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Season of Color - Perspectives No. 364

Season of Color

Perspectives No. 364

EnChroma Comparison Image from Venice
EnChroma Comparison Images from Venice

   Since vision is thought to provide 90% of the information we process*, color is a major part of everything we do. However, there are around 300 million people worldwide who have difficulty discerning certain colors. What does our art look like to them? What does the world look like to them? People with red/green Color Vision Deficiency—the most common type—often report only seeing shades of gray in those color spaces. Hard to comprehend in this season where so much red and green is used to create a festive holiday atmosphere everywhere we look.

   Fortunately, there has been a recent technological invention for those with red/green Color Vision Deficiency (CVD)—the EnChroma lens. This special lens was originally invented by Don McPherson to give surgeons eye protection from lasers and to help them differentiate human tissues. McPherson discovered, quite by accident, that the lenses also helped people with R/G CVD to see those colors and all their combinations—some for the very first time in their lives.

   After extensive research and a development grant from the National Institutes of Health, McPherson founded a new company in 2012 he called EnChroma, to manufacture and sell the glasses as an aid for people with the type of red/green CVD that the lenses help to correct. After clinical trials to tweak the process, EnChroma began marketing the glasses to the public. They worked with a paint company to film the reactions of people trying on the glasses for the very first time. People often burst into tears or shout with joy upon seeing the world of color they have been denied for so long. New users began posting their personal reactions on their own social media and directly to the EnChroma site.

   Most people are trichromats, meaning we have three types of color sensitive photo-pigment receptors in our eyes, called cones. Some animals have four, some butterflies have fifteen! We see our world of color by the combinations of red, green and blue light striking those cones and being interpreted by the brain as colors. Because people with CVD cannot distinguish between colors very well, it becomes more difficult for them to discern edges. The EnChroma glasses work by filtering light through up to 100 thin layers of special coatings. These layers saturate the colors in light and separate them into distinct red, green and blue wavelengths, sharpening objects and eliminating confusing overlaps which can cause CVD.

   While the EnChroma lenses cannot cure CVD, or help everyone with it, they are, nevertheless a modern miracle for millions of people. Imagine putting on a pair Christmas morning and seeing the colors of a decorated Christmas tree for the very first time. What a gift.

* Ozorlite. Color vision deficiency. colourvision.info




Copyright Hulsey Trusty Designs, L.L.C. (except where noted). All rights reserved.
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About Us

Photograph of John Hulsey and Ann Trusty in Glacier National Park
We are artists, authors and teachers with over 40 years of experience in painting the world's beautiful places. We created The Artist's Road in order to share our knowledge and experiences with you, and create a community of like-minded individuals.  You can learn more about us and see our original paintings by clicking on the links below.
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We are also regular contributors to the Plein Air blog at Artist Daily.

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