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Tips for better living with color blindness

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Color blindness, also known as color deficiency, occurs when an individual doesn’t see colors (generally the difference between two colors) in a normal way. And it’s actually fairly common — nearly 300 million people worldwide have some form of color blindness. 

If you are among them, then you know how tricky it can be to adapt within this color-coded world. But just because you see colors a bit differently, doesn’t mean you can’t live a vibrant life!

How does being color blind affect your life… and what can you do about it? Even some simple tasks can be a challenge, so we've compiled a list of tips and tricks for living your best life with color blindness. 

SEE RELATED: Achromatopsia and Tetrachromacy

Let’s review a few and how to implement them:

Tips for better living with color blindness

When you’re driving

When it comes to traffic lights, color-blind drivers have a few options to consider, depending specifically on how they see color. 

You may not see color the same way non-color-blind people do, but you still see color. Often, it’s more about knowing that the color you see at the top means stop, the color you see in the middle means slow down, and the color you see at the bottom means go.

It’s also common for color-blind individuals to have difficulty seeing the brightness of red and/or yellow lights, so they feel more cautious when approaching a stoplight intersection. 

If you find this to be true, it may make more sense to look at the location of the lights (red at the top, yellow in the middle, green at the bottom) rather than worry about the colors.

As you shop

Shopping for clothing can require some creativity, especially when trying to match separates. Luckily, there are certain apps you can use to help determine the shade of clothing. 

Then, when you get them home, you can label your clothes and arrange your closet to fit a color scheme, which will make dressing that much easier. Either ask a trusted friend to help you, or arrange by the colors you see; even if you don’t have a name for the color, your clothing will still be sorted in order of similar shades and tones.

While at the grocery store, use smell and touch to determine ripeness rather than color. And again, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Your friendly produce-aisle employee should point you in the right direction or assist you in making a good selection. 

SEE ALSO: Color blind tests: Do you see colors as they really are?

At work

Speaking up in the workplace is also beneficial if you are color blind. Colorful charts and graphs can make following a presentation difficult. But, Microsoft has tools for designing color-blind-friendly PowerPoint slides. 

And, don’t forget the whiteboard — ask that people use a black marker instead of colored markers. 

At home

If your child is color blind, you can organize dresser drawers by color. Dedicate each drawer to a specific color, and label them accordingly. That way your child will know which shirts match which pants.

When it comes to cooking, avoid relying on color to determine if something is done. Use a thermometer to get a more accurate read. 

And, at the end of the day, figure out what works best for you. Talk to friends or family who may also be color blind or join a support group (e.g., this color-blind chat group on Facebook has 1,500 members who undoubtedly have similarly helpful questions, concerns and advice). 

Don’t hesitate to try different driving, shopping, organizational and cooking methods till you find what enables you to get through each day more effortlessly and comfortably.

RELATED READING: Types and causes of color blindness

Celebrities with color blindness

Of course, there are a number of popular stars with color blindness. Colors can affect everything from home decorating to lunch — here’s how these celebrities with color blindness have made the best of their condition:

Fred Rogers: Always ask about the soup

When in doubt, ask your coworkers for help. Legend has it that Mr. Rogers once asked a colleague to help him distinguish between pea and tomato soup by tasting it for him, since he couldn’t easily tell himself. 

Another piece of trivia: Rogers was red-green color blind, meaning he also never saw the “true” color of his signature cardigan. 

Howie Mandel: Focus on your strengths

Some parts of interior decorating are best left to the experts. Color-blind comedian Howie Mandel once worked as a carpet salesman. Now his wife makes most color-scheme-related decisions around the house.

“She’ll never do anything in the house without asking me, but I’m color blind, so when I make a choice, I’m told that it clashes,” he said in a Good Housekeeping interview. Mandel explained that his wife still wants him to feel involved in the decision making, despite his inability to see colors as vividly.

Tip: Home decorating goes beyond color schemes! Lend your focus to arranging books, furniture, frames and knick knacks, and leave the color coordination to a trusty roommate, spouse or friend.

Eddie Redmayne: Seek out fashion advice

Actor Eddie Redmayne has admitted that he relies on his girlfriend to help choose matching clothes for him before an event.

The only color Redmayne can see clearly in his wardrobe is blue, a color that he describes as “emotional.” In fact, it inspired his Cambridge University dissertation on Yves Klein, an artist who is known for using blue in his work.

“I’m color blind, but I can pick out that blue anywhere,” he told W Magazine. “I wrote 30,000 words on this color, and I never grew tired of it. The pigment is staggering.”

Some other color-blind celebrities include Bill Clinton, Mark Zuckerberg, Keanu Reeves, Prince William, Rod Stewart and Meat Loaf.

Are color-blind glasses worth it?

Color-blind corrective glasses or contact lenses can enhance color perception, but they do not cure color blindness. Our tip here: Consult your eye doctor before making any purchases.

If you are color blind or think you have a color vision deficiency, your best bet is to see an eye doctor to determine if color-blind glasses are the right solution for you. 

READ NEXT: Contacts for color blindness

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