The most common form of colour blindness in Singapore is red-green colour deficiency.

People with this form of colour blindness find it difficult to distinguish between red, green and blue hues or see these colours duller than they would appear to someone with normal vision," shares Dr Reuben Foo, Consultant from the Glaucoma and Neuro-ophthalmology Departments at Singapore National Eye Centre (SNEC), a member of the SingHealth group.

The prevalence rate in Singapore for this type of colour blindness is 5% in males and 0.2% in females.

5 Tips to manage colour blindness

1. When driving, look at the position of the traffic light.

People with colour-blindness often find it challenging to drive, especially in low light conditions such as in the evening or night and may not be able to see the colour on traffic lights like people with normal vision do.

When driving, try looking at the positioning of the light on the traffic light to help you decide whether you should go, slow down or stop.

2. During grocery shopping, also use your sense of smell or touch.

When grocery shopping, also use your other senses such as smell or touch to determine whether the items you are purchasing are ripe rather than relying on the colour.

3. At home, use a thermometer when cooking, and add colour labels to your drawers.

During cooking and eating, being able to see texture change in the food plays an important role in identifying if a dish is cooked or not, and may prove difficult for a person with colour blindness.

If you plan to cook meat for your meal, use a thermometer to help you gauge whether the meat is fully cooked as you may have difficulty differentiating between raw meat, partially cooked meat and cooked meat.

When doing laundry at home, sort out clothing that are in similar shades and tones and place them in colour coded drawers to help you with your dressing. Label your drawers accordingly for ease of identification.

4. At work, adjust computer screen settings.

On the job, you will likely encounter challenges when trying to access information from sources ranging from the internet, documents, and presentations, to photographs and graphs at your workplace.

Computers and other electronic devices allow adjustment of the settings to make them easier to see. Alternatively, try asking your colleagues for help or use software that are specially designed for the colour blind to help you with your slide preparation.

5. In school, choose a seat with good natural lighting.

If your child is colour blind, inform the school and teachers early so that adjustments can be made in the classroom to help your child such as

  • Placing your child at a seat in the classroom with good natural lighting so that it is easier for him/her to recognise colours. Seats with bright sunlight and artificial light may distort the child’s perception of colour

  • Group and label items in the classroom based on colour codes

  • Usage of black on white books and other support materials instead of colour ones

  • Adjusting computer settings, web pages and computer-based teaching aids so that your child is able to pick out relevant information

  • Use of strong contrast on whiteboards to highlight teaching points instead of red, green or pastel colours

  • Encouraging other children to help your child choose colours when it comes to drawing, painting or colouring.

What puts you at risk of colour blindness and is it preventable?

You are likely to have colour deficiency if you have:

There is no way to prevent colour blindness that is inherited.

As eye disorders such as optic nerve disease, eye stroke, and eye conditions such as macular degeneration and cataract can result in abnormalities in colour vision, regular eye examinations can help to reduce the risk of acquiring colour blindness later in life.

How to know if you are colour blind? 

One of the tests used to detect colour blindness is the Ishihara test (below) where you will be asked to look at Ishihara plates containing a circle of dots randomised in colour and size.

Within the pattern are dots which forms a number or shape that is visible to someone with normal colour vision and invisible to someone with red-green colour vision defect.


How does colour blindness occur?

Colour blindness is a deficiency that occurs due to genetics or missing of some of the colour-sensitive cells known as cones in the eye. You should see an eye doctor for further evaluation if you experience a significant change in colour perception, advises Dr Foo.

Ref: I23

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