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Are there any benefits to being color blind?

Color blindness, also known as color vision deficiency, is the decreased ability to see color or differences between colors. It affects around 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women globally. While it is often seen as a disadvantage, there are some potential benefits associated with being color blind.

Difficulty Distinguishing Certain Colors

People with color blindness have trouble distinguishing between certain colors. The most common type is red-green color blindness, where it’s hard to tell the difference between reds, greens, browns, and oranges. Another type is blue-yellow color blindness, where blues and yellows appear similar. In total color blindness, also known as achromatopsia, the world appears in shades of gray.

This makes some daily tasks more challenging. Choosing clothing, reading colored graphs, noticing traffic lights, and viewing displays can be affected. Certain careers involving color discrimination are unsuitable as well, such as graphic design, photography, and aviation.

Enhanced Night Vision

Some research has suggested that certain types of color blindness may confer enhanced night vision abilities. One study found that people with red-green color blindness could see better in dim light compared to those with normal color vision.

This is thought to be because the eyes of people with color blindness are more sensitive to light due to the abnormal cone cells. The tradeoff is worse daytime vision and inability to discriminate between some colors.

Improved Ability to Notice Camouflage

There is evidence that people with color blindness may be better able to spot camouflaged objects. This is likely related to their brains’ compensatory dependence on differences in luminosity rather than hue to distinguish objects.

Studies have found improved camouflage detection in subjects with red-green color blindness compared to those with normal vision. This ability could have benefits for hunting or activities where seeing concealed objects is important.

Possible Protection Against Color Confusion

Having color blindness may prevent susceptibility to certain color illusions or confusion. Optical illusions and misleading color formats in charts, graphs, and diagrams can fool people with normal color vision.

However, those with color blindness will either not experience the illusion or won’t be misled in the same way. While they have difficulty distinguishing some colors, this selective deficiency protects against visual confusion from color-based tricks.

Lower Distraction

The muted color world experienced by those with color blindness may also translate to fewer distractions. Surrounding colors that can be vivid or attention-grabbing to some may not have the same effect on those who don’t perceive them in full intensity.

This could allow increased focus or concentration for certain tasks or activities. The diversity of colors most people see could potentially be distracting or overstimulating for some.

Possible Advantages in Spotting Ripe Fruit

There is some indication that people with color blindness may be better at detecting when fruit is ripe. A study found that color blind subjects were able to more accurately sort ripe bananas from unripe, green ones compared to normally sighted individuals.

Researchers theorized this was because color blind people learned to use visual cues besides color, like texture and reflectance, to judge ripeness. This skill could translate to other foods as well.


While color blindness has drawbacks, there are some potential benefits as well. Enhanced night vision, improved camouflage detection, protection against certain optical illusions, reduced distraction, and possible advantages in spotting ripe fruit have been proposed.

However, most of these possible benefits require more extensive research to conclusively prove and measure. The disadvantages of color blindness likely outweigh any advantages for most people in everyday life. But understanding positives in addition to difficulties can lead to greater adaptation and success.

Type of Color Blindness Colors Affected
Red-Green Reds, Greens, Browns, Oranges
Blue-Yellow Blues, Yellows
Total Color Blindness (Achromatopsia) All Colors