Living With Color Blindness

Think for a moment about how many things in life rely on color. From getting dressed in the morning (making sure your clothes match) to driving to work (and reading traffic signals), color is all around us!

Compensating for an inability to see colors can be easy in some ways and not so easy in others. As far as traffic lights go, a person can learn the order of the three lights — red at the top, yellow in the middle, and green at the bottom — and watch for which one is lit. Even if you can’t see the color, you can see the presence or absence of light. You can have a friend or family member with normal color vision go clothes shopping with you, and help you organize your closet and dresser. Try designating one drawer for a family of colors — blue in one, black/grey in another, etc. That way, you won’t accidentally pair a blue sock and a black sock. Your closet can be divided similarly; try putting each color of clothes on a different type of hanger.

A lack of color vision may restrict the careers available to you. For example, you’d have a hard time working as a clothing designer or interior decorator if you were color blind! In certain careers — like airline pilot, police officer, and certain military positions — color blind people are prohibited by law.

Color vision problems can be very difficult for children. A lack of color vision can affect learning ability, reading development, and self esteem. Some children may try to hide their color blindness by watching and imitating their classmates’ reactions or even by copying their work.

Make sure your child is tested yearly for color vision along with other vision tests. If your child does have color vision problems, there are some things you can do to help.

  • Talk to your child’s teacher about your child’s color blindness.
  • Depending on the type of color blindness your child has, they may have difficulty reading yellow chalk on green chalkboard. A switch to a room with a black chalkboard or a whiteboard may make things easier.
  • Your child may be able to see the board better in a seat where the glare from windows or bright lights is less.
  • Work with your child at home to see what colors are easiest to see and what colors are difficult to see. Try different colors of chalk and markers on different colors of paper.