There is a great deal of misunderstanding about colour blindness and colour deficiency. Colour blindness does exist but it is a very rare condition in Australia. Colour deficiency, however, is quite common. Did you know, eight percent of men and around half a percent of women have congenital colour deficiency? Many people with the condition don’t know either. Recent Australian research indicates that a fifth of people with the condition were not aware of it and of the people that did know, a third of them were unaware of it until they left school.
If people are living comfortably with this condition, you may well ask, what’s the problem? Well, there is evidence that undetected colour vision deficiency in students can dramatically affect their learning. Furthermore, some professions require perfect colour vision.
So how is colour vision assessed? Standard procedure is to use Ishihara plates. These are a set of numbers written with coloured dots. They provide a quick and accurate assessment of whether a colour deficiency exists. Two other tests can help to identify and define the deficiency. The Farnsworth D15 in which the viewer arranges colours in a particular order and the Medmont C100 which defines exactly which colours cannot be easily distinguished by the viewer.
Colour deficiency varies among those that experience it and many people with colour deficiency can enter the profession of their choice even if they have the condition. To do so they are required to complete a Farnsworth Lantern test to assess their level of colour distinction.
Colour deficiency can affect lives, particularly children’s lives, but diagnosis dramatically reduces the impact of colour deficiency. If your child is having trouble at school, has never been assessed for colour deficiency or has colour deficiency but isn’t sure to what degree and of what type, an assessment can have a huge impact on his or her learning. Because colour deficiency is linked with sex chromosomes boys are particularly likely to have the condition, and it is often inherited.
We all see the world differently but colour deficiency should not be an unnecessary obstacle to achievement and fulfilling potential.