Medical glasses aid in color blindness

Feb. 22, 2013 at 2:34 PM
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BOISE, Idaho, Feb. 22 (UPI) -- Eyeglasses made to boost the vision of health care workers appear to have a side effect of correcting for color blindness, U.S. researchers say.

The eyeglasses were developed to help medical workers view changes in the blood beneath skin to identify two types of blood signals: the level of oxygenation in the blood and the variations in the concentration of the blood.

The Oxy-Iso lenses, made by 2A1 Labs in Boise, Idaho, have helped health workers locate veins, for instance, and can help doctors identify bruising not be apparent to the naked eye.

However, it was soon discovered the lenses could also amplify the hues that are muted in a type of color blindness knows as red-green color vision deficiency, NBC News reported Friday.

Eight percent of men and 0.5 percent of women have color vision deficiency.

While the Oxy-Iso lenses produces an improvement for sufferers of red-green deficiency, there's a downside: they may boost red-green hues, but they do it at the expense of blue-yellow hues.

Glasses that filter colored light have long been suggested as a cure for color blindness, but ophthalmology experts say they aren't impressed by the Oxy-Iso lenses.

"It's not new and it doesn't work," Michael Marmor, a professor of ophthalmology at Stanford University said.

The glasses may allow people with color deficiencies to pass the standard Ishihara color vision test for the disorder but they don't do anything to correct the condition itself, he said.

And for most people with the disorder it's not clear they're needed, he added.

"They can see colors. It's not a huge issue for most people."

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