Zietchick Research Institute: Update on Color Blindness - Somewhere To

Zietchick Research Institute: Update on Color Blindness

Zietchick Research Institute, a small company aimed to improve the eye health of children, wants to educate the public that most people, who describe themselves as color-blind, suffer from an inherited type of color vision deficiency that mainly affects reds and greens. Red-green color blindness also affects colors derived from these colors.  For example, the color purple is a combination of blue and red, and thus, the purple is also not be perceived normally. However, red-green deficiency does not affect perception of other colors such as blue and yellow.

Red-Green color blindness occurs in approximately 8% of boys. However, it occurs far less frequently in girls— less than 1% of the time.  “The reason for this”, says Dr. Movsas, Director of Zietchick Research Institute “is because the red-green colorblind gene is located on the X chromosome.  Boys (with XY chromosomes) are born color-blind if they receive only one copy of the color-blind gene. However, girls ( with XX chromosomes) need to receive 2 copies of the recessive color-blind gene to be born color blind. If girls receive only one defective X gene, their normal X chromosome compensates for it, and thus, they do not inherit a color-vision problem.”

Zietchick Research Institute explains that cones are light sensitive cells that help us perceive color. There are about 6 million cones in the eye and clustered in the macula, the fine focus area. Different types of cones are specialized to detect different wavelength groups of light. Red-Green color blindness results from a problem in two of the three cone types. In red-green colorblind individuals, there is too much of an overlap between the wavelengths detected by the M cones and L cones. This problem prevents color blind people from distinguishing between the light wavelengths representing the red and green spectrum.

Zietchick Research Institute wants to emphasize the importance of testing children for color blindness. It is important that color blind children do not get labelled as learning disabled because they cannot learn colors. Parents and teacher need to be aware that school exams should be adapted for color-blindness. There are smartphone and tablet apps designed for people with poor color vision. It is also important that colorblind individuals pay extra attention to traffic lights. They must pay close attention to the location of the light (red on top) for safety. There are other potential consequences of color blindness. For example, color blindness can also affect one’s ability to detect reddening of the skin due to sun overexposure

Zietchick Research Institute would like increase awareness that Enchroma lens technology is available to help some colorblind people. It works by filtering out wavelengths of light at the point where there is excessive overlap of M and L cones. Of important note, these glasses do not cure color blindness. However, while wearing the special lenses, some colorblind individuals experience greater contrast between red and green hues, causing these colors to appear more vibrant.  Color blind individuals should discuss these lenses with their eye care professionals to see if this may potentially benefit them.