I recently read a comment from a DCT reader who indicated that he had difficulty identifying a link on our DCT pages because he is color blind. I thought, there must be a method of changing colors or themes on a computer to improve vision for color blind people. I did a little research and came up with some methods that color blind individuals can try to improve their computer experience. However, not being color blind myself, I have no way of verifying how well these methods may work.
What Is Color Blindness?
Color blindness, also known as color vision deficiency (CVD), affects 300 million people worldwide. Of these, 95% are men. We are all born color blind, but, our color vision is usually fully developed by six months of age.
Normal color vision uses three types of properly functioning cone cells. Color blindness is not actually a blindness, it is a form of deficiency in the ability to see colors or differences in colors. There are three main types of color blindness ranging from partial to complete lack of color discrimination.
Red-Green Color Blindness
The most common type of color blindness (98%) is red-green color blindness. These individuals have difficulty distinguishing between certain colors such as yellow and orange, green and brown, pink and gray, or blue and purple. Red-green color blindness is usually inherited via X-linked recessive genes:
- Deuteranomaly is a reduced sensitivity to green light. It is the most common type of red-green color blindness. It makes green look redder
- Protanomaly is a reduced sensitivity to red light. It makes red look greener and less bright
- Protanopia is the inability to perceive ANY red light
- Deuteranopia is the inability to perceive ANY green light
Blue-Yellow Color Blindness
Blue-yellow color blindness is associated with the inability to see shades of blue. These individuals confuse blue with green colors and yellow with violet. These individuals have defects that affect the short-wavelength cone (S-cone) and are usually caused by age-related eye conditions such as glaucoma, or exposure to certain chemicals or medical treatments:
- Tritanomaly is a reduced sensitivity to blue light
- Tritanopia is the inability to perceive ANY blue light
Complete Color Blindness
In very rare cases, a person can be completely color blind, meaning they cannot see colors at all, only the intensity of light. This is called monochromacy.
Color Blindness Test
Are you color blind? There are many tests available online to check for color vision deficiency. Most are based on a method developed by Professor Shinobu Ishihara at the University of Tokyo who first published it in 1917. The tests use a circle of colored dots of varying colors and sizes where a number is clearly visible to those with normal color vision, and invisible, or difficult to see, to those with color blindness. I took the Enchroma online test, which claims to be the #1 test on the web, and it determined that I have normal color vision and can see up to one million distinct shades of color.
Windows Color Filters
Microsoft added color filters to Microsoft Windows in version 10. They are also included in version 11. Color filters change the color palette on the screen and can help you distinguish between objects that differ only by color. Microsoft added color filters for deuteranopia and protanopia (the two types of red-green color blindness) as well as tritanopia (blue-yellow color blindness). Microsoft also added color filters for grayscale, inverted grayscale, and inverted color scale. If you are color blind or have another type of vision impairment, one of these color filters may help.
Windows 10 And 11
To access color filters in Windows 10 and 11…
Right-click on the Windows Button from the Taskbar and select Settings or type the Win-I key combination.
Select Accessibility (Win 11) or Ease of Access (Win 10) and Color Filters.
Slide the Color Filter toggle to On.
Select a color filter. The choices are:
- Reg-green (green weak, deuteranopia)
- Reg-green (red weak, protanopia)
- Blue-yellow (tritanopia)
- Grayscale inverted
There are also extensions that claim to help with color blindness. They may work better than Windows’ Color Filter.
Here are two extensions for Chrome-based browsers: Chrome, Brave, Edge, Vivaldi, Opera, etc.
Colorblind – Dalton for Chromium
Here are two extensions for the Firefox browser.
If you are color blind, please let me know in the comments what type of color blindness you have and if any of the above methods helped.