Top 5 Facts about Color-Blindness

Written by Aaron Cameron The world isn't black and white, just shades of gray. But what if it's just shades of blue? Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts. In this instalment, we're counting down the top 5 facts about color blindness. Special thanks to our users Daniel Fong and mac121mr0 for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 5 Facts about Colour-Blindness


The world isn't black and white, just shades of gray. But what if it's just shades of blue? Welcome to WatchMojo's Top 5 Facts.

In this instalment, we're counting down the top 5 facts about color blindness.

#5: The Term "Color Blindness" Is Inaccurate

The first thing that you need to know is the term “color blind” is a bit of a misnomer. In actuality, 99% of people the term applies to are only color vision deficient- meaning they do see color, but may not see it correctly. Achromatopsia refers to total color-blindness- AKA grayscale vision- but at 1 in 40,000 people worldwide, it's pretty rare. Rod-monochromacy produces similar vision and is slightly more common at 1 in 30,000. Rarest of all, but perhaps the most interesting, is cone-monochromacy: wherein the eye only sees either blue, green, or red with no hue distinction, with both the green and red forms affecting 1 in a million people, and the blue-cone form affecting less than 1 in 100,000. Even the far more common blue-yellow color blindness is inaccurate as it actually affects blues and greens, while the garden variety red-green is murky given how it affects other colors, like purples and browns.

#4: Dogs See Fewer Colors Than Humans Do, but Other Animals See Many More

While many people think that animals as a whole, and dogs especially, are color blind across the board, this is not true. It is true that dogs see fewer colors than most humans, but they still see color, just in a limited form. This all comes down to the number of photopigments in the eye: where humans have 3, dogs and most mammals are stuck with 2. Primates typically have three photopigments, as humans do, but all male squirrel monkeys are red-green color blind. The humble butterfly, meanwhile, sees far more color than we simple humans ever could.

#3: It Affects More Men Than Women, but It's Actually Their Mother's Fault

If it seems like more men tend to be color blind than women, it's because they are. Where 1 in 200 women are color blind, the same is true for 1 in 12 men. This comes down to most forms of color blindness being linked to the X chromosome. While women get an X chromosome from each parent– and thus can be made gene carriers by their color-blind fathers– men receive their solitary X chromosome from their mother and if it's tainted, well, sorry, no refunds. Even if momma-bear only carries the gene but isn't herself color blind, the odds are 50/50 that junior will be baffled by Christmas colored plaid.

#2: It May Cost You a Job or Keep You from Driving or Flying

While your grandmother, primary school teacher, and that one guy at the office will tell you that color-blindness is enough to keep would be pilots grounded, it's not entirely true. Color-blind pilots are often subject restrictions, such as not flying at night, but they can still feel the need... the need for speed. Less fortunate are drivers in Turkey, Romania and Singapore, which do not issue licenses to the color blind, and police forces-including the New York State Police, Los Angeles Police Department, and the Washington State Patrol all ban color-blind candidates. Military career choices for the color-blind can be limited, however during World War II being color-blind was seen as an advantage because camouflage was thought to be less effective to the color-blind eye. Other occupations may provide stumbling blocks, such as color-coded electrical work, but that didn't stop crayon moulder Emerson Moser who after 35 years with Crayola revealed himself to be blue-green color-blind.

#1: It's a Disability, Not a Party Trick

The most important thing to know, if even for your own safety, is color-blindness isn't a novelty act. It may seem highly amusing that an otherwise intelligent person can't tell pink from teal, but mocking them for it on is par with making fun of any other disability. In fact, a Brazilian court not only determined that color blindness is a disability, it's legally protected from discrimination. Many color blind people are cautious of commenting on color lest they wind up in a sudden death round of “name the color” with the jerks around them. Never mind everyday things like red hair being orange or blue dogs being gray, trying to color coordinate an outfit can be landmine of potential disaster, and just forget about buying ripe bananas. So please, the next time you feel like making fun of someone for asking “what color is this?”, just remember: they can't buy ripe bananas, haven't they suffered enough?
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