Colour Blindness Causes, Risk Factors, Prevention And Treatment


The inability to distinguish between specific colours is known as colour blindness, or more precisely, weak or defective colour vision. Even while the phrase "colour blind" is frequently used to describe this disease, it is uncommon for someone to really be colour blind, and only see in black and white.

Most often, colour blindness runs in families. Men are more likely than women to be colour blind from birth. Most colour blind persons are unable to discern between specific red and green hues. Less frequently, those who are colour blind are unable to discriminate between blue and yellow hues.

Colour blindness can also be brought on by specific eye conditions and some drugs.


The intricate process of seeing colours across the light spectrum starts with your eyes' capacity to react to various light wavelengths.

All colour wavelengths of light enter your eye through the cornea, travel through the lens and translucent, jelly-like tissue in your eye (vitreous humour), and then arrive at wavelength-sensitive cells; (Cones) are located in the retina's macular area near the rear of your eye. Short (blue), medium (green), and long (red) light wavelengths all affect how sensitive the cones are. When certain chemicals in the cones react, your optic nerve transmits the wavelength information to your brain.

You can see colour if your eyes are healthy. You will not be able to differentiate the wavelengths if your cones do not include one or more wavelength-sensitive compounds.

There are several reasons of colour blindness:

Inherited disorder. Males than females are far more likely to have inherited colour deficits. Red-green insufficiency is the most frequent colour deficit, while blue-yellow deficiency is significantly less frequent. It is uncommon to be completely colour blind.

A mild, moderate, or severe form of the condition can be inherited. Both of your eyes are often affected by inherited colour deficits, and the degree does not alter over time.

Diseases. Sickle cell anaemia, diabetes, macular degeneration, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Parkinson's disease, persistent alcoholism, and leukaemia are a few illnesses that can result in colour impairments. One eye may be more impacted than the other, and if the underlying condition can be addressed, the colour deficiency may improve.

Certain medications. Various pharmaceuticals, including those used to treat various autoimmune illnesses, heart conditions, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, infections, nerve disorders, and psychiatric issues, can affect how you see colour.

Ageing. As you become older, your capacity for colour vision steadily declines.

Chemicals. Exposure to several compounds at work, such as carbon disulfide and fertilisers, may cause loss of colour vision.

How to check if you have Colour Blindness?

Visit an eye doctor for testing if you feel you have trouble differentiating between specific colours or if your colour vision has changed. Before entering school, it is crucial that children undergo thorough eye exams that include colour vision tests.

Inherited colour deficits cannot be treated, but if a sickness or eye condition is to blame, therapy may help the patient see colours more clearly.

The inability to distinguish between hues is the primary sign of colour vision impairment.

Colour blindness can be present from birth or develop at any age.

You might not see any signs in your child if they have a colour vision deficit, but you might see your child exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Utilises the incorrect colours while painting or sketching, such as painting purple foliage on trees, struggles with color-sorting tasks, and shows little enthusiasm in colouring activities
  • Smells food before consuming it

Risk Factors

  • A family history of colour blindness increases your risk of developing the condition.
  • Have conditions that affect the eyes, such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration (AMD)
  • Possess certain health issues, such as diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, or multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Take certain medications.


You might not be aware that you have a colour vision impairment. When the condition causes confusion, such as when there are issues reading color-coded learning materials or identifying the colours in a traffic light, some people realise that they or their child has the condition.

People with colour blindness might not be able to tell apart:

  • Various red and green tones
  • Many hues of yellow and blue
  • Every colour

The inability to perceive some colours of red and green is the most prevalent colour blindness. A person with a red-green or blue-yellow deficiency is frequently not entirely blind to both colours. Defects might range from minor to severe.


Colour blindness, which is present from birth, cannot be prevented. However, you might be able to lower your risk of developing colour blindness in later life. Get routine eye examinations, visit your doctor frequently, and lead a healthy lifestyle. These might lessen your risk of acquiring colour blindness.


Except when the colour vision issue is caused by the use of specific medications or eye disorders, there are no therapies for the majority of colour vision issues. Better colour vision could be attained by stopping the medicine that's causing your vision issues or by managing the underlying eye condition.

Your ability to distinguish between the jumbled colours may be improved if you use coloured contact lenses or glasses with coloured filters. However, these lenses will not let you see more colours.

Future potential remedies

Gene replacement procedures may be used to treat some uncommon retinal illnesses linked to colour deficit. These remedies are being researched and might one day be made available.

  • Recall the placement of the coloured items. Learn the colour names in sequence if you need to know specific colours, like with traffic lights.
  • Color-matched objects should be marked with labels if possible. Have a color-vision expert assist you in classifying and labelling your apparel.
  • Place your clothing in your drawers or closet such that complementary hues are close to one another.
  • Employ technology. Apps for smartphones and other digital devices exist that can assist you in recognising colours.

Complications of Colour Blindness

Severe colour blindness can make it difficult to perform duties like properly reading traffic signs. To correct colour, specialised eyewear or contacts may be recommended. Severe colour blindness may prevent a person from doing tasks that call on colour discrimination.


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Page last reviewed: May 25, 2023

Next review due: May 25, 2025

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