10 November 2023

Undiagnosed colorblindness in schoolchildren

One out of every 12 boys, or people assigned male at birth, are colorblind, and 1 in 200 people assigned female at birth have the condition, too.

Despite this prevalence, only 11 states test for colorblindness during elementary school fall vision screenings. Even ophthalmologists don’t routinely test for it. Including colorblindness screenings in those tests would be a simple move, and one that could make learning easier for thousands of American students.

In a class of 24 students, there is approximately one child who can’t see the pink marker the teacher uses on the whiteboard, who is unable to denote their team’s jerseys in gym, or who wonders why the rest of the science class is marveling over a chemical reaction that doesn’t look any different to him...

Using colors to denote specific information — such as a vivid pie chart, a color-coded map of the United States or a wrong answer marked in red — can cause colorblind students to misunderstand. Teachers and parents can support these pupils by making easy modifications. However, they need to know there’s a vision deficiency in the first place...

When schools in Roanoke County, Va., started colorblindness testing in 2018, they discovered that almost 3 percent of the student population was colorblind. And many children who needed special-education services were colorblind, too. The findings made officials wonder whether the students really needed those services or whether they just had a hard time learning because of their vision deficiency.
It's sad to realize that some of the children I went to school with may have had undiagnosed colorblindness, but were just considered "stupid" by their classmates.  If a child in your family is struggling in school, have them tested (or test them yourself), because corrective glasses are available. (Enchroma home page)


  1. I remember in high school, as the class computers got hooked up to the internet for the first time, we looked up a colorblind test for fun (there was a trick test that would scare you at the end, and we wanted to look up a real one). Two boys in our class discovered that they were colorblind.

  2. Daltonism is a better term.
    I am 'colourblind' but can see colours.
    It is when greens and reds are in close proximity that they become the same colour
    Not all reds, not all greens.
    Some greens, lighter than Kermit, I swear are yellow.
    My two ginger cats shimmer into green on occasion, usually in the sunshine.
    Before LEDs, traffic lights, especially on wet nights, become one colour.
    Sharpening my reactions somewhat.
    Incandescent lights light up red flowers of an evening, where they were invisible before.
    Far from colour blind, but geography at school was difficult.

    1. New word for me. Thanks.


    2. I thought Daltonism is where you have four siblings, each of whom is one head taller than the next.

  3. The final paragraph raises an important issue for parents and educators. If a child begins to exhibit unruly or disruptive behavior or a declining interest in school, or does poorly in one or two classes, school staff can be quick to assume a learning disability or some other complex problem. Often such behavior can be attributed to undiagnosed vision or hearing issues. Perhaps the tone and volume a teacher uses is hard for a student to hear clearly or the fancy PowerPoint presentation is hard to see or hear. Visual and auditory issues can usually be mitigated without the use of drugs or behavior intervention. A thorough exam by a pediatrician to evaluate hearing and vision is called for (recommended by the school health professional and administrator).

    It should be noted that many schools do not have a health professional in the building every day. Many parents do not have health insurance to cover pediatric visits. Medicaid in some states does not cover vision and hearing.

    During my 32 years as a teacher, I experienced countless children evolve from "stupid and disruptive" to intelligent and engaged because hearing or visual issues were diagnosed and treated.

  4. I did not know I was colorblind till I was in 8th grade. I always thought I did not memorize my colors correctly. Come to find out during science class we were covering color blindness and I was the only one that did not see what others saw.


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