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What are 3 symptoms of color blindness?

Color blindness, also known as color vision deficiency, is a condition that affects a person’s ability to distinguish between certain colors. It is one of the most common visual impairments, affecting around 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women globally. While complete color blindness (monochromacy) is rare, partial color blindness, or having difficulty distinguishing between some colors, is much more common. Here we will discuss some of the most common symptoms of color blindness.

Difficulty distinguishing between certain colors

The main symptom of color blindness is difficulty telling the difference between colors that would normally appear distinct. The most common form is red-green color blindness, where it’s hard to distinguish between reds, greens, browns, and oranges. For example, someone with red-green color blindness may confuse a red apple with a green apple, or have trouble telling whether a traffic light is red or green.

Other common types include blue-yellow color blindness, where it’s hard to tell blues from greens and purples from reds, and complete color blindness, where a person can only see in shades of gray. The specific colors that are problematic depend on the type and severity of color vision deficiency.

Difficulty identifying colors in dim lighting

Color blindness symptoms tend to get worse in dim lighting conditions. This is because the photoreceptor cells in the eye that detect color rely on adequate light levels. In dim conditions, those with color vision deficiency struggle even more to determine colors, and they may see little to no color at all.

For example, someone with red-green color blindness who is able to pass the color vision test outdoors during the day may fail the test when it is administered under dim indoor lighting. The reduced light makes it hard to distinguish subtle shades between red, green, brown, and orange.

Difficulty distinguishing colored text or graphics

People with color blindness often have trouble differentiating between colors used for text, graphics, maps, charts, and other visuals. For example, red text on a green background may appear indistinguishable from green text on a red background. Pie charts and bar graphs that rely on colors to convey meaning may also be confusing.

This symptom can cause difficulties with tasks like reading, learning concepts that rely on color-coding, interpreting statistical graphics, creating visual presentations, and more. It may lead to eyestrain headaches as well.

Other Possible Symptoms

In addition to the main symptoms above, there are a few other signs that can indicate color vision deficiency:

  • Difficulty identifying ripe fruit, vegetables, or meat based on color
  • Inability to detect warning signals in environment that rely on color (traffic lights, signage, etc)
  • Difficulty matching clothing colors
  • Difficulty with occupations/hobbies that rely on color (electrician, painter, photographer, graphic designer, etc)
  • Eye fatigue or headaches from overcompensating for color vision problems
  • Childhood difficulty learning colors or color-based concepts

Causes of Color Blindness

In most cases, color blindness is genetic and hereditary. It is passed on through abnormal X chromosomes. Color vision deficiency is much more prevalent in men than women because men only have one X chromosome. If that X chromosome carries the abnormal gene, they will be color blind. Women have two X chromosomes, so both would need to carry the gene in order to cause color blindness.

Other potential causes include:

  • Damage to the eyes, optic nerve, or parts of the brain that process color
  • Some medications
  • Aging
  • Other medical conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, or multiple sclerosis

Types of Color Blindness

There are three main types of color blindness:

Red-Green Color Blindness

This is the most common form, affecting about 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. There are different degrees of severity:

  • Protanomaly – Reduced sensitivity to red light
  • Protanopia – Inability to perceive red light
  • Deuteranomaly – Reduced sensitivity to green light
  • Deuteranopia – Inability to perceive green light

Blue-Yellow Color Blindness

This type affects blue and yellow tones. It includes:

  • Tritanomaly – Reduced sensitivity to blue light
  • Tritanopia – Inability to perceive blue light

Complete Color Blindness

Also known as monochromacy, complete color blindness is rare. A person can only see shades of gray.

Diagnosing Color Blindness

Color blindness is typically diagnosed using vision screening tests like:

  • Ishihara test – Identifying numbers hidden in colored dot patterns
  • Farnsworth D-15 test – Arranging color caps in order
  • Lantern test – Identifying colors illuminated by a lantern
  • Hardy-Rand-Ritter (HRR) test – Matching colored chips under different lighting

These screening tests can identify potential color vision deficiencies. More precise diagnosis requires additional ophthalmological exams.

Treatment for Color Blindness

Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for inherited color blindness. However, some adaptive technologies can help compensate:

  • Color filters – Filters placed over glasses or contact lenses to improve color perception.
  • Color identification apps – Apps that can identify colors from a camera image.
  • Text-to-speech software – Converts colored text to spoken words.
  • Color amplifying glasses – Enhances certain colors to increase contrast.

Additionally, occupational therapists can provide training in compensatory strategies. Teaching color name associations and awareness of situational cues can help manage color confusion.

Coping with Color Blindness

Though challenging, color blindness is manageable with some adaptations. Here are some tips for coping day-to-day:

  • Use patterns, shapes, and textures – not just color – for coding or identifying objects.
  • Label colors explicitly rather than relying on color-coding alone.
  • Pay attention to context clues like traffic light position or ripening produce fragrance.
  • Use an app or ask others to identify uncertain colors.
  • Rehearse color names frequently to strengthen mental associations.
  • Learn to coordinate outfits by memorizing which colors match.
  • Avoid occupations that rely heavily on color distinctions.
  • Advocate for accommodations at school or work, like colored overlays or text readers.

With some minor adjustments, it is possible to effectively navigate daily life with color blindness. Increased awareness and inclusive design practices are making it easier than ever before.


Color blindness is a common condition characterized by difficulty distinguishing between some colors. The main symptoms are trouble telling the difference between reds/greens, blues/yellows, or seeing only in shades of gray. This can make certain daily tasks challenging. However, through screening tests, adaptive tools, and coping strategies, it is possible to manage color vision deficiency. Increasing accessibility and inclusive color design can help make the world friendlier for the color blind among us.

Type Colors Affected Prevalence
Protanomaly Reds 1% of men
Protanopia Reds 1% of men
Deuteranomaly Greens 5% of men
Deuteranopia Greens 1% of men
Tritanomaly Blues 0.01% of population
Tritanopia Blues 0.01% of population
Monochromacy All Colors Rare