St. Luke's Hospital
Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
Find a Physician Payment Options Locations & Directions
Follow us on: facebook twitter Mobile Email Page Email Page Print Page Print Page Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size Font Size
America's 50 Best Hospitals
Meet the Doctor
Spirit of Women
Community Health Needs Assessment
Home > Health Information

Multimedia Encyclopedia

    Print-Friendly
    Bookmarks

    Color blindness

    Color deficiency; Blindness - color

    Color blindness is the inability to see certain colors in the usual way.

    Causes

    Color blindness occurs when there is a problem with the color-sensing granules (pigments) in certain nerve cells of the eye. These cells are called cones. They are found in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of tissue that lines the back of the eye.

    If just one pigment is missing, you may have trouble telling the difference between red and green. This is the most common type of color blindness. If a different pigment is missing, you may have trouble seeing blue-yellow colors. People with blue-yellow color blindness usually have problems identifying reds and greens, too.

    The most severe form of color blindness is achromatopsia. A person with this rare condition cannot see any color, so they see everything in shades of gray. Achromatopsia is often associated with lazy eye, nystagmus (small, jerky eye movements), severe light sensitivity, and extremely poor vision.

    Most color blindness is due to a genetic problem. (See: X-linked recessive) About 1 in 10 men have some form of color blindness. Very few women are color blind.

    The drug hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) can also cause color blindness. It is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, among other conditions.

    Symptoms

    Symptoms vary from person to person, but may include:

    • Trouble seeing colors and the brightness of colors in the usual way
    • Inability to tell the difference between shades of the same or similar colors

    Often, the symptoms may be so mild that some people do not know they are color blind. A parent may notice signs of color blindness when a child is learning his or her colors.

    Rapid, side-to-side eye movements (nystagmus) and other symptoms may occur in severe cases.

    Exams and Tests

    Your doctor or eye specialist can check your color vision in several ways. Testing for color blindness is commonly done during an eye exam.

    Treatment

    There is no known treatment. However, there are special contact lenses and glasses that may help people with color blindness tell the difference between similar colors.

    Outlook (Prognosis)

    Color blindness is a lifelong condition. Most people are able to adjust to it without difficulty or disability.

    Possible Complications

    People who are colorblind may not be able to get a job that requires the ability to see colors accurately. For example, electricians (color-coded wires), painters, fashion designers (fabrics), and cooks (using the color of meat to tell whether it's done) need to be able to see colors accurately.

    When to Contact a Medical Professional

    Make an appointment with your health care provider or ophthalmologist if you think you (or your child) have color blindness.

    References

    Adams AJ, Verdon WA, Spivey BE. Color vision. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Foundations of Clinical Ophthalmology 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 19.

    Berson EL. Visual function testing: clinical correlations. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Foundations of Clinical Ophthalmology 15th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2009:chap 14.

    Wiggs JL. Molecular genetics of selected ocular disorders. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 1.2.

    Sieving PA, Caruso RC. Retinitis pigmentosa and related disorders. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, Mo: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 6.10.

    BACK TO TOP

          A Closer Look

            Self Care

              Tests for Color blindness

              Review Date: 6/1/2011

              Reviewed By: Linda J. Vorvick, MD, Medical Director, MEDEX Northwest Division of Physician Assistant Studies, University of Washington, School of Medicine; and Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.

              The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
              adam.com

              A.D.A.M. content is best viewed in IE9 or above, Fire Fox and chrome browser.


              Back  |  Top
              About Us
              Contact Us
              History
              Mission
              Locations & Directions
              Quality Reports
              Annual Reports
              Honors & Awards
              Community Health Needs
              Assessment

              Newsroom
              Services
              Brain & Spine
              Cancer
              Heart
              Maternity
              Orthopedics
              Pulmonary
              Sleep Medicine
              Urgent Care
              Women's Services
              All Services
              Patients & Visitors
              Locations & Directions
              Find a Physician
              Tour St. Luke's
              Patient & Visitor Information
              Contact Us
              Payment Options
              Financial Assistance
              Send a Card
              Mammogram Appointments
              Health Tools
              My Personal Health
              mystlukes
              Spirit of Women
              Health Information & Tools
              Clinical Trials
              Health Risk Assessments
              Employer Programs -
              Passport to Wellness

              Classes & Events
              Classes & Events
              Spirit of Women
              Donate & Volunteer
              Giving Opportunities
              Volunteer
              Physicians & Employees
              For Physicians
              Remote Access
              Medical Residency Information
              Pharmacy Residency Information
              Physician CPOE Training
              Careers
              Careers
              St. Luke's Hospital - 232 South Woods Mill Road - Chesterfield, MO 63017 Main Number: 314-434-1500 Emergency Dept: 314-205-6990 Patient Billing: 888-924-9200
              Copyright © St. Luke's Hospital Website Terms and Conditions  |  Privacy Policy  |  Patient Notice of Privacy Policies PDF Sitemap St. Luke's Mobile