The First Steps to Take After Discovering Color Blindness

Color blindness affects more than color vision. Learn about the mental and physical concerns of people who are colorblind and how organization, communication, and planning can help.

By Ability Central

21 May, 2024

An eye doctor in a light pink hijab administers an Ishihara color blindness test to a man at a wooden table

Being colorblind affects more than eyesight. In this article, Ability Central addresses the physical, mental, and social challenges of color vision deficiency. It will address the following:

  • What impact does being colorblind have on an adult?
  • What are the treatment options and technology aids for people who are colorblind?
  • How can family members and friends help their loved ones at home?
  • What can be done at work to help those who are colorblind?
  • What are the communication concerns for people who are colorblind?
  • Where can I get more information about color vision deficiency?

 

What impact does being colorblind have on an adult?

People with full color vision often take colors for granted, and because of this, color blindness can feel isolating or embarrassing. Think about how often color plays a role in daily life for a person with full color vision: stopping the car because the light turns red, choosing a ripe banana once it’s changed from green to yellow, reading through a color-coded report at work. 

These activities that are so “everyday” for people with full color vision can be confusing, frustrating, and sometimes even dangerous for people with some form of color blindness.

Color vision deficiency affects every aspect of life, from health and safety to recreation. Research has shown the following concerns in colorblind adults:

  • 81% of colorblind people worry about not noticing skin color changes from sun exposure
  • 77% struggle at the grocery store
  • 75% have difficulty choosing or buying clothes
  • 73% have problems with medication because they can’t distinguish pill colors
  • 63% struggle to play sports because they can’t see team colors

There are also some occupations that require employees to pass a color blindness test. This is usually for jobs where safety is concerned, like workplaces that handle color-coded signals, safety warnings, hazardous materials, or medications. If a person who is color blind applies for one of these jobs, it becomes much harder to get hired or succeed in the role.

 

What are the treatment options for people who are colorblind?

Treatment for color blindness depends on the type of color blindness someone has, as well as whether they were born with or developed the condition. 

For example, someone who is red-green colorblind could benefit from color-corrective glasses, while someone with full monochromacy—someone who only sees in shades of gray—wouldn't see any vision changes with those same glasses. On the other hand, some color vision deficiencies brought on by illness or another condition can go away with treatment of the underlying ailment. 

Special glasses, also known as color-correcting lenses, are a go-to resource for people with red-green color blindness. In general, these glasses cost around $100 to $450 without prescription lenses. 

In addition, some color vision research from around the world focuses on new, experimental treatments.

For example, the University of Washington has tested gene therapy for red-green color vision deficiencies on color blind monkeys. Early test results, in which treated monkeys correctly identified colors they’d never experienced before, suggest that this method works in some capacities. However, while gene therapy research shows great success for the monkeys, the method has not yet been tested on humans. We may have to wait a while for that!

 

What technology aids are available for people who are color blind?

There are plenty of other options for people who don’t benefit from or have access to color-corrective glasses. Technology aids, often in the form of settings or apps on a phone or computer, include things like:

  • The Color Binoculars app, which helps people distinguish between colors in their everyday lives. 
  • Color Blind Pal, an app designed to improve the visual accuracy of people with color vision deficiency.
  • Colorblind modes in operating systems like Microsoft Windows 10, which allow users to set different filters on the computer screen. Colorblind modes or settings are also becoming more common in things like video games and media players, although we’ve still got a long way to go. 

Ability Central offers a searchable database of cell phones equipped to help people with color vision deficiency. Take a look at each listing’s features to see which ones come with color vision settings built in.

 

How can family members and friends help their loved ones at home?

One of the lesser-known symptoms of color blindness is the sense of isolation or overwhelm many people with color vision deficiencies can experience. This includes complications in school and the workplace, but often has the biggest impact on people’s day-to-day routines.

Loved ones can help people with color vision impairment with general organization. For example:

  • Clearly label medications.
  • Assist with pairing clothes into coordinated outfits.
  • Assist with navigating a new area.

Finally, helping your loved one connect with a support group can relieve the mental strain of color vision deficiency. See our nonprofit search tool and Color Blindness: How To Plan for the Future for more details.

 

What can be done at work to help those who are colorblind?

The workplace can be a challenge for people who are colorblind. For example,

  • 90% of people with color vision deficiency say that identifying colors correctly plays a role in their job 
  • 67% have trouble interpreting color-coded materials
  • 20% can’t perform specific work that requires color identification

People with color vision deficiency may be unable to read and interpret diagrams and graphics, such as pie charts and slides used in presentations. These difficulties can often strain general communication, especially in the workplace.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) covers colorblind people and ensures proper work accommodations. To learn more, see Color Blindness: How To Plan for the Future.

 

What are the communication concerns for people who are colorblind?

Providing and receiving communication can be challenging for people with color vision deficiency. Any form of communication that relies on visual concepts may be difficult for someone who is colorblind to receive. 

In addition, research shows that, because of issues caused by problems seeing colors:

  • 88% of colorblind people deal with anxiety
  • 85% deal with depression
  • 82% deal with embarrassment
  • 62% struggle with overall disappointment in what they want to accomplish in life

These mental health concerns may make communicating their needs more difficult for someone with color vision deficiency. In fact, many colorblind people may keep their condition a secret, avoid conversations or decisions related to colors, or feel self-conscious about their appearance because they can’t quite tell the color of their clothes.

A counselor or support group can help open the lines of communication for a person with colorblindness. To learn more, see Color Blindness: How To Plan for the Future.

 

Where can I get more information about color vision deficiency?

For more information on colorblindness, low vision, and other visual disabilities, see Ability Central’s vision resources, including information about: 

 For color vision-specific information, see:

Article Type:
Learning