It all started in 2002 in Santa Cruz, California during an Ultimate Frisbee game. Don McPherson, serial inventor and Ultimate Frisbee enthusiast with a Ph.D. in glass science, wore a pair of specialty eyewear he invented to protect the eyes of surgeons performing laser surgery. A teammate tried them on.
“Dude! I can see the cones!” he called out in amazement. His friend was severely color blind and couldn’t see the bright orange cones marking the game boundaries until that moment. A light bulb went on and Don’s curiosity sparked an initiative that would eventually improve the lives of thousands.
Dr. McPherson applied for a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to explore why his glasses helped the color blind better see colors. He partnered with Andrew Schmeder, a UC Berkeley-trained mathematician who helped crack the code behind the accidental discovery. The duo spent years perfecting the lens technology to create EnChroma, stylish optical-grade glasses that reveal color that is vibrant, clear and distinct.
How Many People are Color Blind?
There are an estimated 300 million people in the world with color vision deficiency (CVD). The trait is inherited genetically and carried on the X-chromosome, affecting about one in 12 men (8%) and one in 200 women (.5%). The colloquial term “color blindness” most commonly refers to deutan-type or protan-type CVD, which are both types of red-green color blindness.
What are the Causes and Challenges of Color Blindness?
In the eyes of color blind individuals, the red and green photo-pigments have a more pronounced overlap. This causes confusion for color blind people and to struggle to correctly interpret many colors with red or green in them.
To the color blind, the world appears less vibrant or “washed out,” and some colors are indistinguishable; like purple and blue. Pink may look gray; red and green stop lights look “white-ish;” red looks brown and peanut butter looks green. Many color blind people find their occupational, sports or artistic pursuits limited by their condition. While color blindness is often considered a mild disability, studies have found that two-thirds of people with CVD feel it is a handicap. To find out if EnChroma glasses can help them, color blind people can take our color vision test at enchroma.com/test.
How EnChroma Glasses Work
EnChroma created specially engineered lenses that enable red-green color blind people to see color more clearly, distinctly and vibrantly. They contain special optical filters that remove small slices of light where the problematic overlap occurs. This helps compensate for the excessive overlap in the photopigments in the eye and enhances the vibrancy and saturation of colors while facilitating color discrimination, depth and detail perception for the color blind. See the “Deeper Science of How EnChroma Glasses Work” below for additional detail.
About EnChroma Color Blind Glasses
EnChroma glasses for color blindness are available for men, women and children with outdoor and indoor lenses that can also be customized for prescription. The lenses are made with Trivex® material, a high-performance optical-grade resin that offers the triple benefits of clarity, lightness, and durability. The glasses are available in lifestyle, sports and kid’s frames.
For more information on EnChroma sunglasses or colorblindness, click here.