The American Optometric Association estimates that, between males and females, 8.5% of Americans currently suffer from red-green color blindness, the most common type of colorblindness in the world.
Whether it is inherited, or acquired through an injury to the eyes, you probably know someone who lives with colorblindness.
Developed in 2010 and released in 2012, EnChroma sought to provide color-correcting glasses that would change the way those with color-blindness see. Since then, EnChroma and their competitors have changed the lives of millions of color-blind people, but how does it work? How can a pair of tinted sunglasses seemingly “cure” color-blindness?
The Science Behind It
Understanding color-blind glasses means understanding how color-blindness happens in the human eye, so here are the basics of color-blindness:
The human eye contains three different receptors located inside the retina, called ‘cones’, that are each sensitive to a different range of colors. These cones determine how much red, green and blue are in the objects we see, and then send that information to the brain for us to perceive.
However, if you don’t have enough photo-pigment inside these cones they can give an inaccurate reading of the color of the objects you see. Most often the defective cones are the red and green ones, where the red cone will provide a stronger reading of the reds than are truly in an object, effectively negating or altering the greens in the object, hence the term red-green colorblind.
Color-blind glasses simply work to change the saturation of the objects viewed through them, saturating the objects heavier towards the colors that your eyes have trouble perceiving. This serves to compensate for the missing colors, and helps your brain perceive the object as if there was no defect in your eyes at all.
Effectiveness of Color-Blind Glasses
Since color-blind glasses are still a recent development, there is still a lot of testing to be done to determine their range of effectiveness. A study conducted in 2017 between 10 participants resulted in only 2 reporting significant color improvement. While this study is still preliminary, it seems to show that the range of color-blind glasses’ effectiveness is somewhat limited.
EnChroma also released a statement saying that those with complete color blindness will not be affected by their product, as you need to be able to perceive some color in order for EnChroma glasses to be able to enhance and correct it.
Ultimately, the jury is still out on whether color-blind glasses truly are the future of color-blindness correction, as there is still a plethora of research to be done. One thing is for sure, when it comes to improving such a common condition, color-blind glasses are on the right path, as EnChroma has vowed to continue their journey in positively impacting the estimated 300 million people worldwide affected by color-blindness through the improvement of their glasses.
If you, or someone you know, is interested in trying color-blind glasses to alleviate your color-blindness, talk to your eye doctor about the right path to take today!