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  • Q&A with Australian Health Practitioners

    How will monochromacy (type of colour blindness) affect my child's future?

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    My child has a rare form of colour blindness referred to as monochromacy - he cannot perceive colour at all, and sees the world in shades of grey. This is a very sad realisiation to us as parents, because he will not understand the world in which others live in. Will this effect his future?
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  • Meri has 17 years experience as an orthoptic clinician. She works as an academic/lecturer in the Department of Clinical Vision Sciences and has completed a … View Profile

    We usually detect colour based on the wavelength of the object we are looking at. Your child, unfortunately cannot do this because he/she has only on photopigment.The light sensitive cells in the retina (at the back of the eye), specifically the “cones” are responsible for colour vision The cones contain 3 photopigments (pigments which respond best to a particular wavelenght of light). These are: chlorolabe (green); erythrolabe (red) and cyanolabe (blue). If one or more of these photopigments is either missing or defective, this will cause colour vison loss.

    So, whilst your child does not see colour like most other people and cannot label objects according to the wavelength of light, he may be able to correctly label by using brightness. Through their lives monochromats notice that other people label dim objects as red and bright objects as green, so they learn to label colours on the basis of brightness.Also, when they see natural objects such as fruit, the task of colour labelling is made easier because they have other cues, such as the shape of the fruit.

    For most activities your child probably won't even notice the colour blindness (neither will the people he comes into contact with) as he will be able to adapt very well. Where it could cause a problem is choosing a profession where colour vision is essential, for example you need to have perfect colour vision to be an electrician, a pilot etc.

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