Color blind glasses: Help for the colorblind?
What are color-blind glasses, and do they really restore normal color vision for people who are color-blind?
In the past, if your eye doctor told you that you had color-blindness, there wasn't much that could be done about it.
Most likely, you were told that being color-blind was a genetic condition and would not change, and that you probably should avoid tasks or professions that require accurate color vision.
But with the development of color-blind glasses, that advice may now change.
What are color-blind glasses?
Color-blind glasses are eyeglasses with lenses that have special filters to help a person with color-blindness — also called color vision deficiency — see colors more accurately.
Though color-blind glasses will not "cure" color-blindness, they give color-blind individuals an opportunity to see the world more accurately and experience a greater spectrum of colors while wearing the glasses.
Color-blind glasses also have very practical applications, such as helping a color-blind person choose and match the colors and patterns of their clothes (reducing the risk of odd color choices and mismatched colors). Wearing color-blind glasses also might widen the career opportunities for someone with color-blindness.
Brands and cost
EnChroma color-blind glasses
Currently, the most popular brand of color-blind glasses are made by EnChroma, a technology company based in California.
EnChroma glasses were developed by Andrew Schmeder, a UC Berkeley-trained mathematician and researcher in the field of perceptual psychophysics, and Don McPherson, PhD, a glass researcher who, prior to co-founding EnChroma, invented laser safety glasses for surgeons.
According to EnChroma, the underlying cause of most color vision deficiencies is an abnormal overlapping response to light by specialized cells in the retina called cone photoreceptors. This problem most often affects cone cells that normally are sensitive to either red or green wavelengths of light, causing "red-green color blindness."
To compensate for this abnormal overlap response, EnChroma lenses contain proprietary optical materials that selectively filter particular wavelengths of light exactly where the overlap is occurring. The result: more accurate color perception because the brain can now better distinguish red wavelengths from green wavelengths.
EnChroma glasses cost approximately $199 to $429 and are available in sunglass styles for outdoor wear and lighter tints for indoors or low-light conditions. Enchroma’s color-blind glasses also have a 60-day money back guarantee and a 2-year warranty.
More information about EnChroma color-blind glasses can be found at enchroma.com.
ColorCorrection System color-blind glasses
Another option for color blind glasses is the ColorCorrection System, developed by Dr. Thomas Azman, a Maryland optometrist. 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 uniquely designed for each color-blind individual and 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.
Other brands of color-blind glasses
There are other brands of color-blind glasses available online. However, most of these (often inexpensive) products are simply eyeglasses with tinted lenses that provide little or no benefit for people with any significant degree of color-blindness.
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.
According to EnChroma, as many as 80 percent of people with color vision problems may be helped by the company'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 that you take its online color-blindness test or visit an authorized Enchroma retailer to consult with a qualified eye care professional. (Visit the EnChroma website for details.)
All about color-blind tests: Learn how your color perception is evaluated with color-blind tests.
Other tests in an eye exam: What to expect during an annual comprehensive eye exam.
Concerned about cost? The cost of your eye exam may be covered by vision insurance.
Page updated September 2020