Color blindness, which is also called color vision deficiency, affects approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women, worldwide. Although most cases are genetic, there are other reasons people may lose their color vision, such as diabetes, aging or medication. Most people suffering from color blindness can see objects clearly, but are unable to see red, green or blue light distinctly. Extreme cases, in which the person cannot see any color at all, are possible but extremely rare. Likewise, there are very mild cases, where the affected individual may be unaware that they are color blind. The majority of those affected can see certain colors but are often unable to tell similar colors apart.
In 2010, Andrew Schmeder and Don McPherson founded Enchroma Inc., to perfect technology which could be used to enhance color, for those previously unable to see it. They created lenses by combining optic technology with the latest discoveries in color perception neuroscience. Humans see when our eyes project light onto our retina, which use six million cone cells to transfer the image into neural signals. These signals are transmitted to the visual cortex, where we interpret them as images. Each cell is color specific and responds to light of a different frequency, which corresponds to the primary colors of light: red, green and blue.
Color blindness is caused when an individual’s retinal cone cells respond to light in an abnormal manner. There are three types of color blindness, which are determined by the cones that are affected: for red-light cells, it is protan-type; green-light cells, deutan-type and blue-light cells tritan-type. Most color blindness is caused by red and green sensitive retinal cones having an overlapping response to light. Enchroma lenses are designed to remove wavelengths of light, exactly where the overlap occurs, and are expected to be able to help 80% of people with color vision deficiencies. This can be determined by getting a personal assessment done, by a qualified Enchroma specialist.
The glasses are also available in chic, consumer grade designs, which reveal vibrant, true-to-life colors to many who have never had this experience. Not only is the world a brighter, more beautiful place when seeing in color, but in many ways this has become a necessity in modern society. The ability to read and interpret signs and colored lights can be the difference between life and death. As research continues, the company hopes to find a way to bring color vision to all those affected without it and bring the true range of color to the entire world.