Color Blindness (cont.)
In this Article
How does the eye normally see colors?
Think of your eye as a camera. The front of the eye contains a lens that focuses images on the inside of the back of the eye. This area, called the retina, is covered with special nerve cells that react to light.
These retinal nerve cells include the rods and cones. The rods and cones react to light because they contain pigments that change when light strikes them.
The cones are responsible for color vision. There are several kinds of pigments present in three types of cone cells. Some cones react to short-wavelength light, others react to medium wavelengths, and others react to higher wavelengths.
There is only one kind of pigment in the rods, and it reacts the same way to any wavelength of light. The rods do not have anything to do with color vision; however, they are very sensitive to light and allow us to see at night.
When the rods and all the types of cones are working together, the eye sees all possible colors. It is something like the way a painter can mix just a few colors together and make paint of every possible color.
What Is Color Blindness?
If there is some problem with the pigments in the cones, the eye will not see colors in the usual way. This is called color deficiency or color blindness.
If just one pigment is missing, the eye might have trouble seeing certain colors. Red-green colorblindness - where red and green might look the same - is the most common form of colorblindness, followed by blue-yellow colorblindness. Patients who have blue-yellow colorblindness almost always have red-green colorblindness, too.
In some eyes, none of the pigments are present in the cones, so the eye does not see color at all. This most severe form is known as achromatopsia.
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