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How Color Blind People See the World and Why They Perceive Colors Differently

You may have heard that colors are not actually a part of the objects that we look at, but rather, they are a result of the light that these objects absorb or reflect. The particular colors we see are the work of our retinas, which are located at the backs of our eyes. The retina sends a signal to our brain, which decodes and recognizes which colors are which. However, some people cannot see the colors the way other people do — and the reason for that can be color blindness.

5-Minute Crafts prepared this article for you to learn more about color blindness and be able to tell the difference between the different types of this condition.

This article is for informational purposes only and can’t replace professional advice. Please consult your doctor if you suffer from the symptoms described in the article.

How you perceive colors

As mentioned above, light perception happens in the retina, which is made of thin layers of cells. There are 2 types of light-detecting cells — rods and cones.

  • Cones are sensitive to different colors, so they help us distinguish red, green, and blue. When looking at one of these, a particular cone is activated. Then they send the information to our brains.
  • Rods, on the other hand, can help us see in different levels of light.

So, for example, when seeing something red, the cone that is in charge of perceiving that color is activated. But if you were looking at something yellow, both the red and green cones would activate since yellow is close to these 2 colors.

Since normal color vision uses all 3 types of cones to perceive the light, we call it trichromacy. On the other hand, people who have dichromatic color vision have only 2 types of cones that function correctly. There are 3 types of dichromatic color vision.

1. Protanopia

People with protanopia can’t identify the red light.

  • They will confuse black with different shades of red; dark brown with dark red, orange or green, dark blue, purple, and black; blue with red, purple and dark pink; and green with orange.

2. Deuteranopia

People with both protanopia and deuteranopia see the world in hues of blue and yellow and often confuse brown, orange, red, and green.

  • Deuteranopia is associated with being unable to perceive the green light. People with this condition mix up mid-green with mid-red, blue-green with gray and mid-pink, bright green with yellow, and light blue with lilac.

3. Tritanopia

With reduced reactivity to blue light, people often can’t distinguish between blue and yellow, violet and red, and blue and green. This is why they will see the world mostly in red, black, white, gray, turquoise, and pink colors.

  • Tritanopia is where people can’t identify the blue light or make a distinction between blue and green, blue and gray, or dark purple and black.

Bonus: complete color blindness

Complete color blindness is also called monochromacy, and it’s really rare. A person with monochromatic vision can’t distinguish colors at all and sees only different shades of gray on a scale of black to white. People with this condition can also experience high sensitivity to light.

Preview photo credit Briam-Cute / Pixabay
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