Colourblind glasses: Help for the colourblind?
In the past, if your optician told you that you had colourblindness, there wasn't much that could be done about it.
Most likely, you were told that being colourblind was a genetic condition and would not change, and that you probably should avoid tasks or professions that require accurate colour vision.
But with the development of colourblind glasses, that advice may now change.
What are colourblind glasses?
Colourblind glasses are spectacles with specially tinted lenses that help a person with colour vision deficiency see colours more accurately.
Though colourblind glasses will not "cure" colourblindness, they give colourblind individuals an opportunity to see the world more accurately and experience a greater spectrum of colours while wearing the glasses.
Colourblind glasses also have very practical applications, such as helping a colourblind person choose and match the colours and patterns of their clothes (reducing the risk of odd colour choices and mismatched colours). Wearing colourblind glasses also might widen the career opportunities for someone with colourblindness.
Brands and cost
Currently, the most popular brand of colourblind glasses is made by EnChroma.
EnChroma glasses were developed by Andrew Schmeder, a University of California, 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 colour vision deficiencies is an abnormal overlapping response to light by specialised 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 colourblindness."
To compensate for this abnormal overlap response, EnChroma lenses contain proprietary optical materials that selectively remove particular wavelengths of light exactly where the overlap is occurring. The result: More accurate colour perception because the brain can now better distinguish red wavelengths from green wavelengths.
EnChroma provides a colourblind test on its website to test your colour vision, and EnChroma glasses are available for purchase directly from the site.
EnChroma glasses cost from approximately £190 for styles with non-prescription lenses, and fro around £360 for styles with prescription corrective lenses (single vision or progressive lenses).
Another option for colourblind glasses is the ColorCorrection System, developed by Dr. Thomas Azman, a Maryland optician. This is a trademarked system of customised filters that change the wavelength of each colour that goes into your eyes, according to Dr. Azman.
ColorCorrection filters are uniquely designed for each colourblind individual and can be applied to contact lenses as well as eyeglasses, according to the company's website. You can learn more about the ColorCorrection System by visiting colormax.org.
People with colour vision deficiencies who try colourblind glasses for the first time often are amazed by what they see. Typically, they immediately see a broader array of colours and greater vibrancy of colours than what was "normal" for them without the glasses.
According to EnChroma, as many as 80% of people with colour vision problems may be helped by the company's lens technology. But each person's colour vision deficiency is unique, and so is their reaction to colourblind glasses.
THINK COLOURBLIND GLASSES MIGHT HELP YOU? Find an optician near you and ask about your options.
Page updated July 2020