Posted by Lisa Livingston on March 03, 2016
Visual stimulation has become a hallmark of modern living. Whether in the classroom, at the mall, or on the roadway, few realize the incredible importance color plays in their daily lives. Yet those living with colorblindness, 8% of the population by some estimates, are increasingly aware of the importance of color.
A recent breakthrough by Berkeley, California company EnChroma may signal a rosier future for those afflicted. Using technology originally intended to shield the eyes of surgeons from lasers in the operating room, the company has developed sunglasses which correct deficiencies in patients with red-green colorblindness. And the company aims to make their product available to anyone struggling with the condition.
Red-green colorblindness, or deuteranopia, arises from desensitized cone cells in the eye which muddle the appearance of greens and reds. While more severe forms can exhibit the complete absence of the cells responsible for red and green color perception, most cases of red-green colorblindness fall into the less severe category. EnChroma's technology blocks certain wavelengths in both the red and green portion of the spectrum, in a way simplifying an image for the eye. For customers, this means donning a pair of these stylish frames can transform the landscape around them.
Customers have lauded the product as life changing, with many seeing for the first time exactly how their condition has limited their sight. Many colorblind patients struggle in the classroom and meetings, as PowerPoint based lectures often rely on color codes. Learning to drive becomes more difficult, as colorblind drivers cannot rely on a change in color from their peripheral but must focus on the position of the light itself, along with struggling to see tail lights and road hazards. The company has unveiled removable lenses, with darker shades for outdoor applications and lighter ones for use indoors. The company also developed a children's line, so kids can largely sidestep the struggles of colorblindness from the diagnosis.
EnChroma's success has brought down the prices of their sunglasses to match other high end retailers, opening their lines to many of the 14 million people living with the condition in the United States. Some might be happy to slide on their shades for the morning commute, but others might be donning theirs to see the world in a new light, literally.