Color blind glasses: Help for the colorblind?
What are color blind glasses?
Color blind glasses are eyeglasses with specially tinted lenses that help a colorblind person see colors more accurately. Color blind (or colorblind) glasses do not cure color blindness or produce 100% normal color vision. But they enhance and partially correct certain color vision deficiencies of colorblind individuals.
Types of colorblind glasses
Colorblind glasses come in different tints, based on the type and severity of color blindness you have.
Though most types of colorblind glasses look like sunglasses, they are available with different kinds of lenses:
Non-prescription colorblind glasses. Color blind glasses with non-prescription lenses are less expensive than prescription colorblind glasses. These are the ones to buy if you don't have vision problems (other than color blindness) and have 20/20 visual acuity without corrective lenses. They also can be worn over contact lenses if you need vision correction. Oversized color blind glasses are available that can be worn over prescription eyeglasses.
How color blind glasses work
Color vision begins in the retina in the back of the eye. The retina contains specialized cells called photoreceptors that respond to light. There are two types of these cells: rods and cones. Cone photoreceptor cells make color vision possible.
According to Enchroma (a leading manufacturer of color blind glasses; see below), most color vision deficiencies are caused by an abnormal overlapping response to light by different types of cone cells. This problem most often affects cone cells that normally are sensitive to either red or green wavelengths of light. The abnormal overlap of sensitivity to these wavelengths results in red-green color blindness, which is the most common type of color vision deficiency.
To compensate for this abnormal cone response, color blind glasses contain proprietary optical materials that filter specific wavelengths of light where this overlap occurs. The result: more accurate color perception because the brain can now better distinguish red wavelengths from green wavelengths.
Though colorblind glasses do not cure color blindness or produce 100% normal color vision, they allow colorblind individuals to perceive colors they have never seen before and experience closer-to-normal color vision while wearing the specially tinted lenses.
People with color vision deficiencies who try color blind glasses for the first time often are amazed by what they see. Typically, they immediately see a broader array of colors and greater vibrancy of colors than what was "normal" for them without the glasses.
Color blind glasses also have very practical applications. For example, they can help a colorblind person choose and match the colors of their clothes. This reduces the risk of odd color choices and mismatched colors. Colorblind glasses might also widen career opportunities for someone with color blindness.
EnChroma is the leading brand of premium color blind glasses in the United States. The company was founded by researchers in the fields of light filtration and perceptual psychophysics.
EnChroma glasses are available in sunglass styles for outdoor wear and lighter tints for indoors. EnChroma’s color blind glasses also have a 60-day money back guarantee and a 2-year warranty.
According to the company, up to 80% of people with color vision problems may benefit from EnChroma's lens technology. But each person's color vision deficiency is unique, and so is their reaction to color blind glasses.
To find out if EnChroma glasses will likely help with your color vision deficiency, the company recommends taking its online color blindness test. Then visit an authorized EnChroma retailer to consult with a qualified eye care professional.
For more information about EnChroma color blind glasses, visit enchroma.com.
Another option for colorblind glasses is the ColorCorrection System. Dr. Thomas Azman, a Maryland optometrist, developed this technology.
The ColorCorrection System “uses unique tests and filters to create customized ColorCorrect Lenses, designed to match the exact wavelength of light for an individual’s color vision correction need,” according to the company’s website.
ColorCorrection filters are customized for each colorblind individual. And they can be applied to contact lenses as well as eyeglasses.
You can learn more about the ColorCorrection System color blind glasses and contact lenses at colormax.org.
Color blind glasses cost
Color blind glasses typically cost $200 to $450 or more. Cost depends on many factors, including the technology and quality of the lenses. Also, customized prescription color blind glasses often cost significantly more than non-prescription versions.
Beware of cheap color blind glasses sold online or in convenience stores. These products often are sunglasses with tinted lenses that provide little or no benefit for people with color blindness.
Learn about contact lenses for color blindness.
See how color blind tests work.
Understand the different types of color blindness.
What to expect during a comprehensive eye exam.
Page published in January 2019
Page updated in September 2021