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Home » Eye Care Services » Children’s Eyecare Services » Color Vision Deficiency

Color Vision Deficiency

Red-Green Color Deficiency

color vision

Color vision deficiency is the inability to distinguish certain shades of color, particularly shades of red and green. It can range from mild to severe, and typically affects both eyes. The photoreceptors in the retina, known as cones, are responsible for the detection of colors. Each cone is sensitive to red, green or blue light. If one of these types of cones is missing key light sensitive pigments then you will be unable to see one or more of the three primary colors. Red-green color deficiency is usually an inherited condition, caused by a recessive gene that is passed from mother to her son.


Problems areas at different ages

Preschool and Kindergarten

  • Difficulty with color-coded educational material
  • May not see colored chalk on chalkboard well
  • Difficulty is seeing teacher’s marks on paper or books
  • Wrong choice of colors in color drawing (e.g. brown leaves/green trunk)
  • Incorrectly identified as slow learner by teachers or parents

Elementary School

  • Same as above, plus:
  • Teased by classmates when making color related errors
  • Difficulty matching socks or selecting appropriate color clothing in the morning
  • Difficulty with games which use color coding
  • Recognizing traffic signals when riding bicycle around the neighborhood

High School

  • Same as above, plus:
  • Reading litmus paper or titration in chemistry lab. Make sure you have a color normal partner.
  • Reading or creating color-coded maps
  • Buying clothing for themselves
  • Driving a motor vehicle
    • Traffic lights without position cues (e.g. single flashing red or yellow light could be confused.) Ask your passenger to confirm.
    • Green signal lights may appear white
    • May not see red taillights or brake lights well

Young Adult

  • Same as above, plus:
  • Selection of ripe fruits in grocery shopping
  • Assemble or repair home electronic appliances that require color codes
  • Possible color vision deficiency in children
  • Career limitations


There are a variety of tests used in the exam room to test color vision at different ages.

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