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Currently, there is no cure available for color vision deficiency that is present from birth. However, supportive tools, such as glasses, contacts, and visual aids, can help people navigate color perception.

Color blindness develops when an individual cannot perceive all parts of the color spectrum. This means they have difficulty distinguishing different colors or shades of the same color. There are three different types of receptors called cones at the back of the eye. They feed information on colors in the environment to the brain, which then interprets them.

However, in those with color vision deficiency, one or more types of cones may be missing or not functioning correctly. Most commonly, this occurs due to inheriting a gene variation linked to color perception. However, some diseases and injuries can also cause color vision deficiency.

At present, no full treatment can repair inherited color vision deficiency. However, several interventions can help make life easier for people with the condition.

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Glasses for color vision deficiency aim to increase the contrast between colors for those with milder red-green color vision deficiency. This is the most common type, and it can make it difficult to distinguish between reds and greens. In its most severe form, people with red-green color blindness cannot tell the difference between red and green at all.

Manufacturers make these glasses from certain minerals that filter out some parts of the color spectrum. However, according to the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO), these are more effective for some people than others and may depend on the type and severity of the condition. The glasses also do not fully render color vision for people who use them.

A 2022 meta-analysis notes there is not currently enough evidence to support the use of specialized glasses.

For those who wish to try them, the glasses’s effects last during use, but they do not change the cone receptors or the brain. The AAO advises the following precautions.

  • Avoid wearing the glasses at night or while driving, as they reduce night vision.
  • The glasses can be expensive, and insurance often will not pay for color vision deficiency glasses, as the condition does not damage overall health.
  • Other devices can help improve contrast between colors, but they are not the same as glasses for improving symptoms of color vision deficiency.

According to a 2018 study, contact lenses could be a promising solution for managing color vision deficiency. However, people using color correction glasses who also need to wear prescription eyewear may not be able to use both at the same time.

Certain visual aids, such as apps and computer features, can also help people with color vision deficiency.

For example, Color Blind Pal and ColorAssist Lite are apps that provide a text description of colors in photos users capture with their smartphone’s camera.

A 2022 study of Color Blind Pal’s use in student chemistry labs found the app could correctly identify Bunsen burner flame and compound colors. This means students could gauge the outcomes of chemical reactions using the correct color.

Other apps, such as Visolve, can adjust color saturation to improve how people may perceive colors on a computer or phone screen. Windows and Apple also both provide color vision deficiency settings on their computers.

Currently, no gene therapies for color vision deficiency are available. However, researchers are making progress in managing inherited color vision deficiency through gene therapy.

Using an MRI, a 2022 study measured how the brain and cones functioned in four children with complete color blindness before and after a gene therapy injection. Two of the children showed brain and cone activity that does not occur in people with complete color blindness and would not have occurred without the injection.

The effects on older children or adults remain unclear, and the study did not assess whether more common types, such as red-green color blindness, would respond to gene therapy.

Some health problems can cause color vision deficiency to develop later in life. Treating or managing these conditions can reduce or resolve color blindness symptoms.

These include:

Certain medications can have toxic side effects that increase a person’s risk for color vision deficiency, including:

  • antibiotics
  • anti-tuberculosis drugs
  • barbiturates
  • high blood pressure medications
  • medications for nervous disorders

A doctor can reduce the dosage or switch the medication to another if this occurs.

People in a home, educational, or professional environment can make accommodations to include those who perceive color differently.

Schoolteachers can make classrooms more color-vision-deficiency-inclusive with the following measures:

  • replacing colored markers or chalk with black markers on a whiteboard or white chalk on a blackboard
  • making high contrast, black-and-white copies of handouts
  • avoiding the use of colored paper
  • adding patterns or labels to colors, or writing out the names of colors if they relate to specific instructions
  • labeling the colors on art supplies or other supplies

Occupational adjustments will vary depending on the industry, the individual, and the type and severity of color vision deficiency. Some people may not need workplace adjustments or the job may not require them. A person can speak to an employer about adjustments that may help, including:

  • using labels, where necessary
  • facilitating the use of glasses or smartphone apps
  • having a colleague or assistant identify colors
  • having color contrast overlays
  • offering additional training time or refreshers

At present, no treatment can fully cure inherited color blindness. However, research is ongoing, and gene therapies are showing some promise.

Supportive tools and devices may help. For example, specialized glasses or contact lenses can help make colors clearer for some people. Additionally, apps, such as Color Blind Pal and ColorAssist Lite, can label colors in images for their users.

People can treat acquired color vision deficiency by managing the underlying conditions or talking with a doctor about changing their medications.

Establishments, such as schools, can also support people with color vision deficiency by making accommodations, including using black ink or labeling colors.