In Living Color: Glasses Providing Color to the Colorblind

Color vision deficiency, otherwise known as CVD or colorblindness, may soon be obsolete. EnChroma, a company developed in Berkeley, California, is now marketing glasses that can potentially enable the colorblind to see color.

Giving the Rainbow to the Colorblind

CVD affects approximately 1 in 12 men (8%) and 1 in 200 women around the world. According to Don McPherson, Enchroma’s chief scientist, the “glasses have lenses containing a special vertical filter that blocks out certain wavelengths, which helps the brain make distinctions between colors.” The discovery came about after a game of Frisbee between McPherson and his colorblind friend. He allowed his friend to borrow his glasses, which were initially meant to serve as protective eyewear for surgeons. “For the first time in his life, he could see and differentiate these two things and the little light bulb went on above my head,” said McPherson.

Color Efficient

In order to test the accuracy of the glasses, scientists administered color tests on participants before and after wearing the glasses. For every participant, the results for both tests were similar. “Dr. Mark Fromer, an attending ophthalmologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York, doesn’t believe these glasses can change the color-blind eye’s ability to see true colors,” according to ABC news. McPherson and his team have been unable to prove that EnChroma glasses cure color blindness, however, “they help people perceive colors better,” said McPherson.

Aaron Williams-Mele, for example, was gifted a pair for his birthday. He wore the glasses for the first time at a beach in Norfolk, VA, which was a tear-jerking experience for him. “Immediately after putting them on, Williams-Mele’s smile melts right off his face. His bewilderment is incredible to watch. His jaw trembles as he tries to find a way to explain what most people take for granted,” said Fletcher Babb, writer for Venture Beat.

Due to the innovative idea behind the glasses, the company already faces competition. EnChroma glasses for the colorblind cost up to $450 per pair and are selling fast. “As soon as we order 500 or 1,000 pairs, they are sold.”

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