Fact or Myth: Are 1 in 12 Men Colorblind?

This is FACT.

But a bit of a skewed one. Approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women are colorblind as we typically think of it…but they’re not technically colorblind. That’s because the true definition of colorblind is a health condition called achromatopsia in which people view the world like a black and white movie made up of only black, white, and shades of gray. This is a very rare condition; according to the American Optometric Association (AOA), “very few people are completely color blind.”

What we tend to think of as colorblind is actually color vision deficiency—when people can’t make out the difference between certain shades of reds and greens, and sometime hues of blues and yellows.

eyeLet’s Look Inside the Eye

People who aren’t colorblind can typically differentiate between 100 shades of color, while those with color vision deficiency may only be able to make out about 20. Here’s why:

Inside the retina are photoreceptors called cones that contain pigments sensitive to light. These pigments help you decipher color, such as the subtle differences between red, green, and blue light. But if the cones in your retina are short on pigments, then you’re not able to see the varying shades of the three primary colors red, green, and blue.

How Do I Catch Colorblindness

From your mother! It’s commonly transmitted from mom (who is a carrier but is not colorblind herself) to son, where it affects both eyes. But you can also become colorblind from injury or illness, such as diabetes or multiple sclerosis.

Although science has yet to discover the precise reason men are more prone than women to colorblindness one study suggests that it’s due to the great number of testosterone receptors on the brain’s cerebral cortex.

Wondering where you are on the color vision deficiency spectrum? Take the Farnsworth Munsell 100 hue test online.