We are super excited to be the first and only practice in Oregon to bring you Enchroma – opening up a whole new world of color for people who have lived with colorblindness their entire lives. See the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fTpCTDwjHZQ&t=193s
While it is exciting and emotional to see someone experience the world in a completely new way, we are all wondering, how do these glasses work? First, one must understand how we see and perceive color to understand how Enchroma® glasses work.
Who is affected?
Millions of people worldwide are affected by color deficiencies. It affects in 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women. There are many types of colorblindness but the most common is a red-green deficiency. While colorblindness can be acquired most likely it is inherited. Often, the genes that influence the color of the eye, the photopigment, can be damaged or abnormal, this is when colorblindness occurs.
If the photoreceptor is completely damaged or missing the type of colorblindness is called dichoromat. These individuals have two working photoreceptors instead of the normal three.
A second type is called anomolous trichromat. These individuals have all three photoreceptors but one is shifted too close to the other. This makes it difficult to perceive normal vision or decipher between two colors, like red and green.
How does color vision work?
We have over 126 million photoreceptors in our eyes. Approximately 120 million are rods and 6 million are cones. Rods help us in dim lit conditions, help with motion detection and peripheral vision. Cones help us differentiate and see color. While there are many colors in the rainbow our eyes make do with 3 types of cones that are each more sensitive to just 3 colors or more accurately different wavelengths: blue (S cone), green (M cone), and red (L cone).
Each of these cones have photopigments that make them more sensitive to different parts of the wavelength. While there is quite a bit of overlap with the 3 types of cells each cell responds more strongly to one wavelength versus another. We are able to differentiate all type of colors when our brain takes in information from all 3 photoreceptors.
How do Enchroma lenses work?
For anomalous trichromats, enchroma lenses help to filter out and focus on certain parts of the photoreceptors, creating more separation between the different wavelengths of light so the brain can better decipher which color is which.
While these glasses do not work for dichromats it does not cure color deficiencies for anomolous trichromats either. What these glasses can do is intensify or make certain colors much more vibrant. Since there are many types of anomolous trichromats it can vary in terms of how much color change someone may notice. However one thing is for sure, for those who do notice a difference, what a life changing experience to finally experience colors in a completely new way.