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People with color blindness are unable to distinguish certain colors or color hues. There are many types of color blindness with red/green being the most common and blue/yellow and complete color blindness, or the perception of only gray hues, being exceedingly rare. Interestingly, close to 10 percent of men have "some form" of color blindness. Color blindness can be inherited or acquired and the most common cause of acquired color blindness is intake of Plaquenil, an antimalarial drug used to treat autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis.
Color blindness is minimally disabling for the sufferer, but in certain situations the condition can give rise to a number of difficulties. Color blind students may have trouble reading colored graphs and charts and accessing the Internet. People with color blindness may have difficulty color coordinating clothes, determining if meat is cooked and driving depending on the form and severity of their color blindness.
Most individuals with some form of color blindness have issues in the workplace, the severity of which depends on the type of color blindness they have and the work they do. Physicians with color blindness may have problems diagnosing conditions that depend on color perception like tonsillitis, jaundice and cyanosis to name but a few. Color blind interior designers may have difficulties with color coordination and color blind hairdressers may struggle with hair coloring.
Laws in some countries currently prohibit color blind individuals from becoming police officers, airline pilots and holding certain military positions. However, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and the British Civil Aviation Authority have recently introduced a new color blindness scale that determines the severity of one's condition, thus making it legal for those with milder forms to become civil aviation pilots.
People with mild color blindness can use several ways of compensating in their chosen professions, from accepting help from others to using specialized equipment such as color differentiation software and tinted lenses that can help with color perception. People with total color blindness may find jobs that rely on color perception more difficult, but with the right adaptive equipment and training they can thrive in the profession of their choice.
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- Nevada Dual Sensory Impairment Project; Facts about Color Blindness; Elizabeth Cooper et al.; 2007
- Medline Plus; Color Blindness; Paul B. Griggs; April 2009
- Colourmed.com; Colour Blindness and Medicine; 2009
- Colourblindawareness.org: The Workplace
- Federal Aviation Administration: Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners
Emma Miller has been a freelance writer since 2006, specializing in health and fitness, diseases, adaptive technology, frugal living and nutrition. She has contributed to "Midwest Literary Magazine," "Static Movement" anthologies, "Fringe" and "Eulogy Magazine," among other publications. Miller holds several certificates in nutrition, chronic disease and integrative mental health, and is completing her Bachelor of Science in psychology.