An Overview of Color Vision

Color Vision

The human eye is a fascinating combination of various parts that work together to provide color vision. Comprehensive eye care involves diagnosing and treating illnesses and disorders that might compromise vision. We believe that understanding some of the basic processes such as how the body perceives, detects, and distinguishes color can you better understand the care you are receiving from our optometrists.

Not to get too existential, but objects do not contain inherent colors. Instead, various surfaces of objects reflect and absorb wavelengths of light at different rates. The amount of wavelengths that are absorbed and reflected depends on the specific object. Differing degrees of absorption and reflection will create different colors. Objects appear the color or colors which they most readily reflect.

As light waves reflect, they bounce back and collide with the retina located in the back of the eye. The retina contains millions of very small cones. The cones vary, with some responding strongly to red light, others responding strongly to green light, and a few preferring blue light. The type of light hitting the cones determines how the cones will respond. This response sends a signal through the optic nerve to the part of the brain that processes color information, called the visual cortex. After the visual cortex perceives the color, the brain has performed its job.

Some people have a condition that prevents them from perceiving color as other people do. This color vision impairment can be diagnosed by an eye specialist during a routine eye care appointment. Sometimes red and green are indistinguishable for a patient. Other people may have trouble detecting colors in pairs. The complete inability to detect colors is a rare condition. Comprehensive eye care will assist patients with diagnosing color impairment or a variety of other health issues. Our optometrists have the training and expertise necessary to detect potential problems, which is often the first step in resolving and treating issues.