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Color blindness affects Gonzaga students
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Imagine being at Gonzaga and not being able to see the color purple. It may be hard to believe, but for some on campus, it’s true. The capacity to differentiate specific colors or experience colors in the same manner as people with normal color vision is caused by color blindness, sometimes referred to as color vision deficit. 

Senior John Allen is one of a number of Gonzaga students that suffer from colorblindness.  He has protanopia but also has tritanopia, which means he has a difficult time seeing blue, purple and sometimes yellow.  Allen shared a story about the first time he found out about his colorblindness.  In pre-school, Allen would always use the orange crayon when drawing people because he believed that it was the color that closest resembles his skin color.  He also would draw other objects like Christmas trees in dark red, thinking it was green.  While having red-reen colorblindness, Allen unfortunately also has blue-purple color blindness and sees Gonzaga purple as navy blue.

Around one in 12 males and one in 200 women are affected by this hereditary disorder. Color blindness comes in several forms, and it can range in severity from moderate to severe.  Protanopia, deuteranopia, and tritanopia are the three primary classifications of color blindness. The most prevalent kind, protanopia, impairs the perception of the red and green colors. Deuteranopia is less frequent and also impairs the perception of the colors red and green. The last one is an uncommon form of color blindness called tritanopia, which impairs the perception of blue and yellow hues. Achromatopsia, a very unique disorder that completely impairs color vision, is another condition that exists.

A genetic mutation that impairs the photopigments in the cone cells of the retina, which are responsible for color vision, results in color blindness. Red, green, and blue cone cells are the three main kinds of cone cells, and each type has a unique photopigment that is sensitive to a certain wavelength of light. These cone cells work together to allow individuals with normal color vision to see a wide variety of colors. Nevertheless, if one or more of these cone cells are absent or not functioning properly, it results in a difficult time seeing certain colors.  Depending on the kind and degree of the illness, color blindness symptoms might vary.  Unfortunately, there is no cure for color blindness; however, there are a number of ways that can help those who have this condition. The use of color-correcting lenses can improve how people see colors and are one of the most popular solutions.  These solutions may not be one hundred percent helpful for each patient because it can depend on the severity of the case.

Another student here who suffers from this condition is Jack Cadin, senior.  Cadin has protanopia or red-green color blindness.  

Cadin shared about the first time he found out about his colorblindness.  He was getting ready for freshman homecoming, and his mom wanted him to go out and get a pink tie.  Cadin thought nothing of it and went out and bought a tie that he believed was pink.  When he got home, his mom yelled at him for getting the wrong color tie.  

“[I was] confused and unsure why my mom was so upset,” Cadin said.  

It turns out that he had bought an orange and red tie, thinking it was pink.  After this amusing series of events, Cadin, and his family found out that he was colorblind.  He still has a difficult time picking out clothes and the colors that he wants.

In a school setting, it’s important to realize what color combinations are bad for those with color blindness. If you think you suffer from color blindness, talk to your eye doctor or family doctor.

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  • C

    Carol CorganMay 3, 2023 at 7:14 am

    Fantastic article, Owen. I seldom think about who may be working with color blindness. I hope many students read your article. I had no idea that as many as 1 in 12 males have the condition.

  • J

    James MorganMay 2, 2023 at 3:27 pm

    Nicely done Owen – some staff have color blindness too! (some shades of green and brown for me) Interesting topic & helpful for people to be aware of!

  • H

    Harry Geib, SJMay 2, 2023 at 3:11 pm

    Very interesting article Owen. It seems most people write about color blindness as if it is the same for everyone. Thanks for delineating the various forms and giving examples from your fellow Gonzaga students. Good writing!
    Fr. Harry Geib, SJ