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Color Blindness and Lighting

 Color Blindness is a common and misleading name for having color deficient vision. The affected person is not actually "blind", but will see color differently. Color deficient vision tends to affect about 8% of men and 0.5% of women.

Typically this is inherited. The pathway or how it is passed down can be somewhat confusing, but I will try to express it simply:

The 23rd chromosome is made of two parts; either two X chromosomes if you are female, or an X and Y if you are male. Colorblindness appears on the X chromosome, which means for a female to be colorblind, it has to be on both X and Y chromosome (Both Parents) 


A father will not pass the gene to a son, but has a 50% chance he will pass the gene to his daughters as a "Carrier" 

That daughter will not be colorblind. If she has children with a non-color blind man, their son will have a 50% chance of being colorblind. If they have a daughter, she has a 50% chance of being a carrier.

If a colorblind man and a woman gene "carrier" have a son, the son has a 50% chance of being colorblind. A daughter has a 50% chance of either being colorblind, or a gene carrier. 

If a colorblind woman has children with a normal sighted man, all sons will be color blind and all daughters will be carriers

Types of Color Deficiencies 

Red-green color blindness

The most common type of color blindness makes it hard to tell the difference between red and green.

There are 4 types of red-green color blindness:

  • Deuteranomaly is the most common type of red-green color blindness. It makes green look more red. This type is mild and doesn’t usually get in the way of normal activities.
  • Protanomaly makes red look more green and less bright. This type is mild and usually doesn’t get in the way of normal activities.
  • Protanopia and deuteranopia both make you unable to tell the difference between red and green at all.


Blue-yellow color blindness

This less-common type of color blindness makes it hard to tell the difference between blue and green, and between yellow and red.

There are 2 types of blue-yellow color blindness:

Complete color blindness

If you have complete color blindness, you can’t see colors at all. This is also called monochromacy, and it’s quite uncommon. Depending on the type, you may also have trouble seeing clearly and you may be more sensitive to light.

Why do we need to know this? 

Well, first, I wanted to give a background to this.  Secondly, Lighting affects color hues. Color Deficient people see hues differently. 

When Lighting your space, you can likely enhance the deficiency, or possibly ease it.  Using a Higher CRI, Color Rendering Index, fixture will enable someone who is color deficient to have the best opportunity to distinguish color. A lower CRI will create lower color tones for anyone. However, color deficient vision can possibly have yet more difficulty distinguishing colors. 

 Check out this lovely bowl of fruit, It looks similar to a color deficient example, rights....?


It is, but not from a biological reason. This is and example of a high Color Rendering Index, and a low Color Rendering Index.  With a lower CRI, the wave lengths of color are changed. Color is a wavelength of light. Change to the wave length will change perception of the color. Change the lighting, change the wave length... enhance color, or mute it.   

Now - Color Temperature - Kelvin Scale -  This will dictate stronger or weaker colors such as blues or reds. A Lower Color Temperature will enhance or pronounce reds more, and a higher Color Temperature will enhance blues more.

If you are color deficient or have guests that are, you may want to consider your lighting. Knowing what form of deficiency they have will enable you to understand what form of lighting can work best for them. It may make a a big difference to them, and minor difference to you!