How Glasses Correct Colorblindness

They say a rose is a rose is a rose. But if that rose is red, it might look brown or green to someone who is colorblind. At least until recently. The fix? A special pair of glasses.

There are three types of colorblindness: red-green, blue-yellow and complete (which is very rare). The innovative specs were created specifically to help those with red-green colorblindness, the most common form of color vision deficiency. Red-green colorblindness affects up to 8% of men and 0.5 percent of women with Northern European ancestry, or 300 million people worldwide. Men are much more likely to be colorblind than women because the gene is inherited through the X chromosome. Women have 2 X chromosomes, allowing a functional gene on one X chromosome to cancel out the defect on the other X chromosome.

So how do the glasses work? When we look around us, we "see" color when the red, green and blue color-sensing cones in our eyes translate light's varying wavelengths. But if  the light wavelengths that our eyes are absorbing will overlap more than normal, muddling color discrimination.

Colorblind folks also often see bland colors. This has numerous implications, from making a colorful salad dish look unappetizing to being unable to appreciate the splendor of a garden in full bloom. Thus, many colorblind people could benefit from a pair of special specs.