“Colour blind” is the wrong expression. Very few people are totally colour blind, but quite a few people have a colour vision deficiency. In fact in most developed countries 8% of men and 0.4% of women have a colour vision deficiency, about half of whom have a severe deficiency and half a mild one.
Colour is important in medicine. Medical practitioners need to be able to see the redness of rashes, the yellowness of jaundice, and the blueness and purple when the patient is cyanosed, the pallor of anaemia and shock, and the colours of the healthy body. They need to be able see fresh blood in stools, vomit and sputum, the stains that differentiate cells in histology, and the colour codes used in hospitals and in specialised medical instruments.
It is well established that medical practitioners who have colour vision deficiency have some problems when diagnosis and care of patients depends on recognising colours. It should also be realised that the colour blind doctor may not always notice that something has been missed because of an inability to perceive the colour of a clinical sign.
This site is designed to provide information for medical practitioners, medical students and prospective medical students who have colour vision deficiency.
Some key issues
• How do I find out if I have colour vision deficiency? How is colour vision deficiency diagnosed, what tests are used, what do the tests mean? Is your colour vision deficiency mild or severe?
• Find out more about colour vision deficiency. There are 7 different kinds, some severe, some mild.
• Problems doctors and medical students have in their work because of their colour vision deficiency.
• I am colour blind. Should I study medicine? Can I get into a medical course?
• Is there treatment for abnormal colour vision?
• Tips for the colour blind doctor and medical student.