Medical Definition of Red-green colorblindness

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Reviewed on 12/27/2018

Red-green colorblindness: A form of colorblindness in which red and green are perceived as identical. This is the most common type of colorblindness. It is inherited in an X-linked recessive manner and affects 6% of males. It is also known as deutan colorblindness, deuteranopia, and Daltonism.

The term "Daltonism" is derived from the name of the chemist and physicist, John Dalton (1766-1844). Dalton was born in a village in Cumberland, England where his father, Joseph, was a weaver in poor circumstances. He was educated by his father and John Fletcher, teacher in a Quaker school. When Fletcher retired in 1778, Dalton took his place. In 1793 he was appointed teacher of mathematics and natural philosophy at New College in Manchester. In 1803 he put forth the facts embodied in his law of partial pressures: the pressure of a mixture of gases is the sum of the pressures which would be exerted separately by the several constituents if each alone were present. Dalton's reputation largely rests upon his great Atomic Theory. It was said of Dalton that "into society he rarely went, and his only amusement was a game of bowls on Thursday afternoons."

Dalton described his and his brother's affliction of colorblindness with defective perception of red and green in the first scientific paper he published. It was entitled "Extraordinary facts relating to the vision of colours, with observation" (Mem Literary Philos Soc Manchester 5: 28-45, 1798). It is the first recognized account of red-green colorblindness.

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Reviewed on 12/27/2018