It used to be that if your optician told you that you were colourblind, you could not do much about it.
You were probably told that colourblindness is a genetic condition and cannot be changed, and that you should avoid tasks and professions that require accurate colour vision.
In light of the development of colourblind glasses, this advice may now need to be revised.
What are colourblind glasses?
Spectacles with colorblind lenses are designed to enhance the color perception of people who suffer from colour blindness.
While colourblind glasses will not “cure” colourblindness, they will give colourblind individuals the opportunity to see the world more accurately and experience a greater spectrum of colors.
The use of colourblind glasses has many practical applications, including assisting a colourblind individual in choosing and matching the colours and patterns of their clothing (reducing the risk of choosing odd colours and mismatching them). Furthermore, colourblind glasses may broaden a person’s career options.
Brands and cost
EnChroma is currently the most popular brand of colourblind glasses.
It was Andrew Schmeder, PhD, a mathematician trained at the University of California, Berkeley, who developed EnChroma glasses 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 known as cone photoreceptors. A red-green colourblind person is most commonly affected by this problem because their cone cells are normally sensitive to either red or green wavelengths of light.
The EnChroma lenses contain proprietary optical materials which selectively remove particular wavelengths of light exactly where the overlap occurs in order to compensate for this abnormal overlap response. As a result, the brain is able to better distinguish between red and green wavelengths, resulting in more accurate colour perception.
To test your colour vision, EnChroma offers a colourblind test on its website, and EnChroma glasses are available for purchase online.
For styles with non-prescription lenses, EnChroma glasses cost approximately £190; for styles with prescription lenses (single vision or progressive lenses), they cost approximately £360.
The ColorCorrection System, developed by Dr. Thomas Azman, a Maryland optician, is another option for colourblind glasses. The ColorCorrection System is a trademarked system of customised filters that adjusts each colour’s wavelength as it enters the eye.
According to the company’s website, ColorCorrection filters can be applied to both contact lenses and eyeglasses and can be customized for each colourblind individual.
A person with colour vision deficiencies who attempts to see with colourblind glasses for the first time is generally surprised by what they see. Typically, they observe a broader range of colors and a greater vibrancy of colors than what they would perceive without the glasses.
Approximately 80% of people with colour vision problems may benefit from EnChroma’s lens technology, but each person’s colour vision problem and reaction to colourblind glasses is unique.