A Review of New Outlooks on Colorblindness in the Wall Street Journal

by Rich on December 5, 2012 · 0 comments

Recently an article was published in the Health Journal section of The Wall Street Journal regarding new ways of helping those with colorblindness see color differently, and new thoughts on gene therapy. Could it be that there are phone apps and videogames that will help people with colorblindness? Is there a cure available through gene therapy? This article addresses these new aids and gene therapy, and how they could possibly help those with colorblindness have a new lease on life.

The Facts on Colorblindness

According to this article published by The Wall Street Journal, 1 in 12 men suffer from some degree of colorblindness, while only in 1 in 7 women carry the gene that is linked to colorblindness. While many researchers agree on these statistics, there is still some mystery about what testing methods helps identify the degree of colorblindness and therapies that can be used to aid in improving one’s ability to see color.

The reason it’s a hot topic? Simply put, colorblindness can interfere with one’s ability to accept certain jobs including:

  • Airline pilot
  • Police officer
  • Air traffic controllers
  • TSA officer
  • Railroad engineers and more

Imagine for a moment, if you had a lifelong dream of becoming an airline pilot and you couldn’t because you were colorblind. It’s hard to imagine if you are not, but there is plenty of new research that has come to the forefront that gives hope to those with colorblindness, according to Melinda Beck from the Wall Street Journal and Dr. Jay Neitz.

Melinda Beck shares in her portion of an interview on Lunch Break, that it’s more prevalent than we think, while Dr. Jay Neitz explains that for most folks it’s red-green colorblindness. What is interesting about this article is that it elaborates on research that was done in 2009 by Dr. Jay Neitz, which was documented proof that he was able to restore red-green vision into two squirrel monkeys. This was done by inserting the missing gene into a virus that was then inserted into the monkey’s retinas.

While the monkeys are still given vision tests to prove that they can identify colors on a computer screen, this gene therapy has not been perfected for humans at this time. There is no doubt that these hurdles need to be overcome, and hopefully in the near future, Dr. Neitz will have his answer on whether or not it’s safe and effective for humans too.

So, what about new aids for helping those with colorblindness see color better? Just when you thought technology couldn’t get more involved the article shares that there is now a DanKam augmented-reality app for iPhone and Android that were developed using the principle that reds and greens are more vivid and bright, that the user can see when looking through the camera. In fact, some have referred to this app as “magic eyes”. While the apps don’t force them to view the color as they are, they are more vivid, so that the user can tell the difference between the two. In addition, the article is thorough in covering online tools that those with colorblindness can use as well, like Color Name and Hue to help them identify colors, and the Colorblind Avenger app for smartphone cameras. Videogames like PopCap’s Peggle and Zuma Blitz include a gamer switch, so that colorblind gamers can see shapes to identify with color codes.

The article was great in that it covered a lot of research and information on colorblindness, but even better, it talks about real solutions for helping everyone see a more colorful world.

Image source: Google images


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