Color blindness — or more accurately, poor or deficient color vision — is an inability to see the difference between certain colors. Though many people commonly use the term “color blind” for this condition, true color blindness — in which everything is seen in shades of black and white — is rare.
Color blindness is usually inherited. Men are more likely to be born with color blindness. Most people with color blindness can’t distinguish between certain shades of red and green. Less commonly, people with color blindness can’t distinguish between shades of blue and yellow.
Certain eye diseases and some medications also can cause color blindness
You may have a color vision deficiency and not know it. Some people figure out that they or their child has the condition when it causes confusion — such as when there are problems differentiating the colors in a traffic light or interpreting color-coded learning materials.
People affected by color blindness may not be able to distinguish:
Different shades of red and green
Different shades of blue and yellow
The most common color deficiency is an inability to see some shades of red and green. Often, a person who is red-green or blue-yellow deficient isn’t completely insensitive to both colors. Defects can be mild, moderate or severe.
When to see a doctor
If you suspect you have problems distinguishing certain colors or your color vision changes, see an eye doctor for testing. It’s important that children get comprehensive eye exams, including color vision testing, before starting school.
There’s no cure for inherited color deficiencies, but if illness or eye disease is the cause, treatment may improve color vision.
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