Sometimes referred to as “color blindness,” poor color vision is an inability to distinguish between different hues and certain shades.
Few people are unable to see any colors at all. Difficulty telling the difference between shades of red and green is the most common form of poor color vision. Some people also have trouble distinguishing between yellows and blues.
Reduced color vision connected to aging occurs naturally and causes a deterioration of hue perception. Particularly, older people tend to have difficulties in distinguishing blue from purple or green from yellow since their blue-yellow vision is partially disrupted by natural changes in the eye lens.
Causes of Poor Color Vision
If poor color vision is inherited, the cause is abnormal photopigments (light-sensitive pigments in the retina). Injuries to the optic nerve or retina and disease can also lead to color vision difficulties. Certain medications, including some used to treat high blood pressure, psychological issues, and heart conditions, may also cause changes in color vision.
Contributing factors may also include:
The way that the eyes see various colors of the spectrum is guided by the ability to tell the difference between certain colors. When a person can’t distinguish between green, blue and red, it is a lack of specific chemicals in the cones of the eyes. This can cause two or more of these colors to appear the same. Often, this is an inherited condition that is far more common in boys. Different degrees of this color confusion can be inherited, and both eyes are generally affected.
There are also diseases that can cause this condition. Chronic alcoholism, sickle cell anemia, leukemia, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease can all cause color vision deficits. Eye diseases like macular degeneration and glaucoma can also cause it. The use of certain mediations can also change the way colors are seen by the patient. Some medications for infections, mental illnesses, erectile dysfunction, nervous disorders, heart disease and high blood pressure can cause this condition. In addition, being exposed to chemicals such as fertilizers and carbon disulfide in the workplace has been known to cause it.
Poor color vision isn’t often diagnosed until a person with the condition experiences several misunderstandings or has personal difficulties with some tasks. During an eye exam, a patient will be shown a series of colored dots (pseudoisochromatic plates). Patients with a color deficiency will not be able to see numbers within the dots or they will see different embedded numbers.
Managing Poor Color Vision
Specially tinted eyeglasses or contact lenses can help manage the condition, but there is no cure for poor color vision. Management may also include labeling colors or memorizing the logical order of colors, as with traffic lights.
Achromatopsia is the term of complete color blindness. People with this form of poor color vision only see shades of black and white or gray. According to the National Eye Institute, some form of poor color vision affects about one in twelve men and one in 200 women. Chronic alcohol consumption and some forms of dementia may also contribute to color vision issues.
There are few ways to prevent poor color vision because so many cases of this condition are inherited. However, there are a few diseases that are caused by lifestyle choices that can be changed or avoided in order to prevent this eye condition. Chronic alcoholism is one such condition that can be avoided in order to prevent color vision changes. Adult-onset diabetes is another that can often be prevented through the maintenance of a healthy weight and the avoidance of unhealthy foods. For most boys and men who have this condition, the preventative measures used are simply those that allow them to live well with the condition. This can include marking clothing so that the color is known.