I have red-green color blindness. I think it’s fairly mild. No, the world does not look like the Dick Van Dyke Show to me. As far as I know, I live in a very colorful world, and I don’t feel as if I’m missing out on much. So I don’t really appreciate fall foliage; big whoop.
Still, I admit to being intrigued by Enchroma’s (supposedly) color-blind correcting glasses. But not intrigued enough to drop $300 to $500 on a pair (side question: Why are they so freaking expensive?). I’ve seen the videos of people being brought to tears by seeing colors for the first time, and yes, they’re quite moving. But I suspect that these represent a very small percentage of cases, and/or these folks have much more serious afflictions than I do and are seeing a very startling change. I just don’t expect I’d be that overwhelmed.
So, has anybody here tried them, or known somebody who has? Is it really that life-changing? Worth the money?
I have a difficult time telling the difference between red/green purple/blue green/brown of certain shades. I received a pair of the cheaper enchroma-knockoffs as a gift last year and I was really underwhelmed, but maybe the technology in enchroma glasses is different.
I took their test and no surprise, I’m Deuteranomaly which is by far the most common type of colour blindness (8% of males of northwestern European descent). Their blurb said 70% satisfaction for using Enchroma with this type of colour blindness. This didn’t sound all that impressive to me.
I get the impression that it’s not restoring true color vision, but enhancing the contrast between what you see as colors. So, if red and green are the same color to you, then red will be more intense while the green might be duller.
I’ve seen the youtube videos and have been interested in trying them out. I’m red-green colorblind as well. Red and green are not the same color to me (obviously, as I would have grown up disputing why a single color has two names depending on the places it is seen). But I always fail the color vision tests. So I guess it means I don’t see very intense reds or intense greens, and true, if they are far away or small I often can’t see the difference - they’re just brownish. Video games with red (enemy) and green (ally) are often really difficult for me to tell apart.
It sounds like your deuteranomaly is far more severe than OP’s. Do you know what orange is?
I’ve enjoyed watching some of those videos. The kids who get the glasses seem overjoyed, but some adults have different reactions. Some are very happy, sliding glasses off and on to compare. (“That … Is that orange? So, that’s what orange is!”) Others seem angry at first that family has wasted money buying the glasses and then start crying when they put them on. Rather than tears of joy, they seem almost like tears of regret that the colors have been missing for so many years.
That is my understanding as well. Of course, having the world gain a significantly higher contrast could certainly be a dramatic change. But these glasses don’t “cure” colorblindness any more than a cochlear implant “cures” deafness - they make sensory information more readily available to someone with a deficiency, but they don’t actually fix the underlying mechanism that’s not working properly. Which can still be seen as desirable - even if these do not give the users true normal color vision the ability to better distinguish colors can still be useful.
The fact that these glasses do not, actually, give true color vision is why they’re use will not enable to a person to pass the color vision tests for certain professions like pilot or truck driver or train engineer.
I wish to correct your misunderstanding of the term “colorblindness”.
There are people who can not, as you imply, distinguish red or green at all, which is called deuteranopia or protoanopia depending on which color receptor is malfunctioning, but the end result is a person who can not distinguish red from green, and whose perception of other colors is also altered. Among the colorblind, these are, in fact, rare - only 1-2% of men as a whole have this (it is possible for this to occur in women, but it is extremely rare)
Most of the rest of colorblind people have either deuteranomaly or protoanomaly. They are not “blind” to red and green, but their perception of red or green is altered. They do, actually, see red and green but they see it differently than those with normal color vision. Those with protoanomaly have altered red perception, and this, too, is a rare form of colorblindness.
MOST people who are described as “colorblind” have deuteranomaly, or an altered green sensor. Again, they can distinguish between red and green but they don’t see green as well as someone with normal color vision. Green has to be more saturated to register as green, so some shades of greenish-brown, for example, will just look brown to them, blue-green will look just blue. A green car might look grey or black to them in dim light that is still sufficient for someone with normal color vision to say “that’s a green car”. But show them bright, primary hues in strong light and they will be able to identify green, red, and other colors reliably. It would be more accurate to say such people are “color weak” or “color altered” than color-blind
(There are a few, even rarer forms of colorblindness which I suspect the Enchroma glasses would have no affect on and I mention the fact they exisit only for completeness sake).
The Enchroma site says they work by filtering out certain wavelengths, increasing the contrast between colors, which makes it easier to distinguish the different colors. The thing is, these glasses CAN NOT make a person see colors they don’t have the receptors to see. Where are the videos of people for whom these did not work? If they work on those with deuteranomaly (and maybe protoanomalous people, too) they’ll work for about 60-70% of the “colorblind” but that still leaves a bunch of people they don’t work for. I also wonder if there is some pressure on the part of the gift receivers to react in a certain way to please the gift-givers and how many of them continue using the glasses.
And, indeed, Enchroma’s website states that it only works for anomalous trichromacy, that is, the “color weak” types of colorblindess. What they don’t mention is that by filtering the most problematic wavelengths of light to increase the differences between most colors, they also cause colors in those particular wavelengths to “drop out” or become dimmer/less easy to distinguish. Again, they don’t cure colorblindness, they change it. Whether or not that’s an overall improvement would be up to the individual.
Keep in mind that for many people with the “anomaly” type of colorblindness it isn’t much of a handicap - people can live well into adulthood before being diagnosed. Mine was caught by an FAA physical for a pilot’s license in my late 30’s - somehow it never came up during the time I was earning a degree in fine arts. It was deemed mild enough that I have an unrestricted pilot’s license. John Byrne’s deuteranomlous trichromancy didn’t stop him from having a career as a comic book artist, including major titles like X-man, Fantastic Four, and Superman. The fact some people are more adversely affected probably has to do with minor variations in color-receptor genes.
I have no interest in spending several hundred dollars for one of these glasses, but if I could borrow a set for a few minutes I’d be interested. I suspect their effect would be somewhat like polarized sunglasses, which can enable a person to see through haze, eliminate glare, and clue you in to some types of glass (the tempered glass in the back window of my car has an interesting checkerboard pattern when viewed with polarized lenses that are completely invisible to normal vision). I really hate navigating in bright sunlight without them, now, but they didn’t move me to tears when I first donned them. But hey, I could be wrong about Enchroma glasses, maybe they would be an epiphany for me. The thing is, my colorblindness is not an impediment to me so I don’t have much concern with “curing” it. It’s just not a problem for me. Other people seem much more concerned with it than I am.
I think the only concession I made for my colorblindness was, when plotting a course on an aerial navigation map I used an orange highlighter rather than the more common yellow ones - around here said maps are mostly shades of blue and the yellow highlighter on top made a green that didn’t stand out very well for me, the orange one added more contrast and made my plotted course easier to see, especially in the variable conditions in a cockpit as opposed to sitting at a desk or table under steady incandescent or fluorescent light fixtures. It wasn’t that the yellow highlighter was invisible, the orange one just stood out more.
I don’t normally have much problem with computer displays, although I have occasionally run across websites with color choices that were a bit problematic for me. Not too often, though.
IO did see one Enchroma video where the guy wasn’t particularly impressed by the difference with the glasses and without. The one that struck me the most as the guy who, after wearing his new glasses, couldn’t look at his family without them. He said they all looked like corpses, with no skin tones. While most seem to be thrilled with reds and greens that they can see, including being able to differentiate different shades, this guy was sort of horrified at how his family now appeared to him without the glasses.
For an opportunity to just try out Enchroma lenses make a stop at one ofthree scenic overlook stops in Tennessee where they have installed some viewfinders fitted with the Enchroma lenses. Worth a stop if you are visiting the Great Smoky Mountains National Park (Ober Gatlinburg overlook), traveling I-26 between Asheville, NC and Johnson City, TN (I-26 overlook near Erwin, TN) or visiting the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area (near Oneida, TN just across the Kentucky state line from Daniel Boone National Forest).
This is a really good description of my experience. People have asked me how I can tell what color traffic lights are, and the answer is, because the red and green of a traffic light look very different from each other, so no problem. Maybe what I see isn’t exactly what you see, but in context I know which is which.
The weird thing for me is purple. Most of the time, the red gets lost to me so it just looks blue. Unless the red is really prominent, in which case it comes out kind of pinkish. I don’t think I’ve ever truly seen purple.