Authored by Revere Health

What You Need to Know About Color Blindness

February 16, 2017 | Ophthalmology

There are a number of diseases that people commonly have misconceptions about, and color blindness is one of them. Even the name itself is slightly misleading, and in most cases, the condition is simply referred to as “poor color vision.”

This is because, in almost all cases, the condition isn’t referring to people’s complete inability to see any color. Rather, most people with this condition can see some colors – they just have an inability to tell the difference between certain colors. There are certain cases where people see only in black and white and cannot view color of any kind, but these are very rare.


There are several specific causes of poor color vision, starting with the most common:

  • Inherited: Poor color vision can be present at birth. These cases are much more common in men than in women due to the presence of an extra chromosome in women. Inherited conditions usually affect both your eyes, but the severity will depend on individual cases. In most situations, the severity of your condition won’t change over the years. Symptoms may not necessarily appear until later in childhood or even into adulthood.
  • Medications: Some kinds of medications can cause poor color vision. Some of these include medications for heart conditions, erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure or infections.
  • Diseases: Conditions like diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, glaucoma, sickle cell anemia, alcoholism and leukemia can lead to poor color vision. Some of these cases only affect one eye or the other, and some can be treated with effectiveness.
  • Chemicals: Things like fertilizers, carbon disulfide or certain other chemicals in the workplace can lead to poor color vision.
  • Aging: Some color vision naturally gets worse with age.



There are a few different types of poor color vision, categorized by the colors it affects:

  • Red-green: There are pigments in the eyes that help you see color, and these are known as “cones.” The most common form of poor color vision is when red and green cones have lost or limited functions. This creates problems distinguishing between these two colors.
  • Blue-yellow: This instance is rarer than red-green, and is caused by issues with blue-cone photopigments. It will cause blue colors to appear yellow, and make it difficult to tell yellow colors from other light shades.
  • Complete color blindness: This is a very rare condition where people can’t see color at all. Other vision conditions are usually present as well.



Diagnosing poor color vision can be a tricky process in some cases because many people who have it have don’t know that something is wrong. With no comparison point for what’s “normal” with regard to color vision, it can be hard to detect on your own.

People with poor color vision usually get clues from friends or family in most cases, and there are several different tests that can be used. These depend on your exact issue, and you should speak to your doctor if you’re concerned about a specific kind of test.



Treatment for poor color vision is limited, especially in the majority of inherited cases. In cases where poor color vision is caused by an outside disease, treating that disease properly can have some positive effects on vision.

Some people wear colored glasses, though these are only a temporary fix. In recent years, gene replacement techniques have been explored as a way to permanently solve poor color vision issues.

If you think you may have poor color vision, or think someone close to you has it, speak to a doctor to find out your options for diagnosis and treatment.


Revere Health Ophthalmology offers patients the best in eye care, from glasses and contacts to treatment of eye-related diseases and conditions.



“Facts About Color Blindness.” National Eye Institute.

“Poor color vision.” The Mayo Clinic.



The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.