Random Thoughts from TasT
How Color Deficient Vision Has Affected Me.
Published on October 22, 2004 By TasT In Health & Medicine

I am colorblind.  My question is do you really know what this means?  For the majority of those reading this I would guess that you don’t have a real understanding of it.  For this article I am not going to go into the detail of the affliction mainly because that stuff is just too boring.  At the end of the article I’ll give you a list of links for those of you who are interested in the particulars. What I want is to give you an understanding of what 8% of us guys and .4% of women that are colorblind (color deficient vision) go through on a day-to-day basis.


To begin with we need to understand that colorblindness is not vision is grayscale or black and white vision for the majority of those with the problem.  It is simply the inability to distinguish the small differences in shades of red, green, yellow and sometimes blues and purples.  For most people who are colorblind these are insignificant problems for the most part. 


So lets go through my usual day.  When I get up in the morning I do all the normal stuff that you would do till it comes to picking out my clothes.  This is the first place that things can get harry.  Before I was married I had to go to clothing stores that have a helpful staff.  Knowing that 8% of guys are color deficient also I tried to make sure I was waited on by women, most of which were very kind and helped me match clothes and would let me know what other pants would match a shirt or jacket and of course help me with those annoying ties.  This was quite expensive, but you have to do what you have to do.  Since I started dating the woman that would become my wife, she has taken over those duties.  This has greatly reduced my clothing bill!  It has also allowed me to buy clothes on my own on occasion and then bring them home to ask what they match with.


Next on the agenda is getting in the truck and going to work.  Not a big deal for 91.6% of the population.  It’s not a big deal for me either, just don’t ask me the color of the traffic lights, the answer will scare you.  In my daily drive I Go on white, Stop on pink and use Caution on yellow of course.  In recent months the local road departments have replaced many of the traffic lights with the LED style light that are easier for me to distinguish but still the same colors to me.


Once at work things are more interesting, I work in a power Plant.  I watch several multicolor displays all day in which some of the colors are hard for me to distinguish.  In this case I have memorized the positions of the different colors on the charts and indications.  I have been doing this successfully for 13 years so I must do a pretty good job.  To clarify this I could not be an electrician or a chemist where the subtle differences in a color are very important.  Operating the power plant is a position where I can simply memorize the 2 or three indications that are hard for me to see and I’m fine.  Also in the past couple of years the plant has updated the indications so that instead of seeing a line on a chart I have digital numbers to look at which has helped to make the job much easier for me.

Once I have made my way home things get back to normal, I am still colorblind but it generally doesn’t come up unless I’m doing some kind of design work.  I that case I draw in grayscale then, color in.  After the design is complete I have someone check to make sure everything looks good.  Normally it is, however on occasion I have to change the shade of a color to make it right for everyone with normal color vision.

Those of us with color deficient vision live life the same as you and see color, just not like you do.  I have many times wondered what you all see, but after reading some studies about glasses that could correct color vision for some people, I have decided that I like the world the way that I see it.  The studies indicated that most people that were helped by the glasses would only wear them when needed, because they didn’t like the “distorted” view of the world through the glasses.  I wish I could give you a link to those studies but after searching I haven’t been able to find any.  If I do I will update the article.


Things to consider if you find that a friend or significant other is colorblind.


Do not ask them what color is this, what color is that?  This is the most annoying thing people do after finding out that you are colorblind.  Most people go on for 5 –10 minutes asking what the color of different things are.  Anymore I just tell them the color at the other end of the spectrum most of the time.


Let the colorblind significant other choose the color of his/her own stuff.  We perceive color differently and many times a bright color such as yellow, Red (as in Dodge Ram or Chevrolet racing red) or odd colors such as pewter may trip the trigger of a colorblind person.  Also plain white and black are preferable to me.  Anyhow the person with normal color vision may not prefer our choice of color. 


However if you are married to a colorblind person try to subtly keep that person from having a closet full of just a few colors.  When I met my wife I wore almost exclusively 501 Levi’s in blue, black boots and belt and only white or black hat’s or caps in my time away from work so that any shirt that I had would match.  Even with the precautions I had a closet full of almost all white, black, blue and yellow shirts.


If some one your out with gets a color wrong try not to laugh, I fought with this for a long time.  Someone would say, “what do you think of that brown car” I would look around and see only a black one and say ‘did you mean that black one over there?”  Then it starts, I get laughed at for not being able to distinguish dark brown from black, and I’d get mad. Things would just go down hill for me from there.  Now days I just say “Hey look man, I’m color blind what model is the car you’re talking about?”


We don’t need sympathy, we can see the world in color it’s just a special version that the rest of you can’t see:



Colorblindness in Children.


GET THEM TESTED!  Trust me there is nothing worse than being in class and the teacher telling you over and over to use the purple marker not the blue one.  Or asking why is your grass in this picture red.  I have been there done that.  It is terrible, you think that you are stupid and back in the 70’s the teachers didn’t know any better than to think you were either defiant or stupid. 


The tests are simple and I would suspect that any family doctor could give at least the simple ones.  If diagnosed there are plenty of products out there to make life easier, such as markers, crayons and colored pencils with the color name written on them.  Believe me this makes life in school much easier or a colorblind child.


Sites of interest:


·        Colors for The Colorblind – Neat site that includes some of the dot tests for color blindness.

·        Hidden Talents Colorblindness – Another neat site with another test that can be done with colored pencils.

·        How The Color Deficient Person Sees The World – I hope this is neat for you, I’m colorblind so I’d need a, this is how a non-color deficient person see the world site!


on Oct 22, 2004
Very interesting article, TasT. I actually remember learning about color blindness in some class back in college, but you have really given such great personal insight into the condition. The anecdotes and information you've shared would not likely be found in any textbook. I find this all very interesting. I'm also going to give the links a look.
on Oct 22, 2004
Thank you,
That's what it's here for all I found on the web was clinical stuff. What some one needs when they find one of thier clidren or a new boy/girlfriend is colorblind is some insight into what it really is, how it affects a person and how to deal with it without upsetting the person.
on Oct 23, 2004
Very interesting article! I tested myself, and apparently I passed.
on Oct 23, 2004
Great article, should give people an insight into what it's like to be colourblind. (UK spelling I'm not dyslexic as well as being colourblind). It wasn't untill I was 15 that a specialist diagnosed the problem.
Being educated in Scotland in the 50's and 60's suffice to say the teaching staffs treatment was at times quite barbaric to say the least. Ignorance can be a terrible thing!