Monday, July 17, 2017

Living In Technicolor

I've always been partially colorblind though I never knew it until I was almost into my teen years. I was sitting on my grandparents screened in back porch and everyone was discussing how many apples were in the tree and I couldn't see a single one. If I stared, I could see the occasional outline of an apple but I couldn't distinguish the red from the green at a distance.

I've learned to live with it over the years. I deal with the questions of "What color is this?" but for the most part always give the correct answer. I know what color of tan looks like a light shade of green to you. I also know what color of reddish brown leaves looks a brilliant red on a maple in the fall. I know the colors but just can't see them in the same way.

I think I first saw it on the evening news when they showed a clip of a man trying on glasses meant to help the colorblind see colors as the rest of the world. The man broke down in tears seeing colors for the first time. Since then the internet has been flooded with videos of similar reactions among other colorblind folk. I took the online test for one company and it said that maybe their glasses could help me but it wasn't guaranteed. My type (and there are many types) of colorblindness was only partially helped based on past experiences. I mulled it over awhile and waited until this spring after my eye appointment and correction change before finally biting the bullet and ordering a pair of the glasses.

I suppose thanks to the clips on the news and internet, they were overwhelmed with orders and I was told to expect them in 5 to 6 weeks. At six weeks, I called to check on the status of the order but was always put into a digital answering machine and told to leave a message so they could call back. They never did the first, second or third time I left a message. I searched online for a way to contact them in another form but their site was mysteriously void of contact information other than the one number that always went to voicemail. Fortunately, I looked back through my emails and saw that the "lab" had sent me an email shortly after placing my order asking for my prescription. So I responded back with a polite email at the beginning of week 9 stating that unless I heard back by the end of the week I would be filing a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. The next morning they emailed back to say my glasses were completed and in the mail, no mention of the lack of response up to this point.

A few days later they arrived and I put them on. It wasn't an overwhelming response and I didn't break down in tears. It did however partially work. I immediately noticed that the siding of my house wasn't a shade of greenish tan but a brownish tan. I could also spot rose blossoms among the mass of green bushes on the back side of the house. But mostly it just made colors that I could sort of tell much more vivid in color. I googled color blind tests and pulled up many images like the one above. For the most part, I still can't see what is in the above image or any of the others that I can't see without the glasses. But on the images where I can just make out something without the glasses, I can see the images much more clearly.

So it appears that while it doesn't cure my form of partial colorblindness, it can correct some of the affects and make colors appear more natural. I've been wearing them and seeing shades of colors on things that I have been misidentifying for many years. Although I probably won't wear them all the time since they are sunglasses, I do plan to wear them when I am out and about and am excited to see some leaf color in the fall where I know I've always been deficient.


Kelly said...

If not an overwhelming improvement for you, at least it wasn't a total bust. I hope you'll give us a follow-up report when the fall foliage is in its full glory.

(I see a boat with a sail in the pic. That's what I'm supposed to see, right?)

Ed said...

Kelly - I will. As for the picture, I will take your word for it since I only see random dots.

Susan said...

I see a sailboat, too. I've never known anyone who was color blind - I hope these glasses even the playing field a bit. Isn't it too bad when you have to resort to (mild) threats to get any satisfaction?

sage said...

Yep, I see the boat, too. I'm glad you can see at least see a few more colors and we can keep hoping for more developments.

Pumpkin Delight (Kimberly) said...

Wow! I had no idea there were glasses for this sort of thing. I'm glad they helped some, at least they weren't completely worthless. We have those little cards (numbers and letters) and give the colorblindness test to all of our boys in Kindergarten and/or first grade to identify it quickly, Clearly, it didn't seem to hinder your education or learning abilities as you seem to be an intelligent, well-read person. But I wonder if there were times in your learning that not seeing color the same way as others made learning more difficult? I feel like we can have an understanding of what a blind person or deaf person experiences, but color blindness has always been hard for me to grasp. It's interesting to hear your account of it.

BrightenedBoy said...

What at an amazing idea, that someone could be seeing colors for the first time. Glad you've found something that enhances your color vision, even if only a little. I've long suspected I'm very mildly color blind, as I have difficulty distinguishing between subtle shades on maps and in comparable representations. I also have a cousin who has significantly impaired color vision, though thankfully it seems my own cause is very, very slight.

Vince said...

Out of curiosity I did an online test and it seemed I don't have colour blindness. But one of the things I've noticed is when I've lived with girlfriends and I say something like a bottle is green that are quite likely to say it's blue, and v-v.
Great to read they's something, but where I'd have issues is with the uncertainty.

Ed said...

Susan - I suspect it was a one person operation who hit upon a great idea but was just totally unprepared for the response.

Sage - I'm sure I will blog about it again in the future.

Pumpkin Delight - I don't think it hindered me ever because I was in my early teens before I realized that I didn't see things in the same way as others. For me with only partial color blindness affecting the ends of a couple different color spectrum, it really hasn't been a detriment and more of a curiosity to those who know me. But I can definitely see how it might be for those who have more severe forms than I do.

BrightenedBoy - Difficulty distinquishing between subtle shades is a great description for what I have. If interested, google Enchroma and take their online test to see if their glasses can help your type. Just be prepared that if you order some, it will take a long time and perhaps a threat or two. By the way, thanks for dropping by and leaving a comment!

Vince - That sort of thing happens to me all the time. As I got older and realized through observation what colors normal sighted people see, I have learned to associate say the color of dark blue that I see that others call purple. I've gotten good enough at it that most people have no idea of my color deficiency unless they spend quite a bit of personal time with me.

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