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Color Blindness - Topic Overview

How is color blindness diagnosed?

Tests measure how well you recognize different colors.

  • In one type of test, you look at sets of colored dots and try to find a pattern in them, such as a letter or number. The patterns you see help your doctor know which colors you have trouble with.
  • In another type of test, you arrange colored chips in order according to how similar the colors are. People with color vision problems cannot arrange the colored chips correctly.

Because a color vision problem can have a big impact on a person's life, it is important to detect the problem as early as possible. In children, color vision problems can affect learning abilities and reading development. And color vision problems may limit career choices that require you to tell colors apart. Most experts recommend eye exams for children between ages 3 and 5. Vision screening is recommended for all children at least once before entering school, preferably between the ages of 3 and 4.

How is it treated?

Inherited color vision problems cannot be treated or corrected.

For the most common type of color blindness—red-green color deficiency—no treatment is needed, because you function normally. You may not be aware that you do not see colors the way they are seen by others.

Some acquired color vision problems can be treated, depending on the cause. For example, if a cataract is causing a problem with color vision, surgery to remove the cataract may restore normal color vision.

You can find ways to help make up for a color vision problem, such as:

  • Wearing colored contact lenses. These may help you see differences between colors. But these lenses don't provide normal color vision and can distort objects.
  • Wearing glasses that block glare. People with severe color vision problems can see differences between colors better when there is less glare and brightness.
  • Learning to look for cues like brightness or location, rather than colors. For example, you can learn the order of the three colored lights on a traffic signal.
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