Seeing Two Different Shades of Color Out of Each Eye

Hi guys, I have noticed sometimes that I see two slightly different shades of colors out of one eye when I close the other. It’s easiest to perceive if I am looking at something that is a soft white. When I close my right eye, the white has a slightly blueish tint to it, when I close my left eye, the white will have a slightly reddish tint.

Is there a name for this? Is this normal, am I insane, or do I have some special kind of vision? It’s been like this ever since I was a kid, and it still continues to this day.

NOTE: Please note that this thread was started in 11/2011 through 1/2012, revived in post #38 on 3/2013, and revived again in post #44 on 2/2014. If you’re replying to some of the older posts, just be aware. It’s being re-re-revived now because it’s been taken on by Cecil as a column for 30 May 2014, and I’m directed further posts to the newer thread:
Congrats, drewtwo99! – CKDH

If you are insane, then you have company. My vision is exactly the same. Right eye has a slightly reddish hue, left eye slightly blueish. I suspect this is perfectly normal.

I’m an artist who works with color all the time, and this phenomenon is exactly the same with me. Left is bluer, right is redder.

I have the same issue, in a different way, but I know what it is. My right eye has a mild cataract that’s discolored, giving that eye’s vision a yellowish tint.

Well, when shooting a video with multiple cameras, there is a prep procedure called white balancing. Just like it sounds, the two cameras are adjusted so a plain white surface looks exactly the same to both cameras. If you don’t do this, there are noticeable, even jarring differences between the two.

Haven’t thought of out this way before, but perhaps the two eyes aren’t perfectly white balanced?

Umm, so where’s the adjustment knob?

How common IS this, anyway? I’ve never mentioned it to anyone, because I figured they wouldn’t believe it. I notice it on the highway mostly. Pink tones from one eye, grey tones from the other. Weird.

I have this too. I’m also slightly colorblind and I had always assumed that one eye was simply “more colorblind” than the other. I have no idea if that makes any kind of sense though.

You can duplicate this effect by lying on your side for a few minutes and looking at a white field*.

From memory, the eye closest the ground sees a red hue. Maybe blood pressure differential causes the effect.

Does this work for anyone else or is just me?

  • like a white wall or piece of paper, not a paddock

I do it, too, but it’s not all the time. I think it’s just the random assortment of rods in your eye. Your brain normally compensates, but occasionally you catch it.

Whoa, weird! I’d never noticed this before, but y’all are right. Left eye slightly bluish, right eye slightly reddish.

Nitpick: It’s the cones on your retina that detect color, not the rods.

One thing to be aware of is the nature of how your rods and cones are stimulated. If one of your eyes is exposed to lighting or a color a bit more than the other, there’ll be a slightly noticeable distinction between the “tinting” between eyes. If it’s merely a case of overstimulation and persistence of vision, then over a few minutes, your eyes will equalize.

Ever put on those red/blue anaglyph 3D glasses? If you haven’t noticed before, after wearing them for a bit, take them off. Now close one of your eyes. If that eye was looking through the blue lens, everything should appear quite a bit more “reddish”. And the opposite for the other eye; the eye looking through the red lens will see everything a bit more “bluish”.

That said, my eyes appear to be equal in “white balance”. But due to all sorts of variables between your corneas, retinas, nerves and brain, I’m not surprised there might be a common condition that would create a slight imbalance between the paired eyes.

Yes, me.

Somewhere in the occipital cortex, I presume.

I experience this too, and I think we have had a thread or threads on it before. It seems to be common, or possibly even universal.

It may be to do with cone distribution. The proportions of red-sensitive to green-sensitive cones in the eye vary a lot from person to person,* and, within the foveal area of the retina, where they are found, the red and green cones are distributed in a very irregular way, seemingly at random but with a fair bit of clumping together of the same types. (The blue-sensitive cones, which are controlled by a different gene on a different chromosome, are distributed much more regularly). I am not aware of any studies on differences of cone proportions between the two eyes of the same person, but, given how random the distribution seems to be within a single eye, it does not seem too unlikely that the proportions of red and green cones might vary between the eyes of a single person.

Whether this would actually produce this effect is another matter, but maybe it would.

The other possibility is that the effect is caused by differences (impurities, or whatever) in the transparent parts of each eye: the vitreous or aqueous humor, and/or the lens or cornea.


*This has nothing to do with color blindness, which is caused by cones that do not work properly, As long as the cones are all working as they should, just because you have, say, more red cones and fewer green ones than the next guy, it does not follow that your ability to discriminate colors will differ measurably from his.


The last time I got glasses, I mentioned this to the optometrist. He said it was no big deal, but didn’t explain why it happened or what may have caused it. So, I appreciate the explanations posted here.

I remember seeing on a TV morning show a couple of years ago a teenager who the story alleged saw true colours for the first time by wearing glasses with different-coloured lenses.

I found these links, among a bunch of others I didn’t read, using this search on Scroogle:

“color blind” OR “colour blind” AND glasses

Colour-correcting lenses.

As an aside, this sentence in a Daily Mail story about colour-correcting lenses was a surprise:

Ohh! So many of us are having the same problem. But I have never heard of it before. Is that harmful in any ways? Except from professional purpose, has anyone faced any problem due to this in day to day activities? I am curious to know!

Another one chiming in with my right eye being slightly redder. I noticed this when I was probably 10 years old or so.
I’ve found the easiest way to demonstrate it to myself it to put my palm or fist between my eyes (against my nose), and then move my entire head back and forth while looking at something white. This way you can see the difference as you transition from one eye to the other instead of having to refocus if you trying to do it by closing one eye and opening the other.

I do not see any reason to think it would be harmful at all, even for “professional” purposes. (What professional purposes are you thinking of?) It is not like color blindness: it does not stop you from being able to distinguish colors perfectly well.

Frankly, I would not be surprised if it turned out that everybody would find that they experience this to some degree, if they really pay attention to the issue.