The World in Color

I’m red/green color blind. So is my brother Tod.

My sister Linda sent us both an article about these new glasses by Enchroma, which supposedly correct for red/green colorblindness.

Naturally, I had to try it.

Yes, they worked…but not instantly. It was gradual…at least for me. (as you can see for yourself in the video). You can only wear these glasses outside and it takes an hour or so before it starts to really kick in (they have different glasses for indoor use). The first night I had the glasses, in the hour or two  before it got dark, I sat at an outdoor cafe and pointed out people to my wife Valerie and tried to identify the colors of their clothes. It seemed like everyone was dressed like clowns…by that I mean, very bright and garish. 

The effect has been much stronger as the days go by. The whole world just looks brighter and much more vivid…especially trees and bushes. I had no idea green was colorful (if that makes any sense). It’s like certain colors are under a spotlight or have been highlighted or spiked with neon. The reds, greens, pinks and purples… or at least what I think are those colors… leap out at me as if illuminated. Purple and hot pink are just stunningly bright to me. I can see a green traffic light and a red light at an intersection now. I can see gradations between greens. I can see that the serial numbers and the seal on the dollar bill are bright green. I never knew that. Hell, for the first time, a dollar bill looks green (or what I see as green anyway). Same for freeway signs. I had no idea they had a color. But there are times the glasses can give you wrong cues.

There was a color on a sign at the Ventura County Fair that I was sure was green, and that Valerie kept telling me  was light blue… well, I can see blue, and that sure as hell wasn’t blue to me. Later, I took the glasses off and went back to see that sign…what I saw as green now looked gray to me. Valerie put on the glasses and the blue looked green to her. So there must be something in that shade of blue that the glasses pick up and amplifies to create green. Color aside, everything seems sharper and more in focus with these glasses on.

When I take the glasses off, the world seems washed out and drab to me… especially trees and bushes, which seem to merge together into blandness. With the glasses, I see distinctions between the greens, which I suppose is what gives me that illusion of the world coming into sharper focus.

What’s even stranger, though, and it may be my imagination, is that there seems to be a residual effect even when I am not wearing the glasses…perhaps becuase I know what some things are supposed to look like now and my brain is correcting for that.

My brother Tod tried on the glasses…and the effect was instant for him, as you can see in this video:

He went back and looked at that same tree I did…and had the same reaction. He’d never seen those colors before, either.

4 thoughts on “The World in Color”

  1. Dear Lee and Tod,

    I always value your friendship and colleague-advise, but this latest exercise in humility and childlike joy reinforce with me how terrific you two really are!

    I am so happy for you both – that you now have the spectrum of COLOR! Sharing with others who know, or have been told, that they are red/green color blind, is a huge public service. You are very special – both of you and I thank you for sharing your photographic record of first hues with your friends.


  2. I too am red / greed color blind and recently received the Enchroma glasses as a gift from my sister. I ran across your blog after doing a Google search on “Enchroma” and “residual effects”. I wanted to see if I was crazy or if someone else had experienced this. Thank you for sharing your experiences here so I could confirm the experience – now you too can know that you are not alone in experiencing this phenomenon (which seems to wear off after some time of not wearing the glasses). I can also confirm that my color vision seems to get better the longer I wear them.

    I’m not naive enough to think that this is a miracle cure or anything, but I do wonder if anyone knows what the long term effects of this correction might be. I’m imagining new neural paths being formed in our brains that weren’t there before.

    At any rate, people with normal color vision have no idea what they take for granted every day. Knowing that these glasses only partially represent normal color vision, I now long for true normal vision.

    Thank you again for sharing.

  3. The videos that you included in this post were awesome! It’s so funny too that your eyes kind of changed from when you were wearing the glasses when you weren’t. I would not have expected that. I didn’t even know that these existed. Thanks for teaching me something new today!


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