What is colour blindness?

Colour blindness is a Colour Vision Deficiency (CVD) that affects over 300 million people worldwide, about 1 in 12 (8%) men and 1 in 200 women. That means in Britain there are about 2,7 million people (4.5%) of the entire population who suffer from this.

The reason why men most likely get this is because females carry the mutated gene in one of the X-Chromosomes, therefore, the likelihood of someone becoming colour blind would be hereditary. However, it can also be caused through diabetes, ageing and medication.

How do we see colour?

The colour of light is determined by its wavelength. Longer wavelength reacts to red light and shorter wavelength reacts to the blue light. Within the retina, we have photoreceptors, some are shaped like rods and some are shaped like cones.

Rods and cones respond differently to light. The rods are responsive to dim light = night vision, and the cones are responsive to bright light = daytime vision.

Most of us have a full set of the three different cone photopigments (red, long / green, medium / blue, short), however we all see colour differently due to the differences in each individual’s eye and brain receptors picking up the colour information.

There are many different types of colour blindness:

(The most common) Red-Green:

  • This is where the red (protan) or green cone (deutran) photopigments are limited.


  • This is a rarer condition. The blue (tritan) cone photopigments are limited.

Complete colour blindness:

  • Monochromacy is where you have no sense of colour vision at all. The world appears in black and white.

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Colour blind people face a lot of challenges in everyday life:

  • Grilling meat – they cannot tell what is raw or what is well done without a technologic device or assistance of another pair of ‘perfect’ eyes.
  • Food such as bananas may look yellow, but could be overripe and green.
  • Chemical testing – the shades are too subtle for them to distinguish between the hues.
  • Hair colour – they may not tell who is a blue-eyed blonde or a green-eyed redhead.
  • Shopping for clothes.

The last point I found especially interesting. Picking out clothes when shopping could be a huge challenge for those who are colour blind, and could prevent them from being able to go shopping independently. I feel this would be a great topic to explore further for my project.

Although there are options such as glasses that help people see colour, as well as a device to tell colour hues from your phone, both of these options are extremely expensive, and therefore, leaves a gap in the market of enabling the colour blind to be independent and choose their own clothes.

This has helped me to come up with the idea of helping them pick out clothes without the need of assistance, as well as build their confidence and reassurance that they do not need someone to guide them whilst they pick out a simple item of clothing in hope that it will match with another piece of clothing they have at home.









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