The Colorblind Life

By Jake Darling

Throughout my life I have been plagued with some incredibly challenging questions.

“Hey, Jake, What color is this?”

“Can you tell the difference between these colors?”

These may not seem like such difficult questions to someone whose vision is not impaired, but for those with color blindness (more correctly called color deficiency), questions such as these cause an increasing amount of challenges due to people’s assumption that everyone can see the same colors as them.

Having this color deficiency is something which challenges me in many ways on a daily basis. If you have ever seen me at school, you have probably noticed that I always wear either khaki pants or shorts with every outfit. This is because I don’t know how to match my clothes. That’s right; I, a junior in the Upper School, do not know how to put a matching outfit together. Luckily for me, khaki goes with almost everything, but if you ever find me in an outfit with colors that clash, feel free to let me know.

One of many times this horrible condition crushed my morale was when I failed a geography test in fourth grade.

The way things look for people with various kinds of color deficiencies. Image credit: Newstalk.com.

We had to color the continents different colors: one had to be red, one had to be green, and one had to be brown. An easy task for most kids. Just read the color label on the pencil and color it in. But no, this was before anyone had realized I may be color blind (Even after years of me creating brown Valentine’s Day hearts). I failed the test, and I was not happy. I got so upset that my parents had to come in and convince the teacher of the possibility that I was, in fact, color blind, and that I should have the opportunity to retake this test. But that would have taken too long, so my teacher just gave me the points.

When I asked fellow student John Fernandez (‘19) how his color blindness has affected him, he told me that sometimes it is “really challenging to tell colors such as red and green apart.” After reading an early draft of this article, fellow Match writer Zach Bostic (‘18) thought to go check if he too was color blind. Zach told me that “when doing a bit of research,… I went to the ‘color blindness’ Wikipedia page… which reaffirmed I may be colorblind…”

The most surprising thing to me is how different red and green are to the regular eye. I have deuteranomaly, which is caused by abnormalities in the green cones in my eyes, and I see several colors with a more intense red hue. This causes my reds and greens to look extremely similar, to the point where I sometimes can’t even tell them apart. When I asked my mom for clarification on the difference between red and green, she told me, “Jake, we’ve been over this like a thousand times. Red and green are about as different as blue and yellow.” Yet, I still struggle to wrap my head around this concept, so I continue to ask her this same question on a regular basis.

Yes, I am color blind. But it really is not as challenging as I have made it out to be. Sure, I am unable to see the true colors of fall, or have a proper Christmas experience, but these colors are all I know, so it feels as if I am not missing anything. It’s not like the colors aren’t there; contrary to popular misconceptions, my life is not like a black or white movie. They’re just different from how people with regular vision see them. However, recently technology has caught up to my level of color blindness, and I will finally be ordering a pair of color blind correction glasses over winter break. So, come find me in January to see me react like this.

Featured image courtesy of allaboutvision.com.

About the author

Jake Darling is a junior at Collegiate