Color blindness — or poor color vision — is the inability to distinguish between different colors. It affects about 1 in 12 boys from Northern European descent and a smaller percentage of girls. Children who are color blind often do not realize that they are color blind. Determining that your child is color blind can prevent him from falling behind in school.
What Is Color Blindness?
The majority of people who are color blind cannot tell the difference between the colors red and green. A smaller percentage of people cannot tell the difference between blue and yellow, and an even smaller amount of people cannot distinguish between any colors at all. To a color blind person, the colors may seem like different shades of gray.
Color Blind vs. Lack of Knowledge
Very young children are still developing their vision, and you shouldn’t expect proficiency in color awareness just yet. For example, your toddler may be able to tell you the difference between red, blue and yellow — the primary colors — but may have a harder time telling you the difference between red and orange or blue and purple. If your child is still young, don’t jump to conclusions about his color-blindness.
Problems at School
You may first start to realize that your child is color blind through reports from her teacher. If your child is excelling in most subjects but isn’t confident when it comes to activities with colors, she may be color blind. She may also have difficulty reading assignments if they are not on high-contrast paper. Though teachers are trained to spot these weaknesses, not all teachers catch on.
Signs of Color Blindness
If your child seems to be very slow at learning his colors or frequently calls one color another, he may be color blind. You may also find that he has only occasional problems with a certain task that turns out to be related to color blindness. For example, if he can read all of his books but one, it may be because the words are printed in colors that he cannot see well. Color blindness also runs in families, so if there are color blind people in your family, you may want to watch for signs sooner.
Tests for Color Blindness
Testing for color blindness is relatively easy. It involves using Ishihara Test Plates, which are designs made up of dots of color. For example, it may have several dots of red as the background, with dots of green forming a number. If you ask a child to tell you the number, she should be able to do it if she is not color blind.