Color blindness, or the inability to distinguish between certain colors, is a fairly common condition, particularly among men. As a general rule, color blindness is inherited, but in some cases color vision problems can occur suddenly as a result of other factors. As with any changes in vision, a sudden occurrence of color vision problems should be brought to the attention of a qualified New York City ophthalmologist such as Dr. James Kelly immediately.
Types of Color Blindness
There are several types of color blindness, some of which are more common than others. The most common form is red-green color blindness, or difficulty distinguishing between reds and greens. About 8% of white males suffer from red-green color blindness. Less common is blue-yellow color blindness, and even rarer is achromatopsia, or an inability to see any colors at all. Most children are tested forcolor blindness at their first eye exam, since the ability to distinguish colors can be important in school.
Causes of Color Blindness
Color blindness is usually congenital. It is a recessive genetic condition, meaning that two genes for the disorder must be present in order for it to occur. Because the gene in question is found on the X chromosome, color blindness is much more common in men, where the condition can occur in the presence of a single recessive gene.
Color blindness can occur for other reasons, including as a side effect of certain diseases or medications. Some of these other causes include:
- Macular degeneration
- Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s disease
- Alcohol abuse
Some high blood pressure medications, as well as heart medicines, can cause color vision problems. Chemicals such as fertilizer can also lead to color vision problems after extensive exposure. In some cases, the ability to distinguish colors simply decreases with age.
If your ability to distinguish colors has changed, it could be a symptom of a serious underlying problem. For information about color vision problems, or to have your color vision problems diagnosed, please contact the New York City ophthalmology offices of James Kelly, MD, at the Kelly Laser Center.