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Growing up I knew my father was color blind. I always wondered what it was like to see the world through his eyes. I remember feeling sad when I thought about him not being able to see colors the way I could. There are so many different shades, tones, and hues of colors. Color can make our world seem magical. I came to realize; this was how my father always saw the world. He didn’t know anything else and learnt how to function without full color vision. As a young adult I went to the optometrist because I thought I might be short sited. Sure, enough I needed a mild prescription. I didn’t mention my family history of color blindness to my doctor. Later, I met and married my husband. As it turned out, my husband was also color blind. I didn’t understand how a person came to be color blind in the first place. My father had said something about a gene, but I thought only men could be color blind. It turns out, color blindness, for many cases, is hereditary. For others, it can be caused by diseases like diabetes, or simply caused by aging.
Finding out I carried the gene
It had been several years since I last visited my Optometrist, so I went in for a check up. I brought my husband and our son to the appointment. Our daughter was in school at the time. My husband’s color blindness came up during our visit, and I shared that my father was also color blind. This was when the Optometrist explained that I carried the gene. She said, color blindness is a common hereditary condition. My father’s X chromosome contained the Red/Green type of color blindness. If a father has this, it is automatically passed onto his daughter, since a female’s sex is determined by receiving an X chromosome from both mother and father. As a carrier, it means any of my children, male or female, have a 50% chance of being color blind. They will either receive my ‘X’ I inherited from my father or the one from my mother. We know the ‘X’ I received from my mother didn’t contain the gene. If it had, I would have been one, of the less than 1% of color-blind females. It is extremely rare for woman to be color blind, because both the father and mother must pass on the ‘X’ containing the gene. For an in depth explanation of how this works, check out this article.
Looking For Signs of Color Deficiency
Once we knew there was an increased likelihood any of our children could be color blind, it made us more aware. We would often test them on their colors, and they seemed to do very well. Our daughter could see a multitude of colors and different shades. Our son on the other hand made it difficult to know if he had colorblindness or simply memory issues. Sometimes he would mix up certain colors, while others he would get spot on. I honestly can’t tell you how we missed it for so long. It took until our son was 7 years old to realize he was color blind.
In kindergarten, they teach our children their colors by showing each individual color. This apple is red. The sky is blue. The grass is green. You get my point. Children can memorize what they are taught. My son never had a multitude of colors in front if him at school, where he had to discern between them. Even if they had done this, they likely would have used the same objects used to teach the colors individually. We made this mistake at home as well. When we were out and about, we would quiz him on his colors. We would say, “Hey Mr. D, (our nickname for our son) what color is that stop sign?”, his reply, “Red and white”, us, “Great”. We would say, “What color are the traffic lights?”, his reply “Red, green and yellow”, “Fantastic!” we would praise him. No problem with his color identification, right? We did this all the time when we were out, so how did we miss it? Our son had memorized the common objects and their colors that we quizzed him on. This unintentionally hid his condition from us.
Our Sons Diagnosis
Before this school year started, I went all out for the kids, buying all new school supplies. I bought both my school age kids the big variety packs of pencil crayons and markers. The ones with over 40 different shades. My daughter was super excited. She loves to draw, so she knew she would be able to draw amazing pictures. My son seemed just as excited. One day, my son’s teacher, who also taught him in kindergarten, pulled me aside after school. Something had happened during class. She had asked the students to take out a ‘green’ pencil crayon for their next activity. Poor Mr. D sat their and scoured through his pencil crayons. He was getting anxious. He didn’t know what to pick. His teacher saw him frantically searching and asked what was wrong. He said, he couldn’t find green. He asked, “Is this green?”, “Is that one green?”, she replied, “That one is brown and the other is green”. She tested him with a few more pencil crayons. He was mixing up his greens and browns. Once we got home, we did an online color blindness test and it showed my little boy was color blind after all.
We went to our Optometrist, so she could confirm this and give us a proper diagnosis, stating what type of color blindness he had, and how severe it was. As it turned out, he was “Deutan” or Red/Green colorblind. The Optometrist said his was not so severe, because he could still see some shades. He had the most difficult time differentiating camouflage colors, like greens, browns, and grays. He could see reds and blues easily. It’s the shades in between that are troublesome, like pink, purple and gray shades.
Living with A Color Deficiency
So here we are. I feel terrible for not finding out sooner. He must have struggled in silence for so many years. In school, teachers often use colors to organize activities, group things or even in writing exorcises. He told me he thought he wasn’t smart and that’s why he couldn’t tell colors apart or struggled in certain activities. Imagine going from JK-grade 2, thinking you were dumb? It’s honestly heartbreaking. I think he was so relieved to finally know and understand what was happening. I was able to share this news with his teacher and his school, so they will use other methods of teaching. Instead of using the common color code methods. The Optometrist said he may experience some difficulties growing up. He may have trouble learning, for example, a subject like chemistry, which requires color sightedness. He may have trouble driving and limited career choices. Many things taken for granted by color sighted people. Check out this link on “Living with Color Vision Deficiency“.
Advancements have been made by different companies, offering eyewear that helps with certain type of color blindness. I have read both positive and negative reviews on many of these glasses. I believe results vary based on the type, and level of color blindness. Two major competitors are Pilestone and Enchroma. Enchroma being a more “high-end” product. Many reviews, said Enchroma is quite expensive, when you can purchase a comparable version for less money from Pilestone. Pilestone also has a great return policy. If you don’t get the right pair, you can exchange them. In any case, you must purchase glasses specific to your type of color deficiency or they won’t work for you. To that end, I did a bit of research and found several pairs that had decent reviews.
I plan on purchasing this pair below for my son. They work for red/green moderate to severe color blindness. They had good reviews. I will let you know how they work out.
For Adults, I found this pair for red/green moderate to severe color blindness. It was both cost effective and had positive reviews. My husband might get a pair for Christmas 😉
With all of this in mind we will continue to work closely with our son and his school to ensure he has the best chances life has to offer. While this is a little scary and we don’t know what may arise in the future, I know we will always be there for our son. I am hopeful, regardless of Mr. D’s diagnosis, that he will have a wonderful life. Our youngest son is only 4 months old, so it’s still to soon to tell if he has full color vision or not. We will say our prayers and hope for the best. They both have two of the most amazing men in their lives they can look up to, who are living with color blindness. My father was a Program Analyst, for the government of Canada, since retired. And, my husband is a Manager, baker by trade. Both have found success, married, had children, and are living amazing lives. No matter what happens, I know the same will hold true for all my children.
Do you know anyone who is color blind? What have their experiences been like? Do you know of anything that can be done to help someone who is color blind? Or do you have any resources you can share? Please comment, like and share this post. I wish you all well 🙂