In the past, people with color blindness had no choice but to adjust to a life without normal color vision.
Colorblind glasses may help enhance color perception in some people with this condition. You may have seen emotional, viral videos of people trying on colorblind glasses for the first time and claiming life-changing results.
But how well do these glasses work? Do they really make a difference? The results vary depending on the type and extent of a person’s color deficiency.
What Are Color Blind Glasses?
Colorblind eyewear contains special lenses designed to help people with color blindness (color vision deficiency) perceive colors. They’re also known as color correction glasses or color vision glasses.
There’s still no known cure for color blindness, and these glasses won’t give you normal vision. But for some people with mild forms of red-green color blindness, they can enhance the contrast between colors and provide a more vibrant view of the world.1
What Is Color Blindness?
Color blindness is a common condition that prevents people from seeing the full spectrum of colors.
Color vision deficiency is a more accurate name for this condition. When people hear the term color blindness, many assume it involves seeing the world in black and white or shades of gray.
However, complete color blindness is rare. Most people with poor color vision see muted or less bright colors than the average person sees.
What Causes Color Blindness?
Color blindness occurs when there’s a problem with the light-sensitive cells in the retina responsible for perceiving color (cones). They may function abnormally or be missing, which causes difficulty distinguishing between colors.
Color vision deficiency is typically an inherited condition. However, it can develop over time if the eye is damaged due to injury or another condition that affects vision, such as cataracts.
How Common Is Color Blindness?
Color blindness is common, especially in men. About 8 percent of males and 0.5 percent of females have some type of color blindness.8,9
What Are the Types of Color Blindness?
There are different types of color blindness depending on which cones in the eye are affected. They include:
- Red-green color blindness. The most common type makes distinguishing between yellow, green, and red tough.
- Blue-yellow color blindness. This rare type may cause problems telling the difference between blue and green, purple and red, and pink and yellow.
- Complete color blindness. People with this extremely rare type don't see color at all.
How Do Color Blind Glasses Work?
Colorblind glasses filter out certain wavelengths of light before they reach the eye, changing the color of what the person wearing them sees.
To fully understand how these glasses work, it's important to understand how the human eye perceives color.
Color perception is made possible by specialized retinal cells (photoreceptors) called cones. There are three types of cones — red, green, and blue — and each one detects a specific wavelength range. The cones send wavelength information to your brain, which interprets colors.
People with red-green color blindness experience an overlap between their red and green cones. This causes the brain trouble differentiating between red and green colors.
Color correction glasses use special technology to block overlapping wavelengths. The brain can detect a clear red or green signal from the cone cells when there's less overlap.
Can Glasses Really Fix Color Blindness?
Colorblind glasses don't cure color blindness. They may improve color perception for some people, but results vary depending on the type and severity of color deficiency.
People with mild color blindness may notice an improvement when wearing these glasses. However, they won’t make any difference to someone missing photoreceptors or with optic nerve damage.1
What Are the Best Color Blind Glasses?
Here are our top choices for colorblind glasses:
EnChroma is the most popular brand of colorblind glasses. They’re designed by a UC Berkeley-trained researcher and mathematician and a Ph.D. glass scientist.2
EnChroma glasses feature optical materials that filter specific wavelengths of light. The wearer experiences more accurate color perception.2
Colormax ColorCorrection™ System Glasses
Another brand of colorblind eyewear is the ColorCorrection System.
The ColorCorrection System matches the precise wavelength of light for a person's color vision correction requirement. The filters are specially designed for each person. They can be applied to contact lenses and eyeglasses.
How Much Do Color Blind Glasses Cost?
A pair of adult EnChroma lenses cost between $200 and $400. For children, the glasses start at approximately $269.
Does Insurance Cover Color Blind Glasses?
Insurance plans don’t cover color-correcting glasses because they’re not medically necessary. If you have vision insurance, you can ask about receiving EnChroma glasses as prescription sunglasses. You may be given a discount or voucher.
Why are EnChroma Glasses so Expensive?
EnChroma colorblind glasses cost a lot because they’re made with high-end, expensive materials. The lenses are made of Trivex, a super lightweight yet extremely durable material that offers superior optical clarity.
Additionally, some people are willing to pay high prices to experience the joy of seeing vibrant colors for the first time.
What to Consider Before Buying Color Blind Glasses
There are many things to consider before you purchase a pair of these glasses, including:
- They may worsen night vision. It's not good to wear them at night because they reduce the amount of light reaching the eye. EnChroma also warns against using their glasses while driving.2
- They may be a problem for people with other eye conditions. Limiting the amount of light entering the eye might cause problems for people with cataracts or macular degeneration.
- They’re expensive. Color blindness glasses are a luxury item that can cost several hundred dollars, making them cost-prohibitive for many people.
- They may not provide the experience you’re hoping for. Having realistic expectations of how much these glasses may change your vision is important.
- Contrast-enhancing glasses aren’t the same. Hunting glasses and filters for photography increases the contrast between colors, but they aren’t designed to help people with color blindness.
Where to Buy Color Blind Corrective Glasses
EnChroma provides a colorblind test on its website to check your color vision, which helps before purchasing.
Commonly Asked Questions on Color Blind Glasses
Do colorblind glasses really work?
Yes, but their effectiveness varies, and they don’t cure color blindness. These glasses may make it easier for some people with color blindness to differentiate between colors.
Who can colorblind glasses help?
People with mild forms of color blindness may benefit from these glasses.
They won't help people who are color blind due to the absence of cone cells or damage to the brain's optic nerve or visual cortex.
Colorblind glasses may improve color vision for some people. These glasses use special lens technology to block certain light wavelengths from reaching the eye.
It’s important to note that glasses can't cure color blindness, and their effectiveness varies based on the severity of a person’s color deficiency.
Colorblind glasses are expensive, and it's important to have realistic expectations before purchasing.
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