Color blindness is a common vision deficiency that affects about 8% of men and 0.5% of women. The most common type of “color blindess” is red-green color blindness. Affected individuals cannot distinguish red from green. A scientist who was trying to develop protective eyewear for surgeons has developed a pair of glasses that can correct red-green color blindness.
Glasses funded by NIH
Don McPherson, a researcher at Alfred University, was trying to develop eyewear that could protect physicians’ eyes during laser surgery. McPherson was playing a game of Ultimate Frisbee with a friend, and let him try the glasses on. The friend happened to be color blind – a condition that McPherson doesn’t suffer from. McPherson’s friend reported that his color vision changed when he wore the glasses.
McPherson applied for funding from the National Institutes of Health to help perfect the design of the glasses. He teamed up with a computer scientist to refine the design. In 2010, the pair formed a company called EnChroma, which sells the corrective lenses for $269-$349 per pair. The glasses don’t offer a permanent correction for the condition. Color blindness is a genetic deficiency and could only be “cured” with an effective gene therapy. None currently exist, but at least one promising treatment is seeking permission to conduct human trials.
EnChroma’s glasses aren’t the only eyewear available to correct color blindness. Several other companies offer color correction lenses. A Maryland optometrist offers both contact lenses and glasses that can allow the wearer to pass color vision tests that are required for certain types of employment. EnChroma does not guarantee that its lenses will allow the wearer to pass a color vision test, but says its glasses can help color blind people experience color vision.
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Photo Credit: JoJo 77 , via Flickr.com