Bridging the Opportunity Divide

Can’t See Red or Green? Slip on These Shades

January 12, 2015
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Can’t See Red or Green? Slip on These Shades
An estimated 32 million color-blind Americans can't "see" certain colors such as red or green. Horia Varlan/Flikr
They're helping those with vision impairment see the whole rainbow.

Imagine being unimpressed by the rich colors of autumn leaves, or the multiple hues of a sunset. Or even scarier, having difficulty telling apart “stop” and “go” at a stoplight.

It’s a very common problem — there are an estimated 32 million color-blind Americans, who can’t “see” certain colors such as red or green.

But now, the whole spectrum can be accessed by the color blind simply by donning a pair of shades from EnChroma, a Berkeley, Calif.-based startup that makes sunglasses to correct color vision deficiency, Good News Network reports. The specs work by removing the wavelengths of light between the primary colors, amplifying the color signal sent to the brain, the company says.

Interestingly, the invention was discovered accidentally by scientist Don McPherson when his color-blind friend borrowed a pair of his laser safety goggles and realized he could see the color orange for the first time in his life, ABC 7 reports.

MORE: These Hearing Aids Are Like Google Glass for Your Ears

The ABC report also notes that EnChroma glasses are valuable to enhancing one’s safety, as they can help people with color deficiencies more quickly tell apart colors on traffic lights and road signs.

After trying out a pair, New York Times tech columnist David Pogue writes that the glasses helped him see “two entire additional color bands, above and below the yellow arc. It was suddenly a complete rainbow.” He adds, “I don’t mind admitting, I felt a surge of emotion. It was like a peek into a world I knew existed, but had never been allowed to see.” Prices for the specs are now around $300 (not the $600 mentioned in the Times article).

Interested in learning more about the eye wear? Click on this SFGate.com article and also check out the emotional reactions from people seeing certain colors for the first time in EnChroma’s video testimonials below.

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