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Colour Blindness

What Is Colour Blindness?

Colour blindness is a deficiency that affects how people see colours, and how the differentiate between different colours. The most common types of colour blindness cause individuals to be unable to distinguish between yellow and blue or between red and green, through red-green colour blindness is far more common.

Symptoms and Signs

Colour blindness is typically linked to genetics, so colour blind individuals are typically colour blind all their lives. People who are colour blind can see colours, but some colours appear to be washed out and are easily confused with other colours. If you develop colour vision problems when you are normally able to see a full range of colours you should visit your optometrist as soon as possible since this could be an indicator of an underlying health condition such as cataracts. There are a variety of free colour blindness tests that can help you determine if you are colour blind, and what type of colour blindness you have.


Colour blindness occurs when light sensitive cells in your retina fail to respond appropriately to the variation in wavelengths of light. These different wavelengths are necessary for us to perceive colour and differentiate between different colours.

Colour blindness typically carries a genetic link. The most common form of colour blindness, red-green colour blindness, is caused by a common X-linked recessive gene. Mothers have an XX pairing of chromosomes, and fathers have an XY pairing of chromosomes. The mother and the father each contribute one chromosome to their offspring. If you receive an X from each parent you become a girl and if you receive an X from your mother and a Y from your father you become a boy. Men are more likely to be affected by red-green colour blindness because this trait is linked to X chromosomes. A man only has one X, so this less than desirable trait must be expressed. Women have two X chromosomes, so if they carry the trait it may be masked by their other X chromosome. Women who are colour blind are rare because both of their parents will have had to be carriers.

Treatment and coping strategies

Though gene therapy has been used to cure colour blindess in monkeys it is not yet ready to be tested on humans. In the meantime there is no cure for colour blindness, but there are a variety of coping strategies. People who are colour blind rely on a variety of strategies, such as relying on order rather than colour to gain the information they need. This is why traffic lights are always organized the same way: red at the top, or on the left and green at the bottom or on the right. Colour blind individuals may also ask friends and family to help them label their clothes to avoid colour clashes. Both Android and Apple have also developed apps to help with colour detection.

For more information on colour blindness, or to book an appointment, contact Market Mall Optometry today at 403.286.4884 and visit

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