What to Know About
Color Blindness in Children
(Color Vision Deficiency)
Do you have concerns that your child may be color blind?
You may have noticed that he or she mistakes certain common colors, you may have already been notified of an issue by a teacher, or you have simply seen that your child doesn't care for certain activities that utilize color.
The problem with color blindness in children is that it might not get noticed, and the inability to distinguish certain colors may get misdiagnosed as another learning problem. In some cases, it may make children frustrated with seemingly simple activities like coloring.
Color blindness (or color vision deficiency) tends to run in families, so it's more likely that a child will be color blind if a parent is, as well. It also tends to be more common with males than females. The vast majority of people who are called color blind can see plenty of colors, but they just can't distinguish as many colors as people with normal vision.
Red/green color blindness is the most common form, meaningsufferers tend to mix up all colors which have some degree of red or green in them, like mixing up purple with blue.
At-Home Tests For Color Blindness in Children
The problem may be quite subtle with some children, and it may take a professional to diagnose it for sure. Currently about 40% of color blind students leaving middle school are unaware that they are color blind (or color vision deficient).
You can usually take the first step in determining if your child may have a problem.
Get a box of 12 colored pencils or crayons. The basic colors that should be tested include red, green, orange, brown, grey, purple, and blue. Color squares that are at least an inch big on a sheet of paper. Simply ask your child to verbally name the various colors.
Make sure that you have a table to work on with decent lighting. If your child, for example, has trouble telling the difference between red or green, grey or blue, or purple or blue, there is a good chance that he or she may have an issue.
Be sure to do this test without other kids around. Other children may misunderstand the test and make the child getting tested feel badly. You can let your child know that misidentifying colors is not a failure.
Most people cope very well with this issue, but the people who cope the best are the ones who get it diagnosed in order to get proper help and training. A color blind child may not grow up to become an airline pilot, but there are plenty of other great careers to look forward to!
How Early Can Children Be Tested?
Most kids start to distinguish common colors just past two years old. A child who speaks well and has normal vision might be able to match red, green, and blue blocks, for example. However, some kids may not be that verbal about it until they are closer to three or even over three.
Also, many experts say that some very normal children really aren't adept at naming most basic colors until they are closer to four years old or even older. If in doubt, it's best to call an eye doctor for an appointment.
Getting Eye Doctors to Diagnose Color Blindness in Children
Of course, it's a good idea to follow up the home test with a visit to an optometrist. The eye doctor cannot cure inherited color blindness, because there is currently no cure for this deficiency. However, the optometrist can prescribe certain types of tinted filters and contact lenses to help a person distinguish different colors better.
The sooner that the optometrist diagnoses this condition, the sooner you and your child’s teachers will understand which colors your child cannot see as well as other children can.
Even though color blindness in children is surprisingly common, it's much easier to deal with if it is diagnosed early.
Please note: In-office, Optometric Vision therapy, under the direction of a Behavioral Optometrist using prisms, filters and lenses, as used with our patients, is far more effective than home-based therapy.