11 February 2013, 14:21

Color blind glasses exciting novelty?

Color blind glasses exciting novelty?
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Scientists have developed glasses that allow those with the most common form of colour blindness to see red and greens properly. The so-called Oxy-Iso lenses filter out bands of light that interferes with the ability to distinguish shades of red and green. Orginally developed for medical use by a US scientist, they were tested by a neuroscientist from the University of Sussex, Dr Danier Bor. VoR correspondent spoke to him earlier and asked him to describe how he came to use the glasses.

They put out a tweet for anyone who wants to try them out, who is already color-blind, so I applied to the tweet and because I’m a neuroscientist and they were particularly keen on me having a go on them. So they sent me some of those lenses to try and I did for a few days to see what they were like.

Tell me a little bit about your color blindness itself, obviously it’s something you’ve had all your life, but how does that affect your day-to-day life? What can you see and what can’t you see?

I have a pretty standard red-green color blindness. In day-to-day life it affects the red and the amber. On the traffic lights I can’t tell the difference between, but I can tell the difference between those and the green, so that’s all fine. A lot of my colors are, muted compared to normal people, so I might not have the best color dress at times, but my wife can help me with that. On the whole, I actually have many issues as a scientist. If I’m watching a talk and someone presents some graph with red and green lines on it, then I just get lost.

And when you put on these glasses, what happened?

When I first put on these glasses, it was quite exciting really. My young toddler daughter was with me at the time and suddenly her red jumper looked far more vivid and bright to me, her lips looked much brighter. I looked around and the reds and oranges of the world around me looked so much brighter more vibrant. So that was quite a thrill, but over the next few days, I tried using the glasses more comprehensively and as a psychologist neuroscientist I gave myself some of the standard color-blindness test to see how they worked. Normally the standard test a lot of people might have had if they’re color-blind is Ishihara Test – spotting these numbers and all these dots. When I normally do this without the glasses on, I hardly see any of the numbers at all, but I could see all the numbers with the glasses on. That was quite exciting! But there’s a more comprehensive test. It isn’t just test for red-green color blindness called Farnsworth Test – I tried that out and actually that didn’t show much of an improvement. I was better at the red-green part of the spectrum, but some other parts of the spectrum were worse.

So the glasses allowed you to pass the test, the so-called Ishihara Color Test. But it isn’t something that you could be wearing day-to-day, on constant basis.

I could, if I wanted to, but I actually haven’t, because of some of the colors that actually make me see worse, some – significantly worse than without the glasses. Although, I can’t distinguish between colors, no colors are invisible to me, when I don’t have the glasses on. But for instance, my daughter’s baby monitor has a yellow lighter and maybe I don’t know exactly whether it’s yellow or orange without the glasses on, but the light was completely invisible to me with the glasses on. I had no idea whether the light was on or off, that was a little bit disconcerting, so my conclusion from trying out these glasses was that it is a really exciting novelty, maybe if I went to an art gallery, I’d definitely take them with me, that would be quite an exciting addition to the show, but I definitely wouldn’t wear them every day.

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