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What is Protanopia? | Bard Optical

What is Protanopia?

Woman with Protanopia

Color is the focal point of how we view our lives every day. It’s the visual representation of different waves of light.

But not everyone sees color the same way. Not all of us have the same view of the world. Some see colors in an altered way, and some don’t see color at all.

There are a variety of conditions that affect the way we see color, all of which live under the umbrella of color blindness.

Protanopia is one such condition.

Protanopia is the scientific term for the condition commonly known as red-green color blindness.

To understand protanopia, we first have to understand that it’s only one side of the red-green color blindness coin.

Protanopia Or Protanomaly?

These two conditions are as close in the description as they are in name, except for one important key factor.

First, let’s understand what part of our eyes is affected by protanopia.

To see color, we have three different types of cones in our eyes. These cones are the short-wavelength, medium-wavelength, and long-wavelength cones.

Protanopia and protanomaly both deal with the long-wavelength cones, or L-cones. The difference between the two is simply to what extent the L-cone is affected.

Protanopia is when the L-cone is completely missing, and the affected person is completely unable to perceive the colors red and green.

Protanomaly, on the other hand, means the L-cone is present but impaired.

The affected person’s ability to perceive red and green is directly correlated to how impaired the L-cone is.

What Does Red-Green Color Blindness Look Like?

Now that we know what parts of your eye are affected by protanopia and protanomaly, how does it affect us on a day-to-day basis?

Those with protanopia cannot see the color red, and it appears black to them. Additionally, some shades of orange, yellow, and green all appear yellow and are unable to be distinguished.

People with protanomaly are able to see the color red in general, but unable to distinguish different shades of red, orange, and yellow, and they appear greener. Additionally, most colors appear less bright.


Protanopia is more common in males (8%) than it is in females (0.5%) due to genetics.

Red-green colorblindness is carried on the X chromosome. This means that this trait can only be passed from mother to son, mother to daughter, or mother and father to daughter.

Since males only inherit one X chromosome directly from the mother, a son that gains the trait from a carrier mother will be red-green colorblind.

What’s more, a daughter with a non-carrier father that inherits the trait from a carrier mother will have normal color vision but will be a carrier of the trait.

Lastly, a daughter who inherits the trait from both a carrier mother and carrier father will develop red-green colorblindness, which explains why red-green colorblindness is so much rarer in females than males.

When you are discussing protanopia, it is important to understand the key difference between it and protanomaly.

Color blindness as a whole is a condition that affects millions of people’s everyday lives. Knowing the signs, and understanding the condition as a whole can help you cope with and adapt to your colorblindness.

Whether you live with the completeness of protanopia, or the subtleness of protanomaly, stay in the know and in tune with your eyes, and as always talk to your eye doctor if you think either of these conditions is affecting you.

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