Indistinct colours

Indistinct colours
Did you know that one in 12 men and one in 200 women across the world are bound to face difficulties with identifying or distinguishing colours and are labelled colour-blind? Contrary to the common belief, one has to understand that a person with colour blindness can actually perceive colour, but they appear washed out, are hard to distinguish and can easily be confused with other colours. Therefore, colour blindness is actually a misnomer. Nonetheless, it is not easy to live with it. Based on the severity, it poses a great deal of challenge and interferes with daily life.

A person with abnormal colour vision is especially disadvantaged in identifying man-made colour codes and naturally occurring colour codes (signs of ripeness in fruits, discerning their freshness or defect). It is a tedious task for colour-blind people to do a visual search that involves colour and they are found to be extremely slow to counteract to complex colour-involving visual displays.

Colour vision testing may either be aimed at screening, diagnosing the type and severity or suitability for a particular vocation or occupation. An all-fulfilling colour vision test is currently not available; however, based on the need for testing, an ophthalmologist or an optometrist can make the decision for the type of test to be performed.

Colour blindness can either be present from birth or can occur later in life due to conditions such as alcoholism, brain injury and ocular disorders such as cataract and age-related macular degeneration. Colour vision plays a pivotal role in our lives and its deficiencies based on its severity has implications and at times, makes it impossible for a person to involve in colour -demanding professions such as piloting air craft, painting and textile industries. It has been identified that colour blindness can cause devastating implications on an individual and society at large, when neglected and left undetected.

Unfortunately, no cure has been found for colour blindness. However, an optometrist can help these individuals in averting errors by prescribing “X-chrome” contact lenses, which are useful in enhancing the contrast of the background colours. Based on the type and severity of the colour vision deficiency, the optometrist can make suggestions on environmental modifications, which will help the affected person perform tasks more easily.

One can also benefit from the assistive device “Colorino” which is a talking colour identifier. Early and prompt identification of the colour blind will help impede the functional impact on the individual’s life by visual rehabilitation.

Appropriate and timely advice of an optometrist can help facilitate an easier lifestyle for a person with colour deficiency, and an appropriate referral of an identified person will help turn around the life of a fellow individual.

(The author is low vision specialist, LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad)

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