High-tech glasses help the colorblind see in color

VERNON, Conn. (WTNH) — Do you know why Mark Zuckerberg chose blue as the iconic color of Facebook? It’s because he’s colorblind and blue is one shade he can easily see. Zuckerberg isn’t alone. One in twelve men and one in 200 women are colorblind. But now there’s a new technology that’s helping them fully see the world around them for the first time.

Earlier this year, Vernon resident Andy Buckley received a pair of EnChroma glasses for his birthday. When he tried them on, his world transformed.

“Green seemed to be easier for me to see but reds popped out,” Buckley said. “They just became so much richer, deeper.”

The glasses work by enhancing the colors that to Buckley normally look dull or blend together.

“They say in the literature it may take a few minutes for your mind to sort of get used to it and your eyes, so we just walked around and after about five minutes, the colors started to pop out to me,” Buckley said. It was very powerful. Little by little by little I could see what I wasn’t seeing.”

EnChroma glasses work with red green color blindness — the most common type of color impairment.

“They see colors they just don’t see as many different shades as people with normal color vision,” explained Kent Streeb of EnChroma.

Our eyes contain cells that each read a different color: red, green or blue. But for people like Buckley, the red and green cells overlap, making it hard to distinguish between the two colors. EnChroma glasses filter out the wavelengths of light that cause those cells to be confused.

“The effect is it forces a bit of a more normal overlap between the red and green photo pigments in the eye and therefore the colorblind are getting a more accurate ratio of wavelengths coming into the eye and they can see colors more distinctly as well as enjoy better depth perception, color discrimination, and detail,” Streeb said.

Buckley says the EnChroma glasses have changed his life.

“It was amazing,” Buckley explained. “It answered the question why I’ve not ever really been as interested in outdoor landscaping. I could see flowers, but they weren’t rich, and this completely opened up something that I’d never seen before.”

EnChroma glasses also come in clear lenses, prescription strength and kid styles. The company is in the process of developing contact lenses.

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