Poor Color Vision

What is Poor Color Vision?

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.

What are the Symptoms of Poor Color Vision?

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:

  • Infections
  • Eye contact with certain chemicals
  • Diabetes and high glucose levels
  • Macular degeneration
  • Multiple sclerosis

How is Poor Color Vision Treated?

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.

Last Reviewed:
September 21, 2016
Last Updated:
August 29, 2017