With approximately 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women worldwide affected by color blindness, it’s likely that someone close to you or someone you know is color blind. Although evidently prominent globally, there is unfortunately no cure for color blindness. People living with color blindness face many difficulties every day that those who are not affected might not be aware of. From simple activities like choosing what to wear, preparing food and driving, to hindering access to education and career advancements, color blindness affects all aspects of life. It can even affect buying jewelry! So, before you click ‘check-out’ on Jewelry Auctioned, make sure you know which colors your color blind friends can and can’t see!
Color blindness is generally genetic, meaning that the vast majority of colorblind people inherited it from their parents. Interestingly, the condition is usually inherited from their mother, who is often a ‘carrier’ and not color blind herself. Men are more prone to inheriting color blindness than women because the gene that is responsible for it is carried on the X chromosome. Alternatively, some people develop the condition as a result of prolonged diseases such as diabetes, certain liver diseases, multiple sclerosis and almost all eye diseases. The good news is that it is not something you can catch from another person, but if your family has a history of color blindness, it’s important to have regular check-ups.
Contrary to popular belief, color blind people are able to see things just as clearly as anyone else, however they often struggle to ‘see’ certain shades of reds, greens or blues. However, not every colorblind person struggles to see the same shades of color, as there are different forms of color blindness. The most prevalent type of color blindness is called the red/green color blindness. Contrary to the name, red/green color blindness does not mean that people mix up red with green, rather they struggle to see the red and green elements of all colors. For example, if a red/green color blind person was trying to choose between a sapphire or amethyst ring, they would struggle to see the difference in color between the two. This is because they would be unable to see the red element of the purple-colored amethyst. Similar problems can occur across the whole color spectrum and even black can be confused as a dark shade of green or blue.
There are three types of light cones that work together to perceive light and color. Normal color vision effectively uses all three of these cones correctly, which is known as trichromacy. People with impaired trichromatic vision are usually color blind to some extent and are known as anomalous trichromats. All three of their cones still perceive light colors, however one cone perceives light slightly out of alignment. This means that there are three different types of light effects produced, depending upon which cone is perceiving light slightly unaligned. These three different anomalous conditions are categorized as protanomaly, which is reduced sensitivity to red light, deuteranomaly, which is reduced sensitivity to green light and tritanomaly, which is reduced sensitivity to blue light. Deuteranomaly is the most common form, while tritanomaly is extremely rare. People with deuteranomaly and protanomaly collectively make-up the red/green form of color blindness.
Alternatively, some people have only two types of cones that can perceive color, while their third light cone is completely nonfunctional. This is called anomalous dichromacy and it means that people with dichromatic color vision are unable to perceive a specific section of light. Similarly, to anomalous trichromacy, there are three different dichromatic conditions, which are categorized as protanopia, deuteranopia and tritanopia. People with protanopia are unable to perceive any red light, while those living with deuternopia are unable to perceive green light and those with tritanopia are unable to perceive blue light.
Although extremely rare, there are cases of monochromacy worldwide. People with monochromatic vision cannot see any color, instead they see different shades of grey ranging from black to white. Approximately 1 person in 33,000 has monochromatic vision and its symptoms can often make life very difficult. Fortunately, there is a huge support community for those struggling with monochromatic vision and a number of online support groups.
To put it simply, the different categories of colorblindness mentioned above can be placed into either red/green sensitivity or blue/yellow sensitivity. Below is a table to further exemplify this:
Now that you know the basics about color blindness, you might be wondering which gemstones you can buy for your colorblind friend and what colors you should focus on. Ultimately, it depends on which category of colorblindness your loved one has, as different categories have different light sensitivities. For example, someone with reduced blue sensitivity would have more difficulty viewing a yellow gemstone then someone with reduced red/green sensitivity. The below table makes the decision easier for you and lists all of the colors certain colorblind groups can and can’t see, along with which gemstones are best suited for their light sensitivity:
While this table does offer a guide to choosing the right gemstone jewelry for your colorblind friend, there are a number of alternative general points to keep in mind. Graphic designer, Alex Bigman noted a number of handy rules in his article ‘Why all designers need to understand color blindness’. He referenced the importance of keeping color monochrome, in high contrast and to focus on different textures instead of different colors. Most notably however, was his list of color combinations that are especially hard on colorblind people;
With over an estimated 250 million colorblind people worldwide, it is important that you are aware of which colors your colorblind friends can see before you buy them a meaningful gift. Remember, what you might view as red might not be red for a colorblind person, so make sure you take the time to ask them which colors they have difficulty seeing. Otherwise, you could risk spending money on a beautiful Opal ring with a red flash that your loved one can’t even appreciate.
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