Colour blindness occurs when problems with the colour-sensing pigments in the eye cause a difficulty or an inability to distinguish colours. Most people with colour vision deficits are diagnosed at a young age and it is an inherited condition however it can happen over the course of your life.
If you were not born with a colour vision deficit, you can develop issues distinguishing colours later in life due to various diseases, trauma impacting the optic nerve or retina, cataracts, effects from drugs, including prescribed medications and illicit drugs and chronic alcoholism
Diseases: Some conditions that can cause colour deficits are sickle cell anaemia, diabetes, macular degeneration, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, Parkinson’s disease, chronic alcoholism and leukaemia.
One eye may be more affected than the other, and the colour deficit may get better if the underlying disease can be treated.
Medications: Some medications can alter colour vision, such as drugs that treat certain autoimmune diseases, heart problems, high blood pressure, erectile dysfunction, infections, nervous disorders and psychological problems.
Ageing: Your ability to see colours deteriorates slowly as you age.
Chemicals: Exposure to some chemicals in the workplace, such as carbon disulphide and fertilisers, may cause loss of colour vision.
Another form of colour vision is called Rainbow Vision – seeing rainbows around lights, especially at night, usually indicates swelling of the cornea. This may occur from a variety of causes and cataract can sometimes be the reason.
Certain types of cataracts can gradually affect colour vision, but this is usually not noticed until one cataract is removed. The cataract seems to filter out the colour blue, and everything appears to be bluer after cataract extraction.
It is often hard to diagnose as these changes can happen so slowly you may not be aware of them. Sudden changes in colour vision can indicate a serious disease, so it is important to make an appointment to see your eye specialist straight away if you notice a change in the way you perceive colours.
Remember changes in colour vision can indicate a serious disease, so it is important to make an appointment to see your eye specialist straight away if you notice a change in the way you perceive colours.