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Scientists Develop Spectacle Lens to Cure Color Blindness

Feb 10, 2013 05:13 AM EST

Scientists reveal that they have developed spectacle lenses that could cure red-green color blindness.

The high-tech Oxy-Iso lenses, designed by a U.S. research institute, will help people who have "red-green deficiency" - an inability to see red and green colors, reports The Telegraph. Color blindness is a genetic abnormality that affects one in every 10 men and some women.

The spectacle lenses were initially developed to help doctors in spotting veins or identifying bruises that are difficult to see. The glasses use filters to enhance the ability of seeing blood oxygen levels in vessels beneath the skin.

But people who have "red-green" color blindness were also able to see the reds and greens once they tried the glasses on. "We didn't design them for color blind people," Mark Changizi, director of human cognition 2AI Labs who developed the glasses with Oxy-Iso lenses, told NewScientist. "But we weren't too surprised to find they help."

Daniel Bor, a colorblind neuroscientist at the University of Sussex, U.K., experimented with the spectacle lenses to figure out how efficient they are. Bor was able to pass the "Ishihara Colour Test", a standard test in which patients are asked to make out numbers within a circle of dots.

Patients who are colorblind cannot recognize the numbers within the dots, according to experts. But those who attempted the test wearing the lenses were able to see the numbers.

However, some drawbacks do exist with the Oxy-Iso lenses. The lenses filter out yellow parts of the spectrum that interfere with the ability to differentiate between red and green. This could mean that a person would not be able to see yellow light in a traffic signal. Since the lenses downgrade the ability to identify yellow and blue colors, they cannot be worn by drivers, as they make the yellow signal at a traffic spot invisible.

The glasses Oxy-Iso lenses are already on sale, with a pair costing $279.

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