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Poor Color Vision


Disease: Poor Color Vision Poor Color Vision
Category: Eye diseases
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Disease Definition:

The inability to distinguish certain shades of color is called poor color vision. Although many people call it colorblindness, true colorblindness describes a total lack of color vision. The ability to see only shades of gray is rare.

Most people who have poor color vision are unable to tell the difference between some shades of red and green. People with this condition can't distinguish between shades of blue and yellow.

In most cases, poor color vision is an inherited condition, as well as, it is less likely for women to be born with this disease than men are. Additionally, certain eye diseases and some medications could possibly result in color deficiency.

Work Group:

Prepared by: Scientific Section

Symptoms, Causes


Someone might have poor color vision without being aware of it. additionally, a parent might not realize that their child is having problems until a situation causes confusing or a misunderstanding happens, as is the case in encountering a traffic light or trying to interpret color-coded learning materials.
People affected by poor color vision might be unable to distinguish:



  • Any colors at all
  • Different shades of red and green
  • Different shades of blue and yellow

Inability to see certain shades of red and green is most likely to be seen in color deficiency. Defects of poor color deficiency could be mild, moderate or severe.  A person who is usually a red-green or blue-yellow deficient is not totally insensitive to both colors. The person might be unable to tell the difference between the colors of a rainbow or recognize a rose-colored sky at sunrise or sunset.

Additionally, people suffering from poor color vision might be unable to name different colors. For instance, their “green” might be what normal-sighted people call “yellow.” Due to leaves that are known to be green, therefore they interpret the yellow leaves they see as “green.”

In the case of having a child who’s having a preschool eye exam, it’s wise for the child to be tested for color vision as well as for visual acuity, also, when one has doubts about their color vision being unsatisfactory, they might get tested. Inherited poor color vision cannot be treated, yet, in case there’s an underlying eye illness, treating it might improve color vision.


With the eyes’ ability to accurately distinguish the main colors red, blue and green, seeing colors across the light spectrum begins.
Light enters the eye through the lens and passes through the transparent, jelly-like main body of the eye (vitreous body) to color-sensitive cells (cones) at the back of the eye. Chemicals in the cones distinguish among colors sending that information through the optic nerve to the brain.

A hundreds of blends of colors could be distinguished if one’s eyes are functioning normally, yet, only two of the main colors might be noticed by the person whose cones are lacking one or more light-sensitive chemicals.

There are many reasons for the occurrence of poor color vision:

Inherited disorder: Less than 1% of females of Northern European descent have this kind of color deficiency, when great number of females possess genes that counteract the deficiency. About 1 in 12 males of Northern European descent is born with certain degree of red-green color deficiency. In other populations, the prevalence of red-green color deficiency is lower.
Less than 1 in 10,000 people worldwide inherit blue-yellow color deficiency and fewer than 1 in 30,000 people truly inherit colorblindness. A mild, moderate or severe degree of the disorder could be inherited and the severity doesn’t change over the lifetime when the reason behind it is inherited.

Diseases: Diabetes, macular degeneration, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, leukemia, sickle cell anemia, Alzheimer’s disease and chronic alcoholism are some of the conditions that cause color deficits. One eye may be more affected than the other and may get better if the underlying disease can be treated.

Certain medications: Color vision could be altered with certain medications, such as some medications used to treat heart problems, nervous disorders, high blood pressure, infections and psychological problems.

Aging: A person’s ability to see colors gradually deteriorates as a part of aging.

Chemicals: Exposure to some potent chemicals in the workplace, such as carbon disulfide, fertilizers and styrene may cause loss of color vision. If a person works around these chemicals, it's wise to have color vision evaluation because the loss of some color vision may be too subtle for you to notice.





Inherited color vision deficiencies cannot be corrected with any kind of treatment.

In the case of having poor color deficiency, an ophthalmologist can determine which type of poor color vision the person has and check to see if there's an associated eye disease. Eye disease isn’t as common a cause for the occurrence of poor color vision as heredity is, but treatments slowing or reversing the course of an eye disease might help color vision.

The perception of contrasts might be raised in case of wearing a colored filter over eyeglasses or a colored contact lens. However, these lenses might not make one’s ability to discern colors any better.


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