Today, we received Alex's new Enchroma glasses for the colorblind. Enchroma is a company that makes outdoor sunglasses for colorblind children and adults, as well as indoor glasses for adults.
We had adjusted our expectations prior to the delivery of the glasses. Steve and I realized that one possibility was no improvement at all. But we had hoped for at least some improvement. Enchroma offers a 100% money-back guarantee, so there was no reason not to try these sunglasses out for Alex.
What Alex saw
Results depend on the severity of colorblindness and the conditioning of the eyes over days of wearing the glasses. In the video below, you will see that six-year-old Alex, who is a little bit overwhelmed, can see oranges correctly. But he still was not able to distinguish purple from blue.
Clarice helps Alex put on his new glasses.
Click here for the video or click on the image above.
(Note: the video runs long and shows our real results.
Also, I'm very close to delivering a new baby,
which is why I am so very pregnant in the background.)
Alex also has trouble with pinks and greys. In the video, he will identify our pink poodle stuffed animal as pink. Two years ago, Clarice gave this dog (one of her old toys) to Alex and told him that the puppy would help him sleep through the night. Back then, Alex told me that this toy was grey, despite the fact that Clarice calls the dog "Pinky Pie." I hope the glasses continue to help Alex see various shades of color correctly, like pink and grey.
There is no way we will send the glasses back. Any improvement in Alex's color spectrum is worth celebrating.
How Alex sees without the glasses
We believe that Alex is a moderate protan, which means that blues and yellows dominate his color field. They are also his favorite colors because they are the most vivid.
Moderate protananomly is also called red-green colorblindness because of struggles with shades of these colors. In Alex's case, he often sees reds as dull browns. He also often identifies shades of green as "light yellow" or "dark yellow."
Below is a normal color spectrum for those who can see colors well (on top). On the bottom is the color spectrum of someone with more severe red-green colorblindness deficiency. You can learn more from this website.
When you look at what should be the normal orange range for a protan, you can see why Alex said our tabby cat was green.
Here is Alex one year with ago, with Luigi, the stray orange tabby kitten who showed up at our house on July 4, 2016, and has never left.
Why children are hard to diagnose
Children listen attentively to their teachers and surrounding adults for "correct" answers, especially when they realize that their answers may not be accurate. Alex actually told our eye doctor that our cat was orange simply because he knew he was wrong about green. Here are some reasons your child may unintentionally make his colorblindness difficult to diagnose:
- His desire to please teachers and adults.
- His quick ability adapt by memorizing and making intelligent guesses about incorrect colors. (For instance, "dark yellow" could be a green item, so Alex may guess that something is green when it is not.)
- The desire to appear smart. This sounds trivial, but small children want their parents and teachers to be proud of them and this includes excelling in academics -- which includes learning colors in preschool and kindergarten.
- Not understanding that you see things differently from him/her.
How to find out if you are colorblind
If you suspect you or a loved one is colorblind, Enchroma offers a simple, online test that may help you determine the type of colorblindness you may have and the severity.
Alex is colorblind because I am a genetic carrier. My father is colorblind, and there is a 50% chance that our next son (due very soon!) will be colorblind, also.
Our invisible eyebrows are probably a genetic trait, also. :)
Women are much less likely to be colorblind than are men. Clarice, for instance, is not colorblind, but she could be (as I am) a genetic carrier.
Men of northern European descent tend to be colorblind more than the rest of the population. (You can read more about this here.) Later in life, the colorblind may take formal tests that preclude them from certain branches of military service or professions. For instance, the Air Force is mostly likely out of the picture for Alex's future.
Some famous folks with colorblindness include Paul Newman, Mark Zuckerberg,
former President Bill Clinton, and Prince William, Duke of Cambridge.
Colorblind people enjoy intricate patterns and solve puzzles by
finding interlocking shapes rather than by joining up similar colors.
I hope that Alex's eyes adjust further to his new sunglasses. For a long time, I have dreamed that he and I can enjoy together the orange, pinks, and purples of a gorgeous sunset.
I wrote this article as a mom who for years searched for answers I could not find from our ophthalmologists and pediatricians. I am not a scientist, nor did Enchroma pay me to write this article. I have shared my research and experiences in the hopes that it will help those of you who are concerned about loved ones who may be colorblind.
If you have questions, please feel free to leave a comment or email me at nicole (at) nicolettaarnolfini (dot) com.