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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:09 AM   #1
Doctor Q
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What it's like to be color blind

You probably see a 3 in this image, but approximately 3000 to 4000 MacRumors members do not. They are color blind.

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About 5% to 8% of men/boys and about 0.5% to 1% of women/girls are color blind, which means they have a deficiency in their perception of color. The rate of occurrence varies depending on ethnic background and ancestry, differing from country to country.

I am color blind.

I've been red-green color blind since birth. Technically, I have congenital dichromatic protanopia. Translation: I can't see red. I see no numbers in the color circle above.

As a result, I usually can't distinguish blue from purple, because they differ by the presence of red. Dark red and dark brown look the same. Some shades of green look brown to me while other shades of green look orange. To me, pink and gray are practically identical. If you analyze the shades that confuse me, it's usually two colors that have similar intensities but differing amounts of red.

I've always claimed that this is why I'm usually in a good mood. I'm very slow to anger because you won't make me "see red".

My grandfather was born color blind. My mom was born a color blindness carrier. My brother and I, who each had a 50% chance to have normal vision, both lost the coin toss and were born color blind.

I'm not embarrassed to talk about being color blind. It's an almost-harmless affliction. It doesn't hurt, it's unlikely to ever be life-threatening, the typical problems are simple to solve, and anybody I ask for help with colors is glad to help.

I like to laugh at my own color mistakes, such as mismatching my socks or talking about my "blue duffel bag" that turned out to be purple.

Go ahead and ask me questions about being color blind, because I'm curious what people would like to know. And anybody else who is color blind (or has a color blind friend or relative) is welcome to speak up too.

I maintain a List of Color Blind MacRumors Members for forum members who have said that they or a family member are color blind.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:11 AM   #2
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I don't see anything in the image either. I try to tell people I'm more of an 8 Crayola kinda guy. You'll never hear me refer to something as "Maroon" or "Navy Blue". I just call things by the standard 8 colors in the small Crayola box.

My earliest rememberance of knowing I was "color blind" was that I took a math test somewhere around 2nd or 3rd grade and failed the test. My teacher knew that I excelled in this subject went over the test with me so I could explain my incorrect answers. My problem? I couldn't add the blue and pink marbles correctly because I also added the purple ones. Can't remember the exact colors to be honest but it was something like that.

It really doesn't do much with day to day life. I would say the worst part for me is on occassion I'll think a street light is a "green light" from far away but well before I get to the intersection I've figured it out.

One other thing is on some games (like Snood) it can be hard to tell maybe a green/yellow apart. Some of these games have a "color blind" mode which I always appreciate.

I would have to say that an unconscious side effect is that I've noticed I'm less prone to actively noticing colors than people who are not "color blind". But maybe that's just a me thing period.

Also... the obligitory wikipedia link
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:20 AM   #3
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My father is red-green color blind as well. Which means my sister is a carrier. He didn't know he was color blind until he went into the Air Force.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:25 AM   #4
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Iam also and it sucks, when i look at the circle i see no nothing. Though i can see red and green i cannot distinguish well between the shades.

I just called my son in here to see a number and he does he sees a 3 i see a bunch of colored circles not a hint of 3 for me.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:30 AM   #5
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Can I make the assumtion that the color blind people are not graphic designers? Interior designers?
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:31 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freeny
Can I make the assumtion that the color blind people are not graphic designers?
I have a friend that does graphic design and sometimes he will ask me to look at something for him because he knows that I *will* see it different. I'm useful!
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:34 AM   #7
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My mother is one of those 0.5-1% of women who are colour-blind.

Strangely, she's very good at putting house interiors together - but I guess, looking back, they've always been relatively neutral rather than focused around reds or greens.

It is often amusing when out shopping with her though when she picks up something which I know she wouldn't be seen dead in but she's misread the colour as something else.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:35 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilentPanda
I have a friend that does graphic design and sometimes he will ask me to look at something for him because he knows that I *will* see it different. I'm useful!
When I need to see something Ive been working on from a new perspective, I use a mirror. Perhaps having a color blind person around would save me the hassle.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:37 AM   #9
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Kind of ironic that red and green are a common problematic colour pair for people who are colourblind, and yet what colour are traffic lights..

I never thought I was colour blind, but apparently I am. I did a colour blindness test back in primary school and recognised 0/10. I remember coming out of that test confused and asking everyone what the hell I was supposed to be looking for!

My biggest problem actually is differentiating between dark colours and black actually. Dark green or navy both look like black to me.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:40 AM   #10
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^^^

This is why traffic lights are arranged the same way in every country worldwide.

red
yellow
green
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:45 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freeny
Can I make the assumtion that the color blind people are not graphic designers? Interior designers?
Funny thing is my grandfather was colored blind ands yet he was a painter, landscape artist and his stuff was stellar. Made his living selling art.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:45 AM   #12
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I guess I'm not the only one!

I know the positions of the three lights in U.S. traffic signals, so I don't have to worry about green/yellow/red there. But if I come to a single flashing yellow or red light, I don't know whether to slow down (yellow) or stop (red). So I ask my passenger or, lacking a passenger, do what I see the other drivers do. If there are no other cars, I stop, just in case.

The rightmost two of the three buttons at the top left of this Safari window look the same to me, but I know which is which by position.

I do graphics work as part of my job, but I use RGB coordinates rather than rely on my vision to select colors. I can't use most "red eye" tools because I can't tell when a photo has red eye or when it's been fixed.

For me, picking out a tie to match a dress shirt is almost impossible. I don't wear ties often, but I've always brought along somebody color sighted when I needed to buy one.

When people toss around politically correct terms for disabilities, like the phrase "differently abled", I like to use my own silly one. I say I'm chromatically challenged.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:46 AM   #13
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Interesting, I'm not Color Blind, but I can't see anything in that or others... I suppose, maybe my eye sight is just bad (well my iSight works great)
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 10:57 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freeny
^^^

This is why traffic lights are arranged the same way in every country worldwide.

red
yellow
green
Not always. Sometimes the bastard engineers put the damn things sideways! That really screws me up. Or, coming up to an intersection with a flashing light I always slow to a crawl since I'm not sure if it's yellow or red.

My most embarrassing moment was in first grade. I was the first one done coloring a Christmas tree project and I took it up to show the teacher. Then she asked me (in front of the whole class, mind you) "Why did you color your Christmas tree brown?" Because that's what color they are. "No, Christmas trees are green," she said. I was so embarrassed. She should have known better since being colorblind was in my file from kindergarten.

Someone else mentioned not noticing colors and I don't really notice a person's eye color unless it's really striking in some way. An ex-girlfriend had these dazzling blue eyes and it was really the only time I'd ever noticed them on anyone.

And it really sucks when girlfriends decide to color their hair. They get all pissy when I don't notice. Hello! I can't see it! It just looks dark or whatever.

And no, I'm not a graphic or interior designer, nor a pilot or an electrician.

Check out this link, though - New software tackles colorblind challenges

http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/20...olorblnd_x.htm
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:09 AM   #15
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I went to get my eyes checked a few years ago and the doctor gave me the dot number test and I failed miserably as expected. Then he gave me these special lens filters to put in front of my eyes and I could see the numbers plain as day. It was amazing since they really popped off the page whereas before I couldn't see anything. It'd be nice if they could incorporate that kind of filter into regular lenses or even contacts.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:14 AM   #16
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Many women -- possibly over fifty percent -- have the opposite of color blindness: they have four photopigments, instead of the normal three. "Color Blind" = having only two or one photopigment.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:15 AM   #17
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I've tried imagining what it would be like to be color-blind, but it's always just baffled me. Your description of what it's like helps a lot, but it still just boggles the mind that you can't see the various shades of red and green. So blood looks brown or purple? Marcia Cross looks like a brunette to you??
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:20 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by floriflee
I've tried imagining what it would be like to be color-blind, but it's always just baffled me. Your description of what it's like helps a lot, but it still just boggles the mind that you can't see the various shades of red and green. So blood looks brown or purple? Marcia Cross looks like a brunette to you??
No, Marcia Cross looks like a redhead. It depends on the shade of red, but I'm really attracted to redheads. It's just tough to see when it gets to be auburn and all that.

I went through a punk phase after college and dyed my hair purple and it sucked because it just looked dark. Then I tried burgundy and it still just looked dark. It wasn't until I spiked it and dyed it flame red (a la Ziggy Stardust) that I could actually see it. My nephews said it looked like my head was on fire. Kept that for a couple years.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:29 AM   #19
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To me, caucasian skin looks green, because I don't see the pinkish component. I watched the Wizard of Oz movie many times as a kid, but learned only as an adult that the Wicked Witch (Margaret Hamilton) was green. My parents knew I was color blind but didn't realize something THAT obvious wouldn't be apparent to me, so they never pointed it out. Since all caucasians are green to me, she looked to me like everyone else in the movie.

That doesn't mean that everyone looks "weird" or "alien" or "sickly" to me. That's just what I perceive as normal. Healthy people and wicked witches look normal to me, because there is no difference.

On the left: Steve Jobs
In the middle: Steve Jobs as seen with poor red vision.
On the right: Steve Jobs as seen with poor green vision.

I assume that these look different to most of you, but I can barely see a difference between the first two. The middle photo shows how Steve Jobs and similarly "flesh-toned" people look to me.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:31 AM   #20
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I can see a VERY faint three in the picture in the first post.

Its really weird, on the wikipedia site I can see everything except for the 49 picture but I can make out the 4 and not the 9, but I have to work very hard at it.

Is there such thing as slight colorblindness? Because I'm also really good at picking out colors for things (A+ in art, baby!)

Edit: I just looked back, and didn't see it! Then, when I read it was a 3, I saw it! Woah, so basically, I can't see it until I know its there... strange...

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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:34 AM   #21
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I am fairly extreme deuteranopic victim and, like Doctor Q, have learned to live with it. My form means that, apart from the red/green blindness, I cannot register most other colours - certainly when they are in a mix of competing colours. Everything takes on a monchromatic appearance that is dictated by lighting conditions and whatever the predominant colour is. Except blue; blue I am good with and choose that for all of my clothes, especially shirts, and only have another colour if a VERY trusted friend chooses it for me.

it was diagnosed in me when i was 16 during a routine health-check at my school and --- well I was surprised! Except that it was always had been how I saw things and it had never impinged on anything up until then.

The biggest drawback that all of us suffer is that we are excluded (at least in the UK) from a number of occupations - airline pilots, train drivers, etc etc. It has impinged on my own career (biomedical reseach scientist) but there always seem to be work-arounds and there can be advantages.
For instance, without wanting to be too boring or techie, there is a technique (immunohistochemistry) commonly used that involves the microscopic visualisation, on thin tissue slices, of an antigen that is indicated by a specific deposit of a brown chemical (polymerised DAB). The amount of antigen present is proportional to the intensity of the brown deposit and normal-colour people can generally score the intensity on a + to +++ scale. The brown is against a backround of blue-ish (haematoxylin) and red-ish (eosin). Because, under these conditions, I don't register the blue and red, and I happen to have exceptional sensitivity to the brown, I can go consistently from a + to 12+ scale, which can be very useful.

One of the things that I am certain I would change, would be the ability to see fine art, say the ceiling in the Sistine Chapel. I know, because I did senior art at school, that good painters use a variety of 'tricks' and techniques to make subject matter be emphasised or contrast with other parts of the painting. I can nver see the painting as the artist painted it and appreciate its true visual value. Like the Sistine Chapel, all I can see is a superb set of graphic images with a monochrome in-fill; that is really sad.

I often find it irritating to be asked all the time, when the subject comes up, how I see things. I see them as I see them and, because I always have seen them like that, cannot explain it in relation to any other way. What colour is my (red?) coat? Sort of beige. Ha ha ha ha - so weird! It gets tiresome.

I also used to get asked how I coped with traffic lights (in the UK there are three lights arrnaged vertically; red at the top=stop, amber in the middle=get ready to do something and green at the bottom=go). Easy! If the light at the top was on - stop. Etc. Except that I was on the way home on my motorbike (a hand-built Rickman chassis Honda 4-cylinder, blown out to 810cc and fully Piper converted engine, single seater with the handle-bars down by the front wheel axle, Birani alloy wheels - awesomely fast machine) and had to go down a freeway that had a cross-road that was controlled by traffic lights. As it was winter, it was raining and it was night-time, the traffic lights, suspended across the road, became invisible to me within the competition from the sodium street lights. That was a bit hairy, as they were at stop and I nearly went straight across some crossing traffic.

I also do freelance web design and have to take serious advice from others about the colours that I use - except that I use mostly blues and keep the codes of the known matches. When I haven't taken advice, the results have been ---- interesting. As in inducing bilous attacks in the critics.

So, like Doctor Q, it is just something that you learn to live with and it really makes little difference to my own life-style. Explaining the nature of the defect to normal-colour people is very similar, to my mind, to explaining to committed Windows users why Macs are so much better. The really cannot understand.

I really would like to see some of those great paintings properly though.
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:35 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Doctor Q
The rightmost two of the three buttons at the top left of this Safari window look the same to me, but I know which is which by position.
Thats also why I've heard Windows is better for colorblind or disabled - though many people on here hate it, everything is so presented to you without having to look for it. On a Mac, its colored, so everything looks great for most people but those with colorblindness have a tough time seeing everything.

On top of every window there is an X, a box, and a _. The X means close, the Box means Maximize (and when it is maximized, there are two boxes, which means minimize), and the _ means minimize to taskbar. The X has a red background, everything else is blue (in XP).
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:38 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by SilentPanda
somewhere around 2nd or 3rd grade and failed the test. My teacher knew that I excelled in this subject went over the test with me so I could explain my incorrect answers. My problem? I couldn't add the blue and pink marbles correctly because I also added the purple ones.
Which is precisely why designers (for print and web!) should not rely on colour only as a cue: Items that must be distinguished from each other (bars on a chart, symbols that have a meaning) need to be distinguishable by shape and/or pattern as well as colour.

A good test is to run a photocopy or a fax of a colour layout. If you can't tell what's going on in the B&W photocopy (for lack of contrast, or two colours coming out the same shade of gray) then you need to go back and redesign.

The 2nd grade exam publisher should be flogged...
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:38 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by freeny
^^^

This is why traffic lights are arranged the same way in every country worldwide.

red
yellow
green
Also like to add the reason they use red yello and green is because they are the 3 primary colors of light and all the other shades are a mixture of those 3. Hence the reason they are used. If you are color blide to red green the people would have the same problem as they do know because they will not be able to see either red or green there for not being able to tell the color.

Also traffic lights are aranged the same way in every country.
If vertical it is
red
Yellow
Green

If horizontial it is
Red Yellow Green.

As for the flashing ones sucks to be color blind. Not much can be done about it. Just have to look at the signs close by. I always seen a stop sign on the side if it is a flashing red. (unless it is normall 3 color street light flashing because then you just go by it location in the set up to know what it is)
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Old Mar 14, 2006, 11:40 AM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by floriflee
So blood looks brown or purple? Marcia Cross looks like a brunette to you??
I can tell that cartoon blood (Itchy and Scratchy) is red because they use a primary color, and also because I know blood is red so I would interpret it that way anyway.

Real blood looks black or very dark brown to me. If I'm walking barefoot and scrape my toe, I can tell if it hurts but from looking I can't tell if it's bleeding or if it has dirt on it.

Here is how Marcia Cross looks to you and to me.
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