Updated on 

July 12, 2022

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EnChroma Glasses - Effectiveness, Cost, Alternatives

What are EnChroma Glasses?

EnChroma glasses are a new eyewear technology designed to help people with color vision deficiency see colors they've never seen before.

Color blindness affects an estimated 8% of males and 1% of females. It typically runs in families and is present at birth.1 

People with color blindness usually can’t distinguish between greens and reds (deuteranomaly) or blues and yellows (tritanomaly). In rare cases, they can only see in shades of gray (achromatopsia).

Color deficiencies stem from cone cells not working correctly. Cone cells detect color. They are located in the retina, which communicates light signals to the brain.

Symptoms of color vision deficiency include:

  • Trouble seeing color brightness 
  • Difficulty telling the difference between shades of the same color, such as red and green, or blue and yellow

Color vision deficiency is not the same for everyone and differs in intensity. It ranges from mild to complete color blindness, which is rare. 

Screening for color deficiency is as simple as looking at a few pictures. It’s called the Ishihara color test, and it quickly determines if you have red-green defects in your color vision.

There is no cure for color blindness, but special contact lenses and EnChroma glasses can help people distinguish color and improve their quality of life.

How Do EnChroma Glasses Work?

EnChroma lenses use a patented light wavelength technology to selectively filter out the point where color sensitivity occurs in cone cells. This lens technology increases the contrast of red and green signals, allowing for better color perception. 

EnChroma lenses correct common forms of red-green color blindness. They are not designed to address a blue-yellow color deficiency. 

EnChroma glasses have both indoor and outdoor lenses. Bright sunlight offers the best color impact, while indoor lenses are designed for low light.

What Does the World Look Like Through EnChroma Glasses?

Color deficiency can alter a person's view of the world and make simple tasks a little more complicated, such as:

  • Reading traffic signals
  • Putting together a coordinated outfit
  • Watching the sunset
  • Analyzing graphs and maps
  • Choosing a paint color
  • Playing sports
  • Sitting in a classroom

When someone puts on EnChroma glasses for the first time, they report seeing vibrant pops of colors that were previously shades of tan, brown, or gray. It is often quite emotional for people.  

EnChroma glasses were initially developed as eye protection for surgeons using lasers. Correcting color deficiency was an unintended benefit of the novel lens technology. They are now designed specifically for people who are color blind.

Are Colorblind Glasses Effective?

Colorblind glasses are effective, but they aren't for everyone with a color vision deficiency. 

EnChroma glasses work best for people with mild forms of red-green colorblindness by providing contrast for some colors. However, colorblind glasses don’t offer an equivalent to natural color vision. 

A few things to consider before purchasing colorblind glasses include:

  • They can worsen night vision if worn when the sun goes down
  • They are expensive and may not meet your expectations
  • Contrast-enhancing glasses for hunting and photography are not the same as color blind glasses
  • Colorblind glasses only work while wearing them. They will not change your photoreceptors

How Much Do They Cost?

According to the EnChroma website, its colorblind glasses range from $189 to $400 depending on the style and if they will be used for indoor or outdoor activities.7

EnChroma has glasses available for children and adults. They can also be customized with an eyeglass prescription. 

Colorblind glasses are not typically covered by insurance, but vouchers and other discounts are available. 

EnChroma glasses can be purchased online or from one of their 200 independent authorized retailers (licensed eye care professionals) across the U.S. and Canada.8 

Alternative Treatment Options

In addition to EnChroma glasses, there are other devices and technology that can help correct color vision deficiencies, including:

  • Special contact lenses (ColorMax, X-Chrom)
  • Computer-based tools (apps, visual aids)
  • Gene therapy, which is under research as a possible technique for correcting the gene responsible for congenital color blindness

Summary

Color vision deficiency typically affects males and is present at birth. It is caused by cone cells in the retina not working, resulting in dull colors that look brown, tan, or gray. 

EnChroma glasses use a unique wavelength technology to address people with mild red-green colorblindness, allowing them to see vibrant colors for the first time. They do not work for all forms of color blindness. Other alternatives to treating color deficiencies include special contact lenses, visual aids, and possibly gene therapy.

9 Cited Research Articles
  1. Eye diseases & conditions: color blindness.” Prevent Blindness, n.d.
  2. Types of color blindness.” National Eye Institute, 26 Jun. 2019
  3. Turbert, D. “What is color blindness?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, 09 Dec. 2021 
  4. How EnChroma glasses work.” EnChroma, n.d.
  5. Barry, J., Mollan, S., Burdon, M., et al. “Development and validation of a questionnaire assessing the quality of life impact of Colour Blindness (CBQoL).” BMC Ophthalmology, Ltd, 02 Oct. 2017
  6. Mukamal, R. “Do Colorblindness Glasses Really Work?” American Academy of Ophthalmology, Ltd, 08 Mar. 2021
  7. EnChroma adult and kids collections.” EnChroma, n.d.
  8. Where can I buy your glasses?” EnChroma, n.d.
  9. Badawy, A., Hassan, M., Elsherif, M., et al. “Contact Lenses for Color Blindness.” Wiley Online Library, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 26 Apr. 2018
Melody Huang is an optometrist and freelance health writer. Through her writing, Dr. Huang enjoys educating patients on how to lead healthier and happier lives. She also has an interest in Eastern medicine practices and learning about integrative medicine. When she’s not working, Dr. Huang loves reviewing new skin care products, trying interesting food recipes, or hanging with her adopted cats.
Amy is a registered nurse who holds a M.S. in nursing from California State University, Sacramento, as well as a B.A. in journalism from California State University, Chico. She is a freelance health writer who brings her deep knowledge of the importance of eye health to Vision Center. Her goal is to combine the worlds of nursing and writing to educate people on common eye conditions and how to prevent vision loss.
https://www.visioncenter.org/author/amy/
Author: Amy Isler  | UPDATED July 12, 2022
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Medical reviewer: Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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Dr. Melody Huang, O.D.
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The information provided on VisionCenter.org should not be used in place of actual information provided by a doctor or a specialist.

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