Color Blindness And “The Dress”

Colored paperThe infamous dress that divided the Internet for days—is it white and gold, or is it blue and black?

Turns out, the actual dress in the photograph is blue and black, but if you see white and gold in the picture, you’re not necessarily wrong. If you see the dress as white and gold, should you be concerned about color blindness?

No. Key-Whitman’s Dr. Amanda Hoelscher recently explained the dress phenomenon on the Emily Trube show on KRLD radio.

How you see the dress has to do with the background, which is blurred out, and the brain can’t decide if the photo is underexposed or overexposed, Hoelscher explained. If your brain sees the background as overexposed, you’ll see the photo as white and gold. And you’re right. But if your brain sees the background as underexposed, you’ll see it as black and blue. And you’re also right.

Different brains make different interpretations about the colors you’re seeing in this particular photo. If you were to see the dress in person and still see it as colors other than black and blue, then you might need to see your eye doctor about color blindness.

What is color blindness?

Color blindness (or color vision problem), which affects about one in 12 men and one in 20 women, causes difficulty discerning between red, green, blue or a mix of these colors.

There are three types of cone cells in the eye. Each type is designed to sense red, green or blue light. These senses help our brain recognize color. Someone who is color blind is either missing one of these cone cells, or they are not working properly.

Color blindness is often inherited, but in some cases, color vision problems may also be acquired as the result of age, injury to the eye, side effects of some medications or eye problems such as: glaucoma, macular degeneration, cataracts or diabetic retinopathy.

Symptoms of color blindness

Symptoms of color blindness include:

  • Ability to see some colors, but not others. For example, inability to tell the difference between green and red.
  • Seeing fewer shades of colors.
  • Seeing only black, white and gray (in severe cases only).

In some cases, an individual with color blindness may see many colors and not know that he or she sees color differently from others.

How color blindness is diagnosed

Color blindness is diagnosed with tests that measure how well an individual recognizes different colors. It is important that color blindness is detected as early as possible, as this type of vision problem can affect every aspect of life. Children with color blindness may have trouble reading and experience other learning difficulties.

Treatment for color blindness

There is no treatment or correction for inherited or genetic color blindness. Individuals with acquired color blindness caused by an underlying eye condition may undergo treatment, depending on the cause of their color vision problems.

For example, if cataracts are the cause of color blindness, cataract surgery may correct the problem. Wearing colored contact lenses or glasses that block glare may also help some people with color vision problems better discern color.

Your eye doctor can test for color blindness during a routine eye exam. If you are diagnosed with color blindness, ask your doctor about potential treatments to correct your color vision problems. Eye surgery for some eye conditions may improve color vision. If you have difficulty discerning between colors, contact Key-Whitman to schedule an eye exam and discuss possible treatment options.