When your child has color blindness, it means that they have difficulty distinguishing between certain colors — they look either very similar or exactly the same. Red-green color blindness is the most common form, and it's often seen in boys. It's passed down on the X chromosome as a recessive gene, so boys are more likely to express it. The chance is greatly increased if the boy's maternal grandfather was also color blind.
Other forms of color blindness are rarer. These include blue-yellow color blindness and monochromacy. In monochromacy, children can't see color at all.
Color blindness can potentially cause difficulties with your child's schoolwork. Unfortunately, it often goes undiagnosed in children. Taking your child to an optometrist is the best way to learn if they have color blindness. Below, you'll find more information about why it's difficult to tell if children have color blindness and learn some ways you can spot it.
Why Does Color Blindness Go Undetected in Children?
The simple reason is that children are smarter than most parents give them credit for. Children who have red-green color blindness, for example, may be able to correctly tell you that an apple is red and the leaves of a tree are green. However, they're not relying on what they see to make that distinction — they've simply learned by association and repetition that red is something that apples are and green is something that leaves are.
Because of this, it's not uncommon for color blindness in children to go undiagnosed until they're much older.
What Are the Signs That Your Child May Have Color Blindness?
One of the most important clues is what happens when a child is coloring. If a child is using a red colored pencil to color in an area and the tip breaks, they may switch over to a green one and finish coloring the area in without noticing anything is wrong. Pay attention to strange combinations of colors within the lines — this can be a good indicator of color blindness.
Additionally, children with color blindness often struggle with color-matching games. For example, games where they place a peg into a similarly colored hole. These are difficult for children with color blindness because there are no other characteristics about the pegs and holes to use as hints other than color. If your child performs tasks like these slower than other children their age, then it could be a sign of color blindness.
What Should You Do if You Think Your Child Has Color Blindness?
The first thing you should do is to take your child to an optometrist when they're around four or five years old. At this age, they'll be able to understand what the optometrist is asking and respond to questions appropriately.
Optometrists use color plates in order to test children for color blindness. These contain a wide variety of color patterns that are difficult for color-blind people to interpret correctly. It allows your optometrist to determine whether or not your child has color blindness and what form of color blindness they have.
If your child has color blindness, you should inform your child's school. Activities can be modified in order to accommodate your child better, and teachers will know that your child's difficulty interpreting colors is due to color blindness and not a learning disorder.
While color blindness often goes undiagnosed in children due to their rapid ability to learn based on other cues, it's easily diagnosed by your optometrist. It's important for parents to take children to an optometrist before their children start school — this allows them to be tested for color blindness along with other vision abnormalities that their teachers should be aware of.
For more information, contact an optometrist today.