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.

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Showing 31 - 39 of 39 Comments
Okay, well it turns out that i am red-green colourblind, and it never really occurred to me until i failed a colourblind test in my biology class. No one believed me, but it's my crushed soul, not theirs.

It honestly feels like there is a piece of me missing. and similar to online research, I love love love bright colors.
very interesting article. thanks for the information.
Wow, this is an amazing post! My father has Protanopia and my boyfriend suffers from Monochromacy, and BOTH have a love of making art. Though, to avoid troubles with color combinations, they both work with gray-scale art (graphite, charcoal, ink wash, etc.). Its amazing to be able to filter things and see them as they do. It gives me a whole new perspective on color (and a good idea of what my kids may end up seeing, as I carry the color blind gene).
Fascinating! I'm not colorblind, but my brother has a form of hereditary red-green colorblindness and I've often wondered what the world looks like to him; so I sent him a link to this article.

He replied:
"I've taken a look at that Color-Blindness site and am glad to report that in all the spectrum of vertical bars [palettes], I could see a difference between each pair. That means that my color-blindness, while fitting to some degree in some of those categories, is not as extreme as is being demonstrated as the contrast between each pair. The one example of art that apparently best demonstrated my color-blindness was the Picasso contrast [Three Musicians, by Pablo Picasso]. After looking back and forth between the two "Picasso's," I noticed that the table-like surface to the left of the center was reddish on the left-hand "original" version. That is an example of how I can see some reds in a way that a person with full color-blindness could not, those reds do not always pop out at me the way that they do with people with normal vision."

So there must be thousands, if not more, subtle variations in individual color-perceptions. How each person on this planet, whether officially 'colorblind' or not, sees colors might even be slightly different from every other person's perception. No wonder our tastes in colors differ so widely!
I've just registered to comment.
I found this page whilst searching for info on colourblindness and found it quite interesting.
For starters, I never knew people actually looked for and designed their own 'pallets'. Surely you colour perfectionists know what goes with what.? ;-)

I'm red/green colourblind (don't know what type of alomy or opia) which is to say that I have trouble distinguishing green from brown, red from brown, blue from purple, pink from grey, yellow from green etc etc.
I also have no concept of 'other colours'. Lilac and violet for example, are just words for colours that look blue.
I only see 3 colours in a rainbow (red blue and yellow).

In the paintings above, I see a slight difference between the top two examples (picaso and warhol).
The Scream paintings look identical as do the Sunset at Ivry.

Anyone know of a web site that shows colourblind people what normal colour vision people see?..;-)
Polythene wrote:
this is cool! just wondering is there anyone on colourlovers that is colorblind?

yes, i'm color blind.
Super cool !!!
Really interesting !!!

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