Chilton Medical Center - ATLANTIC HEALTH SYSTEM
Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)  font size
PrintEmail
Search Health Information   

Color blindness

Definition:

Color blindness is the inability to see certain colors in the usual way.



Alternative Names:

Color deficiency; Blindness - color



Causes:

Color blindness occurs when there is a problem with the pigments in certain nerve cells of the eye that sense color. These cells are called cones. They are found in the light-sensitive layer of tissue at the back of the eye, called the retina .

If just one pigment is missing, you may have trouble telling the difference between red and green. This is the most common type of color blindness. If a different pigment is missing, you may have trouble seeing blue-yellow colors. People with blue-yellow color blindness often have problems seeing reds and greens, too.

The most severe form of color blindness is achromatopsia. This is a rare condition in which a person cannot see any color, only shades of gray.

Most color blindness is due to a genetic problem . About 1 in 10 men have some form of color blindness. Very few women are color blind.

The drug hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil) can also cause color blindness. It is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other conditions.



Symptoms:

Symptoms vary from person to person, but may include:

  • Trouble seeing colors and the brightness of colors in the usual way
  • Inability to tell the difference between shades of the same or similar colors

Often, symptoms are so mild that people may not know they are color blind. A parent may notice signs of color blindness when a young child is first learning colors.

Rapid, side-to-side eye movements (nystagmus) and other symptoms may occur in severe cases.



Exams and Tests:

Your doctor or eye specialist can check your color vision in several ways. Testing for color blindness is a common part of an eye exam .



Treatment:

There is no known treatment. Special contact lenses and glasses may help people with color blindness tell the difference between similar colors.



Outlook (Prognosis):

Color blindness is a lifelong condition. Most people are able to adjust to it.



Possible Complications:

People who are colorblind may not be able to get a job that requires the ability to see colors accurately. For example, electricians painters, fashion designers and need to be able to see colors accurately.



Whe to Contact a Medical Professional:

Call your health care provider or ophthalmologist if you think you (or your child) have color blindness.



References:

Adams AJ, Verdon WA, Spivey BE. Color vision. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Foundations of Clinical Ophthalmology. 2012 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol. 2, chap 19.

Berson EL. Visual function testing: clinical correlations. In: Tasman W, Jaeger EA, eds. Duane's Foundations of Clinical Ophthalmology. 2012 ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2013:vol. 2, chap 14.

Wiggs JL. Molecular genetics of selected ocular disorders. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 1.2.

Sieving PA, Caruso RC. Retinitis pigmentosa and related disorders. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier; 2008:chap 6.10.




Review Date: 5/7/2013
Reviewed By: Franklin W. Lusby, MD, Ophthalmologist, Lusby Vision Institute, La Jolla, California. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
adam.com


Morristown Medical Center
100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center
99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center
175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center
97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Goryeb Children's Hospital
100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Atlantic Medical Group
1-800-247-9580

Morristown Medical Center

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Overlook Medical Center

99 Beauvoir Avenue
Summit, NJ 07901
908-522-2000

Newton Medical Center

175 High Street
Newton, NJ 07860
973-383-2121

Chilton Medical Center

97 West Parkway
Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
973-831-5000

Goryeb Children's Hospital

100 Madison Avenue
Morristown, NJ 07960
973-971-5000

Affiliated Providers

Atlantic Medical Group

More than 600 community-based health care providers.
1-800-247-9580

© 2015 Chilton Medical Center, 97 West Parkway, Pompton Plains, New Jersey 1-973-831-5000