Specialized glasses help brighten the world for six colour-blind Ottawans
The world looked a lot more vibrant today for 6 folks at an Ottawa optometric clinic.
All 6 are colour blind and today saw the world, sort of, through rose-coloured glasses.
It's a family affair at the Barrhaven Optometric Centre on Fallowfield: three generations, all colour blind in a world where color rules. Grandfather Donald Wilson is the patriarch at 82, “Traffic lights are all right,” he says, “as long as they’re in a line. If they go horizontal, well, that’s a bit of a problem.”
His son Drummond is colour blind as well, “I do see colour,” he says, “but what I think of as color maybe isn’t what it is.”
His nephews, and Don’s grandsons, 15-year-old Jordy Abdelnour and 12-year-old Matthew are colour-blind as well. Their mother carries the gene.
For father-son duo David Morgan and 8-year-old Joshua, the challenges are a little less threatening.
“Who helps pick out your clothes?” David Morgan is asked. “That’s a tough one,” he jokes, “Mom, right?”
People who are color blind do see color but their range of hues is limited. Fall leaves and colorful sunsets may appear brown or dull.
Colour blindness affects about 1.6 million Canadians, 1 in 12 men and one in 200 women. It is considered a mild disability but it does impact lives.
“For some people, it limits their career,” says Dr. Scott McIntosh, an optometrist at the Barrhaven Optometric Centre, “They can't be a pilot if they have a color vision deficiency and they can't be a police officer.”
But there's hope on that colorful horizon.
“I’m thinking it’s going to get a whole lot better,” says 8-year-old Joshua Morgan, as he waits for his turn to try on specialized Enchroma glasses. The glasses will enable those who are colour blind to see the vibrancy of colours for the very first time. The glasses have been on the market for several years but the Barrhaven Centre is the first clinic east of Toronto to offer them for sale.
Brothers Jordy and Matthew are clearly “wowed” as they place them on and leaf through some books.
“I’m seeing a lot of colours,” says Jordy, “that I’ve never seen before.”
12-year-old Matthew is hoping the glasses will improve his hockey game because he can’t differentiate sometimes between the different coloured jerseys.
“Sometimes, I just pass the puck to other team,” he says, “because I think they're on my team.”
Outside, the contrast in colors is even more vivid.
“All the reds are way more vibrant,” says Jordy, “Everything's popping out at me.”
“The skin tones are just more red,” says Drummond Wilson.
And maybe, the glasses make marriage just a little rosier.
“Do you see a difference in me?” asks Donald Wilson’s wife?
“No, not a major difference,” he says. He admits the glasses didn’t really change his outlook on colour. But he adds, “You’re still just as beautiful.”
The glasses sell for about $300 to $400 a pair. The six people participating today got to keep the ones they tried on.