Ophthalmology & Optometry/Color Blindness


QUESTION: I am 32 and male and haven't been to an eye doctor in a long time due to money troubles. I was wondering in what way color blindness might travel from one generation to the next. I think my uncle might be color blind, and I am honestly not sure of whether or not I am. I am in a lab tech program and was given the chance to see test tubes of blood and was told one of them was greenish in color, but I had trouble telling the difference between many of them. I mean I can tell the difference easily enough between a red and green traffic light, but maybe there is a test I could have done to determine to what degree I might have developed this brand of difficulty? Also when does color blindness typically onset?

ANSWER: hi James,
you should read on the web about color vision and color deficient vision.  For inherited color deficient people,most are men, and it comes via the x chromosome from the mother who got it from her dad or mom.  However, as a recessive trait, it takes either both x chromosomes in a female to make them color blind, or if a man only the mom's x since dad gives the Y.  You probably can't be a lab tech if you have to see color, but if the machines do it for you maybe you can.  you will have to inquire with the people that you would work for.  Stop lights are different in that the brightness and position of the bulb in the fixture help to hint for you.  There are color tests you can view online with your computer, but though they are not accurate they may inform you that you are a typical red/green color deficient man whose mom had normal color vision but whose uncle did not.
Mitch Axelrod, OD

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Do typical eye doctors have tests to measure color range and distinctions in people? Or just the letter chart mostly to see if things focus well?

hi James,
Most eye doctors have a book of colored numbers called 'pseudoisochromatic plates' in a dot matrix pattern that can identify the common inherited color abnormalities .  the colored dots appear different or the same depending on the defect #or not#.  However, schools of optometry have more sophisticated devices for color matching.  There is a quite elegant color test called the Farnsworth D15 that some doctors will have that is more complete than the book as well.  So make some phone calls now!
Regards and Happy New Year!
Mitch Axelrod, OD

Ophthalmology & Optometry

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Mitchell Axelrod


I'm happy to answer questions about eye exam findings and procedures, glasses and contact lens types/prescriptions/problems. I can also answer questions about general eye conditions/diseases. I do not answer questions concerning surgical techniques/procedures. Please state your age or within a small range when asking questions, as it is often important.


Optometrist 19 yrs.

Doctor of Optometry, cum laude; Residency in Ocular Disease

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