Color Blindness in Humans, Research Paper Example


Color blindness is a disorder that is not very common. However, it continues to be a problem for many people in our society. Colorblindness is a disorder where it is difficult for a person to see one or more colors such as blue, green, and red or when these colors form as a mixture to them. This paper will discuss the current status, causes, identification of colorblindness, ethical issues, treatments and medications in order to help the audience understand the components of colorblindness and how it affects so many people. It is important to understand all of these components in order to find specific treatments and even possibly a cure for colorblindness. This research study provides the information we need in order to gain an understanding of the disorder so that we may take the steps to correct the issues.

Color blindness is becoming more and more prominent in our society today. There are more children being born with vision deficiencies than ever before.

Color blindness is most closely defined by the following:

Color blindness, a human disorder, makes a human lose the ability to see one of the following three colors: red, blue, green, or color resulting from mixing together. Situations where the person cannot see colors at all are very rare. One of the most important causes of color blindness is a genetic factor (gene), such as a person born with an injury (“Color Vision Deficiency”, 2013, n.p.).

“Color vision deficiencies are a group of conditions that affect the perception of color” (“Color Vision Deficiency, 2013, n.p.). According to the article entitled “Color Vision Deficiency” (2013), “these conditions are divided into three major categories:  Red-green color vision defects are the most common form of color vision deficiency. Red-green color defects are the most common while blue-yellow color defects are a little less common and the complete absence of color vision is extremely rare (“Color Vision Deficiency,” 2013). Males tend to be affected by red-green color vision defects more than females whereas the blue-yellow vision defects are common in males and females equally (“Color Vision Deficiency,” 2013). In addition, “complete achromatopsia affects an estimated 1 in 30,000 people” (“Color Vision Deficiency,” 2013, n.p.). This shows us that it is a lot less common than others. To further explain, the retina “contains two types of light receptor cells called rods and cones” (“Color Vision Deficiency,” 2013, n.p.). It is the responsibility of these cells to transmit specific visual signals from the eye to the brain. The rods discussed here are used to help the individual see in low light whereas the cones are responsible for helping the individual see bright light (“Color Vision Deficiency,” 2013). It is important to discuss the current status and causes, ways in which to identify whether a person is colorblind, ethical issues, current treatments, and medications so that many can understand the critical emphasis on color deficiencies.

According to the article “Causes and Incidence of Colorblindness” (n.d.), people that experience normal color perception have three different types of cones in order to help them see the specific colors. “Each type of cone is tuned to perceive predominantly long wavelengths (reddish), middle wavelengths (greenish), or short wavelengths (bluish), referred to as L-, M-, and S- cones” (“Causes and Incidence of Colorblindness,” n.d., p. 1). Individuals with colorblindness are missing one or more of these cones and it causes them to not be able to perceive the colors that they are seeing. The current status of individuals with colorblindness in today’s society include “approximately 5% to 8% of men and 0.5% of women” (“Causes and Incidence of Colorblindness,” n.d., p. 1). These do not seem like large numbers, but the numbers do continue to rise. As it becomes more prevalent, there are more and more causes for colorblindness.

In most instances, colorblindness is congenital. However, there are instances when a person is injured as a result of an accident or a diseases is the cause for a person developing colorblindness (“Causes and Incidence of Colorblindness,” n.d.). “In this case, the color deficiency is caused by disruption to the neutral pathways between the eye and the vision centers of the brain, rather than by loss of cone function in the eye” (“Causes and Incidence of Colorblindness,” n.d., p. 1). Unfortunately, most people inherit the colorblindness during birth.

“Causes and Incidence of Colorblindness” (n.d.) explains the inheritance of the anomalous trichromacy very well in the following paragraph:

Protanomaly and deutanomaly (sometimes referred to as red-green colorblindness) are caused by anomalies in the X chromosome. Since women have two X chromosomes while men have an X chromosome and a Y chromosome, this colorblindness is much more common in men; women must have defects in both chromosomes before they exhibit this colorblindness. However, because the gene is recessive, a woman who is not colorblind, but has a colorblindness defect in one X chromosome, is a carrier of this colorblindness (2).

In summary, it is easier for a male to be colorblind than it is for a female due to the fact that they only have one X chromosome. Women have to have defects in both X chromosomes in order to be colorblind and this is much less likely to occur. Color vision deficiency is most closely related to mutations in specific genes. These genes include the CNGA3, CNGB3, GNAT2, OPN1LW, OPN1MW, and OPN1SW (“Color Vision Deficiency,” 2013). According to the article “Color Vision Deficiency,” (2013), “genetic changes involving the OPN1LW and OPN1MW genes cause red-green color vision defects” (n.p.). The cause for blue-yellow color vision defects result from the genetic changes in the OPN1SW genes (“Color Vision Deficiency,” 2013). In addition, “changes in the CNGA3, CNGB3, and GNAT2 genes are responsible for achromatopsia” (“Color Vision Deficiency,” 2013, n.p.). Achromatopsia is where the individual is not able to distinguish color at all. Finally, the article “Color Vision Deficiency,” (2013) helps us understand the last form of colorblindness in a little more detail in the following paragraph:

A particular form of incomplete achromatopsia, called blue cone monochromacy, occurs when genetic changes prevent both L and M cones from functioning normally. People with this condition have only S cones. Because the brain must compare input from at least two types of cones to detect color, people who have only functional S cones have very poor color vision (n.p.).

However, genetics, as stated before, are not the only reason in which people develop colorblindness. There are many more and these should be discussed in some detail as well.

The article “Color Vision Deficiency” (2013) states that “some problems with color vision deficiency are not caused by gene mutations (n.p.). Eye disorders are a common cause of colorblindness as well. “Specifically, acquired color vision deficiencies can result from diseases involving the retina, the nerve that carries visual information from the eye to the brain (the optic nerve), or areas of the brain involved in processing visual information (“Color Vision Deficiency, 2013, n.p.). The causes and current status of this disorder have been discussed in great detail, but it is also good to know how to detect whether a person really is colorblind. In order to do this, most doctors use color blindness tests.

Doctors use specific tests in order to determine whether a person has vision problems and whether that person is truly color blind. According to Linda Vorvick, Franklin W. Lusby, and David Zieve (2011), “Usually Isihara (pseudoisochromatic) plates are used to test color vision. They are made of dot patterns composed of primary colors. These dot patterns represent a symbol that is superimposed on a background of randomly mixed colors. The test can determine certain abnormalities in a person’s color vision” (n.p.).  The picture below is an example of a standard test used in order to determine if a person is color blind.

standard test used in order to determine if a person is color blind

This is just one test that many doctors use. There are many others that are capable of determining colorblindness, its severity, and how it is going to impact a person’s life. Individuals with colorblindness have to deal with a majority of issues due to this disease. However, most importantly, others have to be careful of what they do and how they treat these individuals in ethical manners.

Ethical issues that need to be observed and applied to individuals with colorblindness can be seen throughout many facets of daily life including education and employment. It is normal for schools to begin teaching children using colors at a very early age. However, those that have these deficiencies are not able to comprehend how this is going to help them. These children are at a disadvantage, but they should not be treated as if they are at that disadvantage. It is the responsibility of the teacher to find ways around teaching these children using color. Ethically, they should not be able to have to teach these children this way. There are other ways in which they can teach them without making them feel as if they have something wrong with them. Though it is a struggle for some, it is possible to learn colors even while exhibiting colorblindness. Unfortunately, according to Continuing Education and Training (CET) sponsored by the Academy for Eye care Excellence (2009), “in some studies, the presence of a color vision defect has been associated with lower grades and poorer school performance” (p. 36). Again, this does not mean that this is the norm. It just means that the current studies show that some people have a greater difficulty dealing with the vision impairments. Another place in which ethical issues are prominent when assisting people with colorblindness is in many employment industries. These industries include the police force, aviation, medical industry, and a few other professions (CET, 2009). Employers have to be very careful how they react to individuals with color vision deficiencies. In the police force, good color vision is a very important aspect of the officer’s job. Being able to identify people, places, and things by color assist officers and their counterparts distinguish criminals from non-criminals. Aviation is another place in which ethical issues can come up due to color vision deficiency. This field uses colored lights on the ground, on aircrafts, and to mark specific structures near and around the airports (CET, 2009). In addition, the medical industry is another where ethical issues can be a concern. Though there are not any vision requirements in this industry, it can be difficult to do the job with a color vision deficiency. Finally, other professions in which ethical issues could arise include firefighters, electricians, and the armed forces (CET, 2009). Putting specific standards in place ahead of time (before the person is hired) helps eliminate any ethical issues. The ethical issues can be great when dealing with individuals with color vision deficiencies; however, these ethical issues can be brought to the forefront and dealt with ahead of time in order not to discriminate against anyone.

Though there has not been a cure for color vision deficiencies, many have been trying to find one for many years (since the 19th Century). Even though there is not a cure, there are treatments and medications that help an individual living with colorblindness deal with the everyday struggles that this disease provides. “Some of the methods that have been tried include eye exercises, staring at flashing red and green lights, vitamins, color education and colored filters” (CET, 2009, p. 39). CET (2009) also distinguishes other ways in which colorblind individuals deal with this obstacle in the following paragraph:

Individuals with a color vision deficiency report that they cope with their difficulties by asking colleagues, using instruments, separating colored objects and avoidance of tasks in which color is involved. With the improving technology and advancing research, it is now possible to simulate what the world looks like to a dichromatic observer (41).

From the research given, there does not seem to be any specific medications used in order to help with colorblindness. However, according to WebMD (2011), colorblindness can be treated by wearing colored contact lenses, wearing glasses that block out glares, and learning to look for specific cues such as brightness or locations (p. 2). More and more treatments are being researched as the years go by, but for now, many who suffer from colorblindness must use the resources they have in order to deal with the disorder. However, with a little help, individuals living with colorblindness can learn to work around the disorder in order to lead normal lives just like their other counterparts.

In conclusion, colorblindness is a disorder that affects many, but has no cure. That seems to be many diseases and disorders these days. The mutations in the specific genes do not allow the person affected to see colors the way they are supposed to and this can be a disadvantage to that person. The good thing is that there are ways to work around this disorder and ways in which to get treatment for it. With more research and more funding for the research, doctors may be able to eventually find a cure for this disorder. However, in the meantime, many have to watch how they work with individuals who suffer from color blindness. There are many ethical issues, as mentioned in this paper, that individuals must look out for in order to keep from discriminating against them. It must be a goal for everyone to work with individuals who are colorblind in order to help them achieve success just as any other handicapped person. This is a real disorder that needs attention and a cure.


Causes and incidence of colorblindness. (n.d.). Retrieved from

CET. (2009). Consequences and ‘treatment’ of color vision deficiencies. Continuing Education and Training: Academy for eyecare excellence, 35-42.

Color vision deficiency. (2013, Sept. 23). Retrieved from

Vorvick, L., Lusby, F., & Zieve, D. (2011, February 10). Color blindness tests. Retrieved from

WebMD. (2011). Eye health care. Retrieved from