What is Colour Blindness and Can It Be Helped?

The vision deficiency “colour blindness“ has become an increasingly relevant topic for discussion in today’s world as the norm changes from the power of words to the importance of imagery. With nearly 5% of the world’s total population diagnosed with colour vision deficiency (CVD), it's important now more than ever to understand what exactly it is and how it can be prevented.

Originating in the late 18th century, the earliest known writings of CVD is by a gentleman named John Dalton, who was confused between the colours of scarlet, green, pink and blue. His assumption was that his vitreous humour was tinted blue, and therefore, selectively absorbing longer wavelengths thus, causing difficulty distinguishing between similar colours. After death, he requested that his eyes were dissected in order to conclude as to whether or not this vision deficiency was due to biological developments rather than a psychological issue. Upon dissection, it was found that his humour was in fact perfectly clear. It wasn’t until a later date that DNA extracted from Dalton’s eye was analysed further and it was concluded that his eye tissue showed that he was deuteranope, meaning that the part of the eye responsible for receiving the medium wavelength sensitive cones (green) are missing.

Is CVD developed or is it inherited?
Studies have shown that CVD can be caused by both factors, though inherited is significantly more common. The development of CVD can be due to a variety of causes: underlying health conditions such as diabetes, age-related macular degeneration etc, a side effect from medication including digoxin, ethambutol, chloroquine, hydroxychloroquine, phenytoin and sildenafil, as well as exposure to harmful chemicals, such as carbon disulphide and styrene.

Though CVD can be diagnosed and is in fact more relevant for older people, this is due to what professionals refer to as a “natural part in the ageing process” though we do recommend any impairment in vision requires speaking to your GP or doctor. In regards to CVD being inherited, it's known as an X-linked inheritance pattern and therefore, due to boys possessing more X chromosomes, it affects them more than girls. Despite this, CVD is interestingly carried by women as a recessive allele and thus, is only made dominant within the boys through development within the womb provide it is mixed with the chromosomes of a male who has confirmed CVD. This, however, is only the rough guide for the inheritance of CVD and cannot be treated as a certified establishment of cause and effect, CVD can often skip generations.

Can it be prevented?
Unfortunately, recent studies have proven that there is no way to fully prevent CVD. This can pose as a significantly prohibiting factor for a child with CVD in the education system, lack of correct vision can inhibit the understanding of information and as a result, can prevent the full academic success of the child. There are a wide variety of treatment options that can help overcome CVD in all age ranges. For children the best treatment possible is notifying the correct people, making schools and teachers aware of the condition can allow them to adapt their lessons or resources to cater for the vision deficiency, for example, specific coloured paper. In addition to this, ensuring that the home environment remains a place of visual safety is imperative, ensure that the lighting is of good quality as this will aid in the distinguishing of colours. The most successful treatment for those older is specially adapted glasses. Tinted glasses/ contact lenses are available, meaning that wearing will significantly aid the day to day goings of the individual.

How can we help prevent it?
Though we are unable to provide specially adapted glasses or contact lenses, they should be available with any good local opticians. As the evidence suggests, CVD is extremely more common in older people due to it being a “natural part of the ageing process” so our Macushield's can fight that ageing process. Formed from the original breakthrough formula, they are jammed packed with every vitamin, mineral and nutrient you need to maintain healthy eyes. Not only will they keep your eyes healthy, but their breakthrough formula is also a shield against damage caused by macular degeneration, hence the name Macushield.