Dr. Murray Feingold: A keen eye on common condition
Colorblindness is not rare and is usually a genetic condition. The majority of times, the woman is the carrier of the color blindness gene.
In this situation, there is a 50 percent chance that the mother's son will be colorblind and a 50 percent chance he will not. In the general population approximately 8 percent of all males are colorblind.
The daughters of a mother who is a carrier have a 50 percent chance of being a carrier and a 50 percent chance of not being a carrier.
The most common type of colorblindness involves red and green colors. People who have this type of colorblindness can see colors, but the colors are seen as shades rather than distinctly red or green.
A rarer form of colorblindness involves the colors blue and yellow.
The diagnosis of colorblindness can be made by the use of dot pattern tests or plates in which numbers are detected from a group of dots. A person who is not colorblind can easily identify the number that is present. However, a colorblind individual is unable to see the correct number.
In order to overcome their inability to distinguish certain colors, colorblind people learn various techniques and clues to compensate for their lack of color discrimination.
For example, because they have problems identifying red or green traffic lights, they learn to depend upon the location of the light and not the color.
Are colorblind individuals at a greater risk of being injury prone? A recent study showed the injury rate of colorblind children was no greater than that of children with normal vision.
The same study showed that, educationally, children who were colorblind did as well in school as their non-colorblind peers.
I am not aware of any study that documents that a colorblind person is unable to choose proper matching colors of clothing, but it makes sense that this could be a problem.
However, some of us non-colorblind individuals have been diagnosed as being colorblind by our friends, due to the poor color selection we make concerning the clothes that we wear.
Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of the National Birth Defects Center, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.