General Practice 2022

Colorblindness: what é, symptoms, types and treatment

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Colorblindness: what é, symptoms, types and treatment
Colorblindness: what é, symptoms, types and treatment

Colorblindness is a vision disorder in which the person has difficulty or inability to distinguish some colors, mainly green and red. This alteration is in most cases genetic, however it can also arise as a result of lesions in the structure of the eyes or the neurons responsible for vision.

The diagnosis of color blindness, which is also known as dyschromatopsia or dyschromatopsia, is made by the ophthalmologist through tests that allow the assessment of the person's ability to differentiate colors.

Thus, the ophthalmologist can indicate the most appropriate treatment that can be done with the use of glasses for color blindness, for example, or lifestyle adaptations to have a life close to normal and without difficulties.

Main symptoms of color blindness

The main symptoms of color blindness are:

  • Difficulty distinguishing colors, being more common with green and red colors;
  • Difficulty or inability to tell the difference between shades of equal colors;
  • Sensitivity to light;
  • Difficulty perceiving the brightness of colors;
  • Headache or eye pain when looking at colors on different backgrounds, like green on red background, or red on green background, for example.

In children, color blindness can be perceived by family members or teachers at school, through some signs, such as difficulty, lack of attention or interest when reading colored pages, or drawing or coloring with wrong colors, for example.

These symptoms of color blindness can be mild, often going unnoticed by the person, but they can also be severe, and lead to uncontrolled side-to-side eye movements called nystagmus.

For this reason, it is important to consult an ophthalmologist so that color blindness can be diagnosed and the most appropriate treatment initiated, if necessary.

Why does it happen?

Colorblindness usually happens due to a genetic change on the X chromosome, which leads to difficulty or inability to perceive colors due to changes in the chemical substances of wavelength-sensitive cells, called cones, located in the back of the eyes, and which are responsible for activating reactions that send information about colors to the brain.

This genetic alteration is hereditary, which means that color blindness is more common to happen within the same family, since mutations in the X chromosome can be passed from parents to children, being more common to occur in boys, because they have only one X chromosome.

Also, although it is rarer, color blindness can also occur due to some he alth problems that can cause visual changes, such as glaucoma, macular degeneration, sickle cell anemia, multiple sclerosis or Parkinson's disease, or from use from medications such as phenytoin, natural aging of the body or exposure to chemicals such as carbon disulfide or toluene.

How to confirm the diagnosis

The diagnosis of color blindness is made by the ophthalmologist through the evaluation of symptoms, he alth history, family history of color blindness and the color test, which consists of identifying numbers or paths that are present in images with different color patterns.

Color tests, such as the Ishihara test or the Farnsworth test, allow the ophthalmologist to identify the degree of alteration and the type of color blindness. Check out all the color blindness tests that your doctor can do.

Main types of color blindness

According to the tests performed by the ophthalmologist and the person's ability to identify what is contained in the images, the doctor can confirm the diagnosis and indicate the type of color blindness that the person has, namely:

  • Achromatic color blindness: also known as monochromacy, is the rarest type of color blindness, in which the person sees in black, white and gray, not seeing other colors;
  • Dichromatic color blindness: the person does not have a color receptor and, therefore, cannot identify the colors red, green or blue;
  • Trichromatic color blindness: is the most common type, where the person has a slight difficulty in distinguishing colors as the person has all the color receptors but they do not work well. The colors that are usually affected are red, green and blue with their different shades.

The types of color blindness are classified according to the difficulty to see a certain set of colors, and should always be diagnosed by the ophthalmologist.

How the treatment is done

Colorblindness has no cure, however the treatment indicated by the ophthalmologist can improve the person's quality of life, and may be recommended:

1. ADD system to identify colors

Learning the color identification system called ADD is the best way to live with color blindness.This system catalogs each color with a symbol, helping the person who suffers from color blindness to 'see' colors, in a simple way, increasing their self-esteem and improving their quality of life.

While this system is not yet mandatory, what you can do is ask someone who is not colorblind to help you write the appropriate symbol on clothing and shoe tags, as well as pens and pencils color so that whenever the colorblind person sees the symbols they can identify their color.

The ADD coding system is similar to Braille language for the visually impaired and has been used in some countries.

2. Glasses for the color blind

A good way to live with colorblindness is to buy special colorblind glasses, which adjust the colors so that the colorblind person sees the colors as they really are.

There are 2 types of lenses, one of which is suitable for people who cannot see red colors, which is the Cx-PT model, and the other for those who cannot see green, which is the Cx-D model.However, a glasses that can be indicated for those who do not identify all colors have not yet been created.

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