restore bright color vision when the cloudy natural lens is removed and replaced with an artificial intraocular lens.
• Parkinson’s disease. People with Parkinson’s disease may have damage to nerve cells in the retina where vision processing takes place. The nerve cells are light-sensitive, and when damaged, cannot function properly.
• Epilepsy medication. Tiagabine, an antiepileptic drug, has been linked to reduce color vision, although the effects are not permanent.
• Aging. As you age, the chances of damaging retinal cells increases and can cause color blindness.

There are two ways to test for color blindness:
Screening Tests
The most widely used screening test for color blindness is the Ishihara Color Vision Test, a century-old procedure named after a Japanese ophthalmologist. Patients look at pages in that each have a circular pattern comprised of several dots, colors, brightness and sizes. If your color vision is normal, you would see a number within the dots. If you’re colorblind, you will either see a different number or no number at all.

Quantitative Tests
This test includes trays that contain many small disks with varying hues. Each of the four trays has a colored disk at one end for reference. The person being tested must then arrange the other disks on the tray to create a gradually changing hue. Each disk is numbered to score the results. The closer the numbers are to each other, the more accurate the color perception of the person.

If you are experiencing color vision problems when you’re usually able to see a full array of colors, call your doctor. Loss of color vision can be a sign of an underlying health problem, such as cataracts.

Contact Dr. Stefano
For more information regarding eye health, contact us today and schedule an appointment. Our offices are located in Winchester, serving Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland, and you can reach us directly at (540) 722-6200. We look forward to hearing from you!

Posted in: Eye Health

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