Do Those Glasses Really Fix Colorblindness?

Do Those Glasses Really Fix Colorblindness?


A while back, there were a whole bunch of
videos with the same theme that went viral: someone who is colorblind puts on special
glasses, and suddenly they can see the world in all its colorful glory! Some people freak out, some people cry, some
people can’t stop staring at colors they say they’ve never seen. When we first heard about this, we were like
we need to make a video about that immediately! And then we spend years basically, trying
to get to the bottom of it. And this is the culmination of that. Thank you, to our writing staff. But the glasses don’t just, like, turn on
a bunch of new colors for colorblind people. And when people put the glasses on, they aren’t
suddenly seeing the world the way people with normal color vision do. The glasses just filter light in a way that
makes it easier for people with certain types of colorblindness to tell the difference between
colors. If someone’s colorblind, that means something’s
up with the cones in their eyes — the photoreceptors that detect color. There are three types of cones: for seeing
short, medium and long wavelengths, which roughly correspond to blue, green, and red. There are lots of different types of colorblindness,
and in almost all of them, people can see at least some colors. The exception is monochromacy, where people
don’t have any cones at all and they see the world in black, white, and grey. But that is incredibly rare — only about
1 in 30,000 people have it. There’s also dichromacy, where one type
of cone is missing. Where someone is missing all of their green
cones, for example, they see the world in just blues and yellows. But it’s a lot more common to have what’s
known as anomalous trichromacy: where you have all three cones, but one type gets
activated by the wrong wavelengths. About 6.3% of men, and 0.37% of women, have
anomalous trichromacy. And in the vast majority of those people,
it’s their red or green cones that are affected, which is why most colorblind people confuse
green and red. In deuteranomaly, the green cones detect wavelengths
that are too high — so, on the redder end of the spectrum. Red light activates both red and green cones,
which the brain interprets as a kind of yellowish color. Protanomaly is kind of the opposite: the red
cones detect wavelengths that are too low, so green light can activate the red cones. Either way, the red and green cones are activated
by similar wavelengths, so there’s confusion around red and green, which can both look
yellowish. Like, it might be kind of hard to tell the
difference between a lemon and a lime, or between red and green peppers. But there are a couple of ways to help colorblind
people tell the difference between colors, even without fancy glasses. Like with an app that changes the colors for
you. If you were trying to figure out which peppers
were the red ones, you could pull out your phone and hold the camera up to them, and
the app would detect the red peppers and change them to a color that would be easier to distinguish,
like pink. Some apps and video games have settings that’ll
do something similar — so you don’t confuse the enemies outlined in red with the people
on your team outlined in green, for example. There are also colorblind-friendly contact
lenses. You wear a special contact lens in just one
eye, which is usually tinted deep red so it blocks out a lot of green light. Green objects will look much darker through
the tinted lens, so by comparing what you see with each eye, it’s easier to tell the
difference between green and red. These lenses can help you pass tests for colorblindness,
like the ones where you check which number you see in different-colored dots, and it
can also help people in some specific jobs, like electricians. You don’t want to get the wires wrong, when
you’re an electrician. Some people who’ve used these lenses say
that they do start to see green and red differently. But they don’t really correct color vision. The glasses that spawned all those viral videos,
on the other hand, do try to correct color vision. They’re designed to solve the problem of
the cones overlapping, so colors don’t activate the wrong cones. They only work for the types of red-green
color blindness where you have all three cones, though — so either deuteranomaly or protanomaly. The key is to block the specific wavelengths
that are causing the most confusion — so the wavelengths of red and green that trigger
both the red and green cones. The glasses use what’s known as multi-notch
filtering, where they’re embedded with rare earth metals that absorb certain wavelengths
of light, leaving just the wavelengths that a colorblind person’s eyes have an easier
time distinguishing. So red things will be more red, and green
things will be more green, making it easier to distinguish between them. That’s also what happens if someone with regular
vision wears the glasses — they’ll see the primary colors of light much more vividly. But for colorblind people, the glasses will
only work if their colorblindness isn’t too severe. If their cones overlap too much, there’s not
much these glasses can do, because they won’t block all the wavelengths that trigger both
types of cones. On the other hand, some of the people that
the glasses do work for say that they can see colors they never have before — like
certain shades of purple. People with normal color vision see purple
when there’s a mix of red and blue wavelengths reaching their eyes. But with deuteranomaly, part of the red light
activates the green cones, which muddies the color. It’s possible that with the glasses blocking
the wavelengths of light that activate the green cones, people can see shades of purple
they wouldn’t otherwise be able to see. Of course, the glasses can not cure color
blindness, because nothing has physically changed about your eyes or your cones. But for the people in those viral videos,
the world really does look different — though I was skeptical of that at first. Although, it does not look exactly the same
as the way people with normal color vision see it. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow! If you’re interested in learning more about
the science of vision, check out our video on why so many people need glasses these days
— aka the nearsightedness epidemic.

100 thoughts on “Do Those Glasses Really Fix Colorblindness?”

  1. 267 liberals disliked this video because the video mentions "6.3% men and 0.37% women". That's not very gender inclusive and assumes men and women are different

  2. I bought a car 20 years ago I thought it was white. Everyone told me it was blue (Light blue). The paperwork said it was blue. I knew it was blue because why would people lie.
    Anyhow I drove it for a few months and only realised it really was blue when I parked it next to an identical car painted white. After that I really disliked the colour of the car.
    I kept it for 18 years and it was the most reliable car I ever came across.

  3. Bazooka Llama Productions

    Yellow tinted goggles are surprisingly good at helping with seeing contrast at night. Helpful for driving, or going into the woods alone at night.

  4. I have Tritanopia (blue green colorblindness). The glasses for my eyes made me see the difference between colors, not suddenly see the colors (just as they said above). That being said, I did cry a little.

  5. I have this type of colorblindness and is the hardest thing to explain to people. Color is so personal to everyone and if you think that green is blue and blue is green there is no one that can convince you otherwise.

  6. I hate purple. I just see a constant flashing between red and green which is vaguely sickening. And don't get me started on colour coded maps and diagrams. I'd like to give this a try. Too bad the crazy price tag. Didn't that Logan Paul fool make a video about them?

  7. I have some type of red/green deficiency but it's definitely not a hundred percent because I've only realized it now in my 20s, I fail most colorblind tests and can't see things lots of my friends see, but I have always thought red and green to be very different colors.

  8. In college I told a teacher I was colour blind and he held a 7 up bottle next to the chalkboard. He asks me, 
    can you see this". I reply I'm colour blind, not blind. Yes, I can see it.

  9. Please HELP! Would this work on my dog? I took him to the vet and she said he was color blind 🙁 poor guy. I feel so bad for him and would love to get his vision back to normal. Thanks for any help

  10. For a colorblind person its like VHS, we don’t see what we are missing out on. Maybe with these glasses we will experience BlueRay hi-def and then take them off and then not be happy with VHS anymore?

  11. I'm colorblind. In 1997, I bought a really nice silver Nissan. My car got hit at work one day and someone yelled who owns the bluish green Nissan. I honestly had no idea that my car was not silver until that very moment. I'm only typing it because I'm never going to live it down anyway.

  12. Some of those links are defunct, and give a '404'. It might be useful if (instead of posting truncated URLs), you could maybe post bullet points from the video, and the full URL address of sites that support – or refute – those views. Just saying – generally loving your work…

  13. If most color blind people can't differentiate between red and green then our choice for traffic light colors is a big mistake

  14. What if we all see color differently but we don't know we do because we've all learned the color we see as red is red. And subsequently what if everyone has the same favorite color

  15. Where I work (machine shop), all official documents have to be written and signed in blue or black ink. One of our (now retired) supervisors is red/green colorblind accidentally bought a purple pen and signed off about 30 pages of documents in purple. Most of us saw his point when he started screaming "IT LOOKS LIKE ^%@&ING BLUE TO ME!!!"

  16. My son is now colorblind after an overdose that killed him (he was revived, obviously).

    If you show him any individual thing that is red, yellow, orange, or purple, he sees purple. But if you show him all those things at once, then he can see a difference.

    It was experimental LSD that someone shot up his nose without his permission. I still don't know who that guy was, but he did it to several people and sent them all to the hospital.

  17. On a spree of tagging comments like this today, and so few people in the comments tend to actually follow most of the video so here goes. Seeing color doesn't work like people say. Technology Connections has a great video. Put it like this – your brain has several totally different sensors for light and color. Colorblind people are missing one or more types of sensor. These glasses try to shift color onto the remaining sensors. So if someone couldn't see red before, the glasses will shift red toward green/blue, and now they can "see" when things are red. They're not actually seeing red. But they can tell when red is there, because things light up in an unusual way. Eventually their brain can retrain to "see" this difference as red, but it's not perfect.

  18. "Incredibly rare, only one in 30 000 has monochromacy". Google "how many people we are in the world today", get the answer 7,53 billion, divide this number by 30 000, find out about 251 000 people will statistically have this in the world today

  19. Thank you for making this! This is the explanation I’ve been giving for years while I wear them, but you said it much more elegantly. I’ll just send people this link now

  20. I bought "these" glasses that you are very careful not to name. I do not dispute that they technically may work but I do dispute their marketing and practicality. Their marketing is extremely misleading in that no one is just putting these on and being surprised by new colors. The instructions that come with them require you wear them for several hours in sunlight before your eyes even start to adjust. There's nothing instant about it.

    As for practicality, there is none. I am moderate protan. The sky has been pink my entire life and I will say, yes, through the glasses it was indeed blue. However, because of the heavy tinting, all the rest of colors in the world were now wrong. Also the glasses are so dark that you can only wear them in direct sunlight. They don't actually solve any problem the colorblind would need them for on a daily basis. They are an expensive gimmick at best.

  21. Next we'll hear that x-ray glasses don't really work. If we can't believe what we see and hear on social media then what can we believe?

  22. "No they do not work………Yes they do work" ?? You are WAY too overly animated!!! You are the type of person, who if teaching in front of a classroom, would drive everyone nuts. If you want to present data and imagery, do so and narrate. If all you want to do is yell and talk, do a pod cast and stop flailing and flapping your arms all over the place.

  23. __________________If after they put on the glasses they can name colors correctly, then they're seeing the world of color the same as everyone else. Or if they can do a colorblind test and pass with a normal score, they can see like everyone else. That's the only proof there is. You keep saying that they don't see colors normally with the glasses. How do you know? You can't see through their eyes. That's your opinion that it doesn't work and you should state it as such, not as fact.

  24. I think, those glasses would be a good thing for my boyfriend, because he only has a mild form of deuteranomaly and blocking the little overlap he has, would make a real difference for him.
    On the other hand, there are some videos out there that seem pretty fake, because either the amount of colorblindness described seems too severe to be solvable by the glasses or the amount of new colours people suddenly claim to see is too high.
    I try to convince my boyfriend to try them, but they are too expensive.

  25. how will we ever know what "normal colors" are… what if I see a different green than your green but we both identify it as green.

  26. I'm definitely red-green color-blind, and I did buy a pair of these upper-scale glasses. I brought them back for a refund the next day. The money I got back was green.

  27. Now the tendence is to explain something as an histeric man, and me as spectator must to understand all quickly, even it can be confuse to caprure each point.

  28. For those of you who are color blind, do you find that you can spot deer (especially at night) prior to others? If in a plane, I have been told that those who have difficulty seeing color usually spot camouflage in a desert prior to others.

  29. In school, we had that one color blind kid.
    Because we were assholes we always asked the teacher if he could write with a red pen on a green board to "make things stand out".
    XD
    The the other "joke" was to show him a red cable and asked him if he could see the copper in the middle of the cable because he apparently can't see red.
    Poor GUY XD

  30. I just got my lenses today.
    And they feeling crazy.
    It doesn't fix my colour vision it's actually making it worse but I ca Pass that test with them.
    Every thing looks blurry.
    Don't know maybe better choice would be glasses?
    I'm bit disappointed so far 🤔
    I'm very confused 😀

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