Hacking around color blindness

I'm fortunate to not have color blindness (that I know of), but it's still interesting to know more about what it is, and once you realize that, how you can give people a workaround for certain kinds of color blindness.

One writer wore glasses developed by EnChroma for a month to see if they would help him. At first glance, it seems like magic, but once you understand what the glasses are trying to do, they make sense.

I've always wondered about color blindness. When I was younger, I was pretty sure I wasn't color blind (I could see all the colors of the rainbow, as well as different hues) but it wasn't clear to me how you would really know, if you've been seeing the same thing all your life.

I remember taking the Ishihara test with the circles made of colors; if you had color blindness, there were some color plates where you wouldn't be able to read the hidden numbers. I would always run across some which were very hard to pick out the number. I'm not sure if that means I have mild color blindness, but if so, it's not noticeable to me, even though I process a lot of photos. At least, no one has told me that they have bad color…

The EnChroma glasses work for the kind of color blindness where some of the red, green, and blue cones of the eyes react to overlapping light frequencies. For example, if the red and green cones overlap enough such that they respond to a lot of the same colors, the brain gets confused and it's hard to distinguish between colors which include the overlapping region. The glasses act as a very narrow filter to eliminate the overlapping wavelengths so the cones don't give the brain mixed signals.

The glasses seem like a great solution, kind of like hacking your eyes. You do end up removing some of the color space, and not just those specific wavelengths filtered out by the glasses. You also lose all the colors with the filtered wavelengths combined with the whole range of the other cone. However, that seems like a good tradeoff since you end up gaining more colors than you lose.