Special Filter Glasses Can Help Color Blind People Recognize More Colors, Study Finds

New research found that special glasses with advanced filters can enhance color vision for those who are color blind, allowing them to recognize more hues.

The study, published in Current Biology and in collaboration with UC Davis Eye Center and France's INSERM Stem Cell and Brain Research Institute, used glasses with "advanced spectral notch filters" over a period of two weeks to test the chromatic responses of those with anomalous trichromacy, the most common type of red-green color vision deficiency (CVD).

The team explained that those with normal color vision are able to see over a million hues and shades, while those with a CVD see a "vastly diminished range of colors."

Researchers asked CVD participants to wear either the special glasses (EnChroma glasses) or placebo glasses, and later tested them on days 2, 4, and 11 without the glasses on to see their chromatic responses.

Those with red-green CVD showed an enhanced ability to perceive different hues, the study found. Interestingly, the effect also persisted for some time after wearing the glasses — but it is not clear for how long the improvement lasts, the team shared.

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"Extended usage of these glasses boosts chromatic response in those with anomalous trichromacy (red-green color vision deficiency),” said John S. Werner, a professor of ophthalmology UC Davis Health.

He continued, “We found that sustained use over two weeks not only led to increased chromatic contrast response, but, importantly, these improvements persisted when tested without the filters, thereby demonstrating an adaptive visual response.”

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One of the color blind participants, Alex Zbylut, shared how the advanced filter glasses made a dramatic difference in his vision.

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"When I wear the glasses outside, all the colors are extremely vibrant and saturated, and I can look at trees and clearly tell that each tree has a slightly different shade of green compared to the rest," he explained.

"I had no idea how colorful the world is and feel these glasses can help color blind people better navigate color and appreciate the world," he added.

According to the study, at least eight in 100 men and one in 200 women experience a red-green CVD.

Approximately 13 million people in the U.S. and 350 million across the globe are affected by the deficiency.