Wednesday, August 17, 2016

New Glasses Promise a Solution to Color Blindness

About 10 per cent of the population is color blind and simply can't perceive as many colors as those with normal vision. There has never been any way to correct the condition but now, a U.S. company claims they have created glasses that can open up a world of color to users. But some eye experts remain skeptical. Color blindness, or colour vision deficiency, as doctors call it, is more than just a nuisance. Most with the condition can't distinguish red from green and have trouble with aspects of everyday life. They can't become pilots, firefighters, electricians, police officers or take part in several other professions. An estimated 2.6 million Canadians are color blind, most of them men, because of a missing or mutated gene on their X-chromosome. There are different forms of the condition, but most people with a moderate form of red/green color blindness can correctly identify just five crayons from a standard box of 24. Now, the inventors of a brand of glasses called EnChroma say they have found a fix that is helping to bring the color back into users' lives. The EnChroma glasses don't work for every form of color blindness; in fact the company says they are effective in approximately 80 per cent of cases. But they say their glasses make colors appear brighter and more saturated. Users report that they can distinguish certain colors faster and more accurately. The company says the solution was discovered accidentally, when glasses provided to surgeons to help them distinguish tissue from blood during laser surgery also seemed to fix color vision. Devyn Vasseur is color blind and says the first time he tried the EnChroma glasses, he couldn't believe his eyes. "I looked up and I was like, Wow. Experiencing all these colors as an adult for the first time is indescribable," he says. Thanks to a series of testimonial videos showing people trying on the glasses for the first time, sales have exploded for the glasses, which cost about $400 a pair. "This year alone, we have sold over 10,000 pairs of eyewear," says Donald McPherson, the co-founder of EnChroma. But some ophthalmologists are skeptical, including Dr. Sam Markowitz of the Canadian Ophthalmological Society and Toronto Western Hospital, who says other products claiming to fix color blindness have come and gone. He would like to see hard research that show the glasses actually increase the number of colors users can see. "I would prefer to see validated color testing," he said. EnChroma says it's planning to do that and is also expanding into contact lenses that color-correct too. For more information, please visit: