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As Seen By The Color Blind

As Seen By The Color Blind

In the U.S. 7% of the male population – or about 10.5 million men – and 0.4% of the female population either cannot distinguish red from green, or see red and green differently. Color blindness affects a significant amount of the population, and it is even more prevalent in more isolated populations with a smaller gene pools. It is mostly a genetic condition, though it can be caused by eye, nerve, or brain damage, or due to exposure to certain chemicals.

For those of us who see colors just fine, it is hard to imagine what those with color blindness are seeing. Luckily humans are smart and have created technology like the Color Blind Web Page Filter.

Popular Websites: As Seen by the Color Blind

The Color Blind Web Page Filter, which was used in this post to demonstrate the different types of colorblindness, allows you to view what a site looks like to people with each type of color blindness. Here are a few examples from some popular websites.

Google Logo / Color Blind

TechCrunch Logo / Color Blind

etsy Logo / Color Blind

Digg Logo / Color Blind

Read Write Web Logo / Color Blind

Twitter Logo / Color Blind


Iconic Art: As Seen by the Color Blind

Some would say we all see art in our own unique way... that would be especially true for the color blind. Here are a couple examples of some of the most iconic paintings as seen by the color blind.

Three Musicians by Pablo Picasso / Color Blind
Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol / Color Blind
The Scream by Edvard Munch / Color Blind
Armand Guillaumin: Sunset at Ivry / Color Blind

Color Blindness Background

Using the filter we'll take a look at the current most popular palette, July, and how it is seen by those with different types of color blindness.



The normal human retina contains two kinds of light cells: the rod cells (active in low light) and the cone cells (active in normal daylight). Normally, there are three kinds of cones, each containing a different pigment. The cones are activated when the pigments absorb light. The absorption spectra of the cones differ; one is maximally sensitive to short wavelengths, one to medium wavelengths, and the third to long wavelengths (their peak sensitivities are in the blue, yellowish-green, and yellow regions of the spectrum, respectively). The absorption spectra of all three systems cover much of the visible spectrum, so it is not entirely accurate to refer to them as "blue", "green" and "red" receptors, especially because the "red" receptor actually has its peak sensitivity in the yellow. The sensitivity of normal color vision actually depends on the overlap between the absorption spectra of the three systems: different colors are recognized when the different types of cone are stimulated to different extents. Red light, for example, stimulates the long wavelength cones much more than either of the others, and reducing wavelength causes the other two cone systems to be increasingly stimulated, causing a gradual change in hue. Many of the genes involved in color vision are on the X chromosome, making color blindness more common in males than in females.

Types of Color Blindness


There are three types of inherited or congenital color vision deficiencies: monochromacy, dichromacy, and anomalous trichromacy.




Monochromacy, also known as "total color blindness", is the lack of ability to distinguish colors; caused by cone defect or absence. Monochromacy occurs when two or all three of the cone pigments are missing and color and lightness vision is reduced to one dimension.



Dichromacy is a moderately severe color vision defect in which one of the three basic color mechanisms is absent or not functioning. It is hereditary and sex-linked, affecting predominantly males. Dichromacy occurs when one of the cone pigments is missing and color is reduced to two dimensions.


Protanopia is a severe type of color vision deficiency caused by the complete absence of red retinal photoreceptors. It is a form of dichromatism in which red appears dark. It is hereditary, sex-linked, and present in 1% of all males.


Deuteranopia is a color vision deficiency in which the green retinal photoreceptors are absent, moderately affecting red-green hue discrimination. It is a form of dichromatism in which there are only two cone pigments present. It is likewise hereditary, sex-linked, and present in 1% of all males.


Tritanopia is an exceedingly rare color vision disturbance in which there are only two cone pigments present and a total absence of blue retinal receptors.



Anomalous trichromacy is a common type of inherited color vision deficiency, occurring when one of the three cone pigments is altered in its spectral sensitivity. This results in an impairment, rather than loss, of trichromacy (normal three-dimensional color vision)


Protanomaly is a mild color vision defect in which an altered spectral sensitivity of red retinal receptors (closer to green receptor response) results in poor red-green hue discrimination. It is hereditary, sex-linked, and present in 1% of all males. It is often passed from mother to child.


Deuteranomaly, caused by a similar shift in the green retinal receptors, is by far the most common type of color vision deficiency, mildly affecting red-green hue discrimination in 5% of all males. It is hereditary and sex-linked.


Tritanomaly is a rare, hereditary color vision deficiency affecting blue-yellow hue discrimination.

interview with the Creator of Colblinder

Source: Wikipedia: Color Blindness

Color Blind Image Filter

What colors do you think would help your project been seen by the color blind? Check out Creative Market for some original ideas and downloads.

Showing 1 - 30 of 39 Comments
this is cool! just wondering is there anyone on colourlovers that is colorblind?
i am not a colour blind but i can tell you that being a colour blind is totally not cool!
Illustrations of more color blind tests are in here. The pattern contains part of the colors, but not all.
Color Blind Test 10
Color Blind Test 74
Color Blind Test 42
Color Blind Test 7
Color Blind Test5or2
Color Blind Test 8
Color Blind Test 6
Color Blind Test 56
Color Blind Test 45
Color Blind Test 25
Color Blind Test 2
This is a great article, I am colorblind myself (protanomalic) and I think it's nice for people to know and actually understand what it means instead of all the jokes and "what color is this" questions...

Thanks for writing it. ^-^
Hey! Excellent post.
In Spanish, Color Blindness is 'daltonismo' due to John Dalton.
Ok really stupid question here, but I guess I want to test out how good the filter is....

Those COLOURlovers who ARE colourblind - where the July palette appears next to the filtered version for your kind of colourblindness - do they look like the same image twice?

@asher - people have joked about you being colorblind?! That's just bizarre and beyond moronic! }:[Teleute
@teleute Actually several look like the same ones twice, there are ones that do look different though.

And yea people make jokes or think I can't see color...all sorts of wired stuff.
I wonder if any of our wonderful colourlovers are colourblind.
Very very cool!

I checked some of my art out with one of the filters and was pleased to find that it still "read" pretty well.

It is a very useful thing.
very cool post!
wow, on some of the colours it took me a second to realize they weren't the same colours. then i did, so i guess i'm not colour blind at all. i did know someone who couldn't see red OR green. or he got them mixed up. i dunno...
fascinating stuff, thanks for posting this!
That's really interesting. It's amazing how we take our understanding of colours for granted. This is also pretty damn useful for the line of business I'm in!
A very interesting read; although, in monochromacy, unless I'm misunderstanding something, shouldn't every colour in the example palette be a shade of grey? (Or perhaps my monitor is slightly uncalibrated... ^_^ )

Sidenote - this made the front page of Reddit. ^_^
This is a very interesting and informative article! I have a couple of friends who are color-blind, and I've always wondered how they perceive the colors of their environment. I was too shy to ask them, but at least, this article has somewhat enlightened my queries. :)
Reallly interesting! Thank you!
i registered just to comment on this!

this is so excellent, finally a way to show people what i actually mean easily and effectively. (im colorblind too)

Great post.
I rarely every reproduce other's posts on my blog, But I think I need to share this one with my readers.
Imaginative and informative.
laura sweet
If It's Hip, It's Here.
Wow. That would totally suck if I was color blind. I adore colors and to not be able to see them correctly would be horrible.

Great post.
im not colour blind but i have some sort of colour deficiency... its a perception problem. i have difficulty seeing the difference between red and orange, while all colour-blindness deficiencies have difficuly seeing opposites on the colour wheel... red-green, blue-orange, yellow-purple, or no colour at all.
Thanks for the great article. I shared this with all our team. I work for an online community that depends on user-generated content. We give folks a lot of freedom in our wysiwig to add colors, fonts, etc. which can make accessibility a nightmare. We've begun a series of guidelines to help nudge folks in the right direction, and I'm going to add this to our list of external links.

On a personal note, my mother is color-blind, and she actually got a ticket once because of a traffic signal was turned on it's side, and she ran a red light. She also always took me clothes shopping with her to help pick out color, until she got more confidant and began asking for help from the salespeople.
And to add to my previous comment--I got a little emotional seeing the works of art. It really brought home for me what my mother sees on a daily basis.
My brother is color-blind, so I am not of the type to make fun of people who cannot distinguish colors. HOWEVER, I am guilty of forgetting about it... and not thinking of this in my web and print design. I appreciate this article for reminding me to take this into consideration.

This article was/ is a wonderful and insightful piece of education that I feel everyone should be thankful to read, so often many people take for granted their good eyesight and have not even an inkling of how others may invision what they assume as plain or typical. As the " point of view " of each of us is as individual as we are, so as emotions one may feel for a certain color or palette rekindle a good, bad or indifferent feeling that others do not share, or " see ". Does that make sense ?. Thank You for sharing, My love of COLORlovers grows each time I am here. Sincerely....
Funny thing - I am classed "colourblind" and always fail the Ishihara test (for example I can't make out the number in the example above) but this article has helped to convince me that I have no problem as no pair example looks the same to me - I can always see the difference. I have long believed, for some people (like me), failure of Ishihara does not prove colourblindness. Sadly, people with good coloursight have been denied jobs and careers due to failing the Ishihara test. Thanks for this article.
I am most assuredly colorblind, or, as mentioned above, 'color-deficient', since I'm not monochromatic. I have Protanopia, which is not only annoying, but uncommon. Oh well. Though, to comment to WSW above, very few of the pictures look same side-by-side, simply because the filter isn't exact, and it's equivalent to passing through a filter twice to be filtered in the image and then by colorblind vision.

I spent most of my young life trying to avoid admitting my colorblindness, but the more I have come to terms with it and done research, the more interested I am in colors as a whole - my wife helps me a lot, as she's got a phenomenal eye for color, and I enjoy studying how light combines into colors and the physics of the visible spectrum. It's still frustrating not to understand colors correctly...

For example, I've been wondering for quite a while if the background of this page is grey, green, or pink. Hm.
@Fault - the background is grey. The whole colourlovers website is done in greys and white. Wisely, too, considering it's the background for all the palettes!

Fascinating article, thank you!
Thanks for the links. I came here for help on developing a palette for a course. We do have colour-blind students. I new ColourLovers would be the place to go for help!


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