The inherited condition known as color blindness occurs due a deficiency of cone-shaped cells in the retina. The abnormality is carried on the X gene and passed from a mother to her children. As females have to X genes and males only one, boys are more likely to develop the disorder. The two X genes in females typically compensate one for the other if one carries the color blindness gene. The National Eye Institute reports that up to eight percent of males have color blindness while the abnormality appears in females only 0.5 percent of the time.
Color Blindness Symptoms
Red-green color deficiency is the most common form of the disorder. Youngsters having this type of color blindness cannot differentiate one color from another.
- Red and green appear similar.
- Green and brown appear similar, and beige is especially not detected.
- Blue and purple look the same.
- The difference between pink and gray is indistinguishable.
Color blind children often have no difficulty identifying the primary colors. Although different shades of the same color are not detectable. Blue or yellow are often their favorite color as either is easily seen and looks different than green. For a real world perspective, children having red-green colorblindness see purple flowers as blue. In the fall or on a plant, they cannot tell the difference between brown and green leaves mixed together. The leaves appear to be all the same color. A green traffic light appears white while a red traffic light looks amber. When old enough to drive, color blind drivers often distinguish between lights by memorizing their alignment order.
Color Blindness Tests
Most adult who have gone to get or renew a driver's license are familiar with the Ishihara color perception test. The images feature a circle containing dots of one color and number of another color. However, as toddlers commonly cannot recognize numbers, modifications to the test are necessary. A non-medical test appearing in an issue of “Field and Stream” was originally designed to test the color acuity of hunters. But, as the test contains the shapes of familiar animals, it is also appropriate for toddlers.
For children who are able to recognize circles, squares and triangles, there is another series of images that might be used, which also includes an explanation of the results.
In the animal image, little ones with normal color vision see the bear, deer, rabbit and squirrel. Children having a mild form of red-green color blindness can identify the rabbit and squirrel. Instead of seeing the deer, youngsters often mistake it for a cow. They cannot see the bear. Toddlers having a more severe form of the disorder can identify the fox but cannot see a bear.
Outside of perhaps mismatching their clothes, children having color blindness live normal lives. It is important that when a child is diagnosed with the anomaly, that their parents remain loving, patient and supportive. When in the company of other family members, friends or in school, adults must take care to ensure that the child does not suffer rejection or ridicule.