Colour blindness occurs when one or more of the light sensitive cones in the retina are faulty or missing. There are many types of colour blindness with the deficiency ranging from a difficulty in distinguishing certain colour ranges such as in Dichromatism, the most common form of the disorder to monochromatism, a highly rare form of the deficiency, in which colour is viewed in black, white and shades of grey only.
Colour blindness is a common deficiency with as much as 8% of males and 0.5% of females suffering from the condition. Protanomaly, a red weakness and Deuteranomaly, a green weakness, are the two most common forms of colour blindness. People with a -red weakness having difficulty in differentiating red, orange, yellow and yellow green, as well as the depth of colour and brightness while those with a -green weakness having difficulty in determining the differences between red, orange, yellow and green but do not have issues with the depth and brightness of the hues.
Colour blindness usually displays in children early on with an inability to differentiate from certain colours. This is often noticeable as they begin to discover colours and the names of colours and may cause some concern for parents when it happens. Although this does mean that your child will be facing some challenges ahead, it is not cause for panic.
Should you suspect that your child is colour blind, it’s recommended to have his/her eyes tested by an optometrist. The most common test undertaken for colour blindness is the Isihara test in which your child will be asked to detect numbers or shapes that are strategically coloured to detect colour deficiencies. This test is quick and painless and can help to determine which colours your child has difficulties with. The optometrist will also recommend ways in which you can work with your child to make dealing with the problem easier for both of you.
As a child, the world is regularly colour coded to make it easier to navigate, particularly in early education. When a child realises that what they see is different to how others see it, they may become distressed and scared. It’s important to explain colour blindness to your child so they understand what it is, and can accept that it is not their fault.
Facing the challenges
One of the first challenges that your colour blind child will face is colour coding in education and this can be quite an adjustment for both you and the child.
It is crucial for your child that the teacher is aware of your child’s colour deficiencies, in order to assist your child in working to the same level as other children in his/her class. It’s also very important to explain it to your child clearly and simply to allow them to understand the challenges they will face.
As your child starts school, the challenges they face may increase, with difficulties being able to keep up with and complete assignments as well as facing possible teasing and exclusion by other children in the class. It’s important that your child can keep up with the other children, as well as feel comfortable with his/her abilities.
There are some things you can do to make it easier for your child and to ensure their colour deficiency does not get in the way of their education.
As with the early years and pre-school, it’s vital that your child’s teacher understands the situation. Providing them with enough information will help them to work with your child properly and adequately. A simple method of helping your child to work with the disorder is to label the colours with their names on all pencils and pens. This helps your child to work without needing assistance and can go a long way to building a sense of independence and freedom.
There is no cure for colour blindness, but there are ongoing studies into corrective lenses and glasses for single colour deficiencies and other solutions. Many children with lesser colour deficiencies can go through life with little issues, while children with more severe colour deficiencies will need you to teach them the skills they need to work with the colours in a way they feel comfortable and confident.