Tackling the black and white issue and introducing the colorblind simulator.
Many myths and miss understandings surround those who are color blind – from not seeing color at all to seeing different colors entirely.
The National Eye Institute describes color blindness as a condition where individuals see colors differently than the majority of people - with it mainly being difficult to tell the difference between certain colors.
Color blindness affects approximately one in twelve men and one in two-hundred women. However, worldwide more than three-hundred-million people are living with color blindness (this is greater than the number of people who live in the United States).
Likewise, color blindness can also run in families – it is known that special color blind glasses can reduce the overall effect, however, to what extent is difficult to comprehend.
An individual may develop color blindness from birth, however, may also develop this later in life as a hereditary response of age.
What is color blindness?
Color blindness is a result of a lack of sensitivity within the light-sensitive cone cells in the eye(s). As the human eye contains millions of these tiny cone cells, any of these becoming slightly sensitive changes the output to the brain – affecting the colors in which we see.
The majority of people who are color blind have a color deficiency which is red-green color blindness. This is when the green and red-sensitive cone cells of the eye(s) overlap more than they are supposed to.
This red-green deficiency means the person sees the colors as very similar, almost ‘overlapping’ – this can make it very difficult to acknowledge the difference between these colors.
It is for this reason that those suffering from color blindness, especially the red-green deficiency cannot become electrical engineers or pilots – as seeing colors in the correct form is essential to your safety and others.
What about everyday color confusion?
Those who suffer from color blindness often result in color confusion in some manifestation or another throughout the day.
For example, it could be as simple as a mismatched outfit with two or more colors being too similar, difficulty interpreting color-coded maps or information, and even as extreme as driving.
The main problem here is traffic lights. As these operate on a red, orange, and green system color-blind drivers tend to look at the position of the lights rather than the colors – as these colors may blend into one another.
Therefore, the main problem arises when the position/set-up of these lights are slightly different than usual, perhaps driving through a new city or driving in a different country. As you can imagine, this can be very dangerous not only for the driver but for all other road users.
A colorblind driver may, therefore, go much slower on these lights to ensure safety of themselves and others – this is something to be wary of.
What different types of color deficiencies are there?
There are numerous different types of color deficiencies out there – some color blind people will suffer a handful of these while another may only suffer one or two.
These deficiencies include:
- Deutan color blindness
- Protan color blindness
- Tritan color deficiency
Firstly, deutan color blindness is the most common – this is the red-green deficiency we previously spoke about. However, in particular, deutan color blindness results in a green deficiency specifically.
Likewise, protan color blindness is also a red-green deficiency, however, the protan color blindness instead results in a red deficiency specifically.
Both the deutan and protan color blindness are the most common types of color blindness (as previously discussed). A color-blind individual who has a red-green deficiency may have both deutan and protan color blindness – this is why distinguishing between the two colors and shades can be rather challenging.
Thirdly, is the tritan color deficiency. This type of color deficiency usually occurs later in life as a result of age (of the eye) or a medical complication. This affects the blue light-sensitive cones in the eye (resulting in blues looking lighter and/or darker) – this often results in individuals being unable to distinguish between dark blues and blacks.
Finally, we have achromatopsia. This is the rarest form of color blindness and affects less than one percent of those living with color blindness or color deficiencies.
Achromatopsia is commonly referred to as “complete color blindness” – this is where individuals see the world in shades of black, white, and grey. However, achromatopsia is very rare, although when many hear the words “color blind” this is what they automatically assume.
As someone who doesn’t suffer from color blindness, it can be difficult to imagine what those suffering from the condition actually see.
Some people think all color blind people see black and white (this is less than 1%), when in fact it’s more of a color deficiency affecting reds, greens, browns, oranges, blues, purples, and yellows.
To greater understand how color blind people see the world, we recommend making use of this fantastic color blind simulator.
You can adjust different colors to how those with specific color deficiencies see these colors – it’s probably quite different from what you think.
The bottom line
Color blindness comes in many different forms and color deficiencies. Some of these can be more minor, while others a lot more serious and determinantal to everyday life such as achromatopsia (seeing the world in shades of black, white, and grey).
However, with that being said the most common form of color blindness is a red-green deficiency – this is where the two colors often overlap, making it difficult to distinguish the difference between the two.
Depending on how progressive one’s color blind deficiency results in how they see the world and how they interact with it. For example, those suffering from a red-green deficiency often have great trouble driving at traffic lights, especially when in a new location where the set-up of these lines is different.