Welcome to The Bright Eyes Podcast: Advice for Healthy Vision for All Ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford & Dr. Beth Knighton, residency-trained optometrist that provide eye exams for glasses and contacts, and specialty services including vision therapy, myopia control, orthokeratology, and sports vision training. Their mission to empower patients by providing the best in friendly, professional, and individualized eye care.
In this episode, Dr. Nate talks with Dr. Jeff Goodhew of Abbey Eye Care about color vision deficiency (AKA colorblindness) and EnChroma glasses.
You can listen in the player below or read the transcript. The show is available via Stitcher, Google Play, iTunes, and the webplayer below. You can find all previous episodes here. If you have any questions or suggestions for future episodes, please email office@BrightEyesTampa.com.
The Full transcript:
Intro: 00:11 Welcome to The Bright Eyes Podcast: Advice for Healthy Vision for All Ages. Your hosts are Dr. Nate Bonilla-Warford & Dr. Beth Knighton, two doctors who really see eye to eye. They can help you get perspective of the latest visual scientific evidence for improving your vision and helping you keep your eye on the ball. We have real facts and aqueous humor, without making spectacles of ourselves. And don’t worry, the jokes don’t get any cornea than this, we promise!
Dr. Nate: 00:39 Hello, this is Dr Nate and this is the first international episode of the Bright Eyes Podcast. Today’s episode is all about color deficiency and EnChroma Lenses. And I have special guest. His name is Dr Jeff Goodhew and he practices at Abby Eye Care in Toronto, well outside of Toronto. Where exactly are you, Jeff?
Dr. Jeff: 00:59 I’m in a suburb I guess a small town called Oakville were about half an hour outside of outside of Toronto.
Dr. Nate: 01:04 And in my understanding, you were the first practice in Ontario to provide Enchroma lenses. We were also the first in Florida.
Dr. Jeff: 01:15 Ontario is a province, Florida is a state, so they’re just similar, similar entities. Ontario is probably 15 million people and we were the first retailers and the demand for this product is, has been huge. I think a lot of color vision or color blind people out there have known about this product and of course it’s sold from the US. So here in Canada, people were a little bit leery about ordering something online. What if it didn’t work? So there was this huge pent-up demand, uh, in our area and once we flip the switch and went live, we had always people phoning and emailing and stopping by. It’s been, it’s been crazy. It’s been good. It’s been awesome.
Dr. Nate: 01:52 Yeah, EnChrome is one of those things that I had been following for quite awhile and I had talked to other doctors and I had heard great things and I really am thankful that you took the time to talk to us about color vision and what EnChroma is. And I think this will be a great conversation. So Jeff, let’s just start off with the basics. When we say somebody is colorblind or we say they have a color vision deficiency, we don’t necessarily mean that they see the world in black and white, but they may see color differently than other people. When you see somebody in the exam room who has problems with color vision, how do you explain that to them?
Dr. Jeff: 02:28 Right. So, so patients, patients think of it as, as colorblindness. That’s the term that they’ve heard. And like you, I’m not a huge fan of the word colorblind because people think, oh, they’re going to see in black and white. I kind of changed the conversation and say it’s more color confusion. So certain reds and Greens are going to look kind of a muddy brown. So they’re, they’re, they’re gonna think right in green are the same. So I try to frame it as confusion here, your Color Palette is not as big as other people. Um, cause, cause colorblindness, I carries kind of a scary connotation for people at least that’s, that’s what I find. I try to turn it into something that’s not as scary as that.
Dr. Nate: 03:08 Yeah, I agree. And I think that that’s a great approach. I also think it’s actually more accurate even though the term colorblind is what people usually use a shorthand. I think your color confusion term is a great way to approach it. I have two practices. One that’s for all ages and the other one is exclusively for kids and so often I’m the first person to do an eye exam for these younger patients and I’m definitely the first person to detect color vision problems. And so it comes down to educating them about school and occupational options and other factors. I’m not exactly sure when you graduated from school, but you went to Waterloo, one of the two optometry schools in Canada, if I’m correct?
Dr. Jeff: 03:08 Yes.
Dr. Nate: 03:47 And when I was in school, there weren’t a lot of options for people who had color vision problems. We took a lot of classes and we learned a whole lot about how your eyes work and how we see color, but in terms of what we could actually offer or patients, there weren’t really a lot of options. There issomething called an X-Chrome lens where you wear a colored lens in one eye and it helps people detect colors that they might not normally have seen, but it wasn’t really a very natural or helpful option.
Dr. Jeff: 04:13 No, exactly. The, you know, the X-Chrome lens was a was a contact lens that you could wear in one eye, it was deep, deep red, so cosmetically looked a little strange, but all it did was allow certain people to pass some of the standardized color vision test so maybe they could get into the police force or become an electrician or a commercial pilot. So they would wear this lens just for that color vision test and then never wear it again. This is the first product that’s out there that can actually enhance a person’s, you know, quality of life. What I’ve observed about EnChroma is unlike the X-Chrome Lens, you can’t get patients to take them off. Yes, even though they’re tinted, they become their full-time glasses. Agree completely.
Dr. Nate: 04:53 Yeah. There was a patient who just happened to be the husband of one of our staff members and the first day that we got EnChroma, he had come in for his eye exam, so he put on the EnChroma, fit over testing glasses and he went outside and it’s Florida, so we always go outside and look at the plants and the flowers and look at the buildings stuff.
Dr. Jeff: 05:15 Stop rubbing it in. The flowers are just starting to come out as we as we record this.
Dr. Nate: 05:20 Well good. Yeah, but it’s something that really helps them see the subtle differences between the bright leaves and the more orangy ones and the green. And he was really excited about being able to see the different colors and he actually took those fit over years with them and we had an event where we’re going to, as a staff, go to the Tampa Bay lightening game and I saw him later that day and he wore them the whole game and now he’s got his own prescription pair and he wears them all the time. I never seen him without them. You know, he really likes him, but I think we’re getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. We’ve mentioned EnChroma several times, and these are glasses that people can where they can get them in their lenses, their prescription glasses in different frames, but why don’t you talk just briefly about what they are and what they do.
Dr. Jeff: 06:09 We need to back up a little bit and go back to your first question about what is colorblindness? I think for the lay person, we’ve got three color receptors I guess at the back of the eye in your retina, sort of a blue sensor, that green sensor in a red sensor, and normally with folks who have have colorblindness, the lights, the colors of the red and green receptors can pick up they overlap so they don’t get that differentiation between the reds and the greens because those two sensors aren’t doing their jobs the way they should. And with EnChroma Lens, it’s got a special filters that that knock out very specific wavelengths are very specific colors of light and what that does is it separates what the green and red receptors can now detect, so it makes them more kind of a normal, what a normal color vision person would would would see. So yeah these lenses, they’re tinted so they look like normal sunglasses, but they’re much higher tech than that. They’re blocking very, very specific colors that allow those color sensors at the back of the eye to do the job that they’re normally supposed to do.
Dr. Nate: 07:21 Yeah It’s really elegant because I think that if you just look at the lenses themselves, they look like sunglasses, but it’s so precise and so specific when they’re filtering out that muddy, confusing overlap that you’re talking about, you know, you need some pretty sophisticated equipment to see the specific frequencies that they’re filtering out. You wouldn’t necessarily know what they’re doing if you just look at them. You know, it’s interesting because our brains are fascinating things and you know, in my experience when I go outside with patients and we’re talking with them and they’re looking around and everything, it almost never works instantaneously. It does take them a few moments to sort of compare and contrast and sort of realize what’s going on. And then they get kind of quiet, they get that sort of smile and their mouth kind of drops a little bit and then they’ll say like, oh, I thought this was that color, or now I realized it’s a totally different color. I see this whole pattern of things going on.
Dr. Jeff: 08:19 I would agree. We’ve had a couple of those kind of, you know, over the top Internet YouTube moments. But most people, it’s almost like sensory overload. They put the glasses on and they get to see these things for the very first time and their brain, their eyes or they’re just overwhelmed. They really don’t know what to do. So. they kind of go quiet, like, like you said, it’s almost like their demeanor changes and some of them get, you know, start to get excited. Some of them get quite emotional. So, um, we, we try not to hover over them and say, you know, what color is, what color is that? We just let them absorb, you know, to experience it because it’s, you know, we take this for granted for them it’s, it’s completely new and we just like, you, I just like to stand back and just watch the reaction, each patient’s different. But it’s, you’re right, it doesn’t get old and super fun to be part of that.
Dr. Nate: 09:10 You know, the closest think I think I’ve ever experienced to that is we provide vision therapy for a range of visual problems and I’ve worked with patients who’ve developed 3D vision for the first time in their life and when they’re trying to take it all in and they’re looking around and they’re trying to make sense of the things that, that they see. It’s just, it’s just really cool. You know, they don’t, uh, they don’t always have words to describe what they’re experiencing. And it really is an interesting thing.
Dr. Jeff: 09:41 We had a patient probably two months ago who drove about 90 minutes to come to our practice, came in with his wife, and I don’t know if you’ve found this, but they never come in by themselves ever.
Dr. Nate: 09:51 Right. It’s often the whole family, but it’s usually at least a spouse or a brother.
Dr. Jeff: 09:56 Yes, exactly. So it’s kind of a big outing for, for these folks when they come, when they come to our practice and this gentlemen put the glasses on and for 25, 30 years, the number of years he’d been married to his wife, he thought her eyes were blue and they actually weren’t blue, they were Hazel, so they had, you know, Brown with a better green and he just couldn’t see the green. So the first time ever he could see the true color of his, of his wife eyes and that was emotional for, you know, everybody in the whole office. So he, he ordered a pair of prescription EnChroma because he needs prescription, so that takes a couple of weeks to come in. So this was on a Saturday. Um, try the glass on, Love them Monday morning he drives all the way back to our practice, another 90 minutes, so three hours both ways just to try the Fittovers, just to try the samples again. He knew his glasses wouldn’t come in for another couple of weeks. He just wanted that experience again. And then two weeks later his glasses came in and we called him and it’s like he was sitting by the phone, 90 minutes later he was there like, this guy is so excited and like the other, you know, the spouse of your staff member. This patient hasn’t taken them off, they’ve become as regular eyeglasses.
Dr. Nate: 11:10 Yeah, that’s a, that’s a cool story for sure.
Dr. Jeff: 11:16 So here’s one thing I’ve noticed, and maybe it’s just me, but you’re a fellow optometrists or fellow eye doctor. But um, we’ve got some flower arrangements, unlike you, we need fake flowers for six months, six months of the year. So I’ve got some blue flowers next to some purple flowers and purple of course really is just blue with some red in it. And for some folks who can’t really see, red those blue and purple flowers look the same. They put the glasses on, all of a sudden they can see purple and they’ll actually call it purple. And for me I’m like, OK, you’ve never seen before. How the heck do you know that purple? So I think there’s a lot we still don’t know, but for me that’s always been interesting. How can you name colors that you’ve never seen it.
Dr. Nate: 12:00 Yeah, it’s, it’s fascinating. I think it’s really been an exciting and interesting experience. The other thing I’ve noticed just working with these patients is that everybody comes in with slightly different things that irritate them or you know, they have, they have different goals, you know, I mean, no, no two people are the same. So I think it’s very important for them to come in and try them personally and everybody has a different story and his different lifestyles and different goals.
Dr. Jeff: 12:28 I like, you know, patients will often tell their story on social media, you know, a couple days later maybe it will post on facebook about these Enchroma glasses that they’ve got and they’ll, they’ll, they’ll tag our office most times because their best where they got the glasses from.
Dr. Nate: 12:43 Right, right. Yes.
Dr. Jeff: 12:45 So it’s really fun to read what they talk about. It could be, you know, how overwhelmed they were. They saw how vivid red cars on the road look like on the drive home. They stop at the grocery store and they could, they did not have to ask somebody OK, can you tell me when she was the red pepper and the green pepper? Because to them they always look the same. Bananas don’t look all, you know, rotten anymore that you can, you can see the yellow. No peanut butter looks brown not green. So it’s really neat to see them document their first couple of days, uh, after having the EnChroma eyewear and then just to see the, how happy their friends and family are for them. Like they’ll get, you know, 40, 50 likes, I’ll have all these comments like I’m so happy for you. And everyone’s really emotional, like they’re so happy that this person, um, get some of the, the color world back I guess. Um, so that’s been, that’s been super, super cool is just to, just to kind of sit back and just read the stories that people are posting and how it’s affected their lives because every, you know, it’s one in 12 males of color vision problems. So we all, everyone knows somebody who has a color vision problem. So there’s lots of folks out there who can benefit from this, so I think, you know, helping spread the word about this exciting technology is, uh, is great.
Dr. Nate: 13:58 Well, Jeff, I appreciate you taking your time to help us out. Do you have any other thoughts and anything else you want to share before we go?
Dr. Jeff: 14:05 No, well, I guess I maybe just managing people’s expectations like this does not cure colorblindness. You can’t all of a sudden you don’t pass the test to become a police officer.
Dr. Nate: 14:05 Yeah. Right.
Dr. Jeff: 14:17 That being said, there’s still huge benefits in this, um, in this product in the sense that it improves your color fidelity, your color Palette expand. So, um, yeah but that, and we do tell patients that and they’re fine with that. They know that. But the funny thing is it, and you’ll probably find this, they all want to say the color vision test again.
Dr. Nate: 14:35 Yeah, you’re exactly right.
Dr. Jeff: 14:37 The glasses on every single one, even though we tell them you’re not going to pass the test, they all want to take it.
Dr. Nate: 14:42 So Jeff, I really want to thank you for your time and sharing your experience and your expertise and that’s been really wonderful and thanks to all of our patients and listeners we’ll post some information about EnChroma on the website in the show notes so you can follow that online. There’s information, there’s an online color vision test that you can take. There’s different things you can do. As always, if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions about our podcast, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Until next time, this is Dr Nate. Thanks for listening.
Outro: 15:13 Brought to you by Bright Eyes Family Vision Care and Bright Eyes Kids. Find previous episodes and more detailed information at BrightEyesTampa.com creative Commons, copyright attribution, non-commercial use. The only purpose of this podcast is to educate and to inform. It is no substitute for professional care by a doctor experienced in the area you require. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. Please consult your physician for diagnosis country.
Intro/outro music: Lucas Warford of Three For Silver.