Is your child unable to differentiate between different colours? Does she often view red and green as the same? Poor vision may not be the culprit. It may just be a case of colour blindness.
By Ashwin Dewan
Ronita Hirji, mother to four-year-old Aakash, recently discovered that her son has been colouring leaves in purple and apples in blue! Initially, she thought that her child was unable to grasp colours but when this started happening on a regular basis and extended to other everyday objects as well, she took him to a doctor. A few tests confirmed what Ronita had suspected – Aakash was suffering from colour blindness.
Aakash is not the only child suffering from this illness. In fact, an increasing number of children suffer from colour blindness, but parents do not realise it until much later. In simple terms, colour blindness is when children face difficulty in telling the difference between certain colours.
If your child is suffering from colour blindness, the symptoms might appear around the age of four. Most children who suffer from this condition inherit it from their parents at birth.
However, colour blindness in children is not always inherited. Other causes of colour blindness can range from macular degeneration, aging, injury to the eye, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma or cataract, etc.
Let us look at the main cause of colour blindness in children. According to a leading health website, there are two types of light-sensitive cells called rod and cones in the retina of the eye. Rod cells see things at night but do not pick up colours while cone cells pick up brighter light and are able to differentiate between colours.
There are usually three types of cone cells and each type is responsible for picking up a different colour such as red, green, and blue. In the case of a child who is colour blind, only two out of the three types of cone cells work normally.
Red-green colour blindness is the most common type of this condition in children. It occurs in about 8 per cent of the boys and is slightly less in case of girls with a per cent of 0.4. Blue-colour blindness happens in only 5 per cent of cases and occurs equally in both girls and boys.
Colour blindness is more common in men than in women, though women are the carriers of the gene. Parkinson's, cataracts, Leber's hereditary optic neuropathy, Kallman's syndrome, shaken baby syndrome, accidents and overexposure to ultraviolet light are other prevalent causes of colour blindness.
Children who suffer from colour blindness see colours differently as compared to normal children. In fact, they often see two different colours as the same, and most of the time, they see green and red colours as the same.
A child who suffers from colour blindness might have trouble identifying some colours. This might become obvious at preschool or at school especially with activities like sorting blocks, copying or colouring different coloured text.
Go through the following ClipBook to know about the different aspects of colour blindness.
If you suspect your child of being colour blind, the main symptoms to look out for are:
Currently, there is no treatment for inherited colour blindness. If your child is colour blind, the doctor will organise special tests. If there are people in your family who have colour blindness, you should get your child tested.
Contact lenses and glasses with filters are available to help children suffering from this condition. There is no cure for this condition, but it is not a serious condition and children learn colours by association. Fortunately, the vision of most colour-blind people is normal in all other respects.
With inputs from Dr. Rajath Athreya, Consultant Paediatrician and the Lead Neonatologist at Rainbow Children’s Hospital, Marathalli, Bengaluru.
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