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What Happens When Someone Sees Color for the First Time?

A young man received a new pair of sunglasses. What he saw changed his life. 

Ethan Zachary Scott is colorblind. The world he sees is a bit duller than most people’s. But for Ethan’s birthday, he received a new pair of glasses that corrects his vision, letting him see in full color for the first time in his life — and the friend who gave Ethan the glasses captured the reaction on video.

The glasses are called EnChroma, and they come in several styles, with several types of glass for each different diagnosis of color blindness. They have a range of prices, from $329.95 up to $409.95 including a custom design, but most say it’s worth it.

According to ColorVisionTesting.commost people who are color blind, meaning that their ability to see colors is impaired, may be placed under two classifications. They are either “red-weak,” or “green-weak.” Someone who is “red-weak” has more trouble seeing the color red, the shades surrounding it seeming more watered down, weak, and much more green. Similarly, those with “green-weak” vision have trouble seeing shades of green, resulting in colors seeming more red. 

EnChroma glasses are a new design that allows the colorblind to see more colors than they could before. What may have been bland shades of tan and gray will become their “real” colors, more saturated and vibrant. Don McPherson, with a Ph.D. in glass science, accidentally began the design while making protective wear for laser eye surgery. He had used several new lens formulas on the protective wear, and when he tried them on, he was floored. Colors were more brilliant and bright, more saturated, and easier to distinguish from each another. Continuing McPherson’s work, EnChroma used several programs to design new optical filters. These filters were then fitted to the glass, helping to re-align misaligned cones in the eye. They make shades of green and red intersect, forcing the cones of the eye to better identify them.  

Years of further research and development led to EnChroma Glasses. This innovation is an enormous leap forward in optical materials development and in aiding the colorblind to see the world. The final “goal” of EnChroma is to create a diverse range of glasses to correct all forms of colorblindness, and even to enhance color vision in non-colorblind people. They plan to help the world see color more clearly.

Right now, EnChroma Glasses appear to be a pair of normal tinted shades, which is how, at first, Scott was fooled into thinking they were just a nice pair of sunglasses. It wasn’t until he was encouraged to look around that he began to see the changes, including a fantastically bright container of purple sanitary wipes that he had passed every day in the office without realizing they were purple.

Seeing these dazzling new colors for the first time, Scott began to cry. He was giddy at the sight of pink and green Sharpies, totally shocked by their intense shade. The experience was “trippy” and overpowering. He was scared of this entirely new color “purple” that he’d never had before, and explored his own office and the lawn outside with a brand-new enthusiasm.

In some cases, like Scott’s, there are instant results. But according to EnChroma, it may take some time to adjust to the glasses themselves. The company suggests that one wears the glasses for a few hours a day, for a few weeks in case colors don’t immediately appear. Currently, they are working on an indoor version of the glasses, and ones to wear while working on the computer.

The company is backed by over 10 years of research in their field, and they are making strides every day. This new innovation has already begun to change lives and will change even more as they come up with new designs to suit just about everyone.


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