Dangers & Limitations

If you are color blind, you are probably well acquainted with how frustrating it can be. Color blindness can often result in humiliation, for instance I once colored a map in brown and purple during primary school thinking it was blue and green – much to the dismay of my teacher! Like me, I’m sure you have all mistaken someone’s clothes for blue when they were green, or misjudged some furniture. This can be frustrating, humiliating, and embarrassing but most just develop a thick skin and see the funny side. However there is a more dangerous element to consider.

Common Frustrations and Dangers of Color Blindness

Color Blindness and Traffic Lights

red green color blindness dangers
Confusing red & green can make driving dangerous

There are certain situations in which correct interpretation of color can be critical; the primary example is traffic lights. With around 1 in 14 men being red green color blind the risk of misinterpreting the red stop light and green go light becomes apparent. I personally do not have an issue differentiating the red and green colors used in modern LED traffic lights, however the older bulb style ones can be quite difficult to identify. If you are color blind, it is important to consider this whenever you drive. Be mindful of your disadvantage and remember to identify whether the ‘lit’ light is at the top or bottom of the traffic light tree.

Color Blindness and Sunburn

red green color blindness dangers sunburn
The unfortunate side effects of not knowing when to step out of the sun

I am sure nobody associates being color blind as a cause of skin cancer, but if you suffer color blindness I’m willing to bet you’ve gotten yourself a little too burnt down at the beach or working out doors on at least one occasion. My color blindness is relatively mild, yet I certainly can’t see the redness in mine or my wife’s skin when we are outdoors. On a recent holiday my wife was relying on me to inform her when she had had enough sun. By the time I could see that her skin was red, she was well and truly burnt – to the extent that she later fainted from heatstroke. So color blindness may not seem like much of an issue when you feel like going to the beach for a day, but you should always be extra careful to protect your skin and remember that by the time you start to look burnt, you are probably well and truly crispy!

Color Blindness and Food

Color blindness can make many foods hard to differentiate
frustration of color blind people food

For someone with low severity red green color blindness like myself, cooking issues are mostly limited to an inability to tell when the meat I’m barbecuing is done – a cause for embarrassment when cooking for friends, but relatively harmless (if you like your steak still mooing!). However for those with a higher level of severity, the ability to discern the difference between citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes may well lead to some embarrassing situations! However products like tomatoes do hint at a more serious issue: The ability to detect whether or not the fruit is ripe. There are most definitely some fresh fruits and vegetables that can cause quite an upset tummy if accidentally eaten unripe, or worse – spoiled.

Less Severe Frustrations

frustration of color blind people clothes
Accidentally wearing mismatched clothing is a common problem for color blind people

You can imagine that given we live in a colored world, the list of possible situations in which color blindness would offer some form of disadvantage may well be endless. I won’t try to list them all, but here are a few of the more common issues:

  • Children and coloring in: As I experienced – it’s not too flash to grab the purple pencil instead of blue when coloring water!
  • Weather forecasts: We may stop coloring in maps while we’re young, but the weather on TV still uses shades of blue, green, and brown that Color Blind men and women may struggle to identify.
  • Scientific tests: Many tests such as litmus paper tests require the ability to detect a color change to validate findings.
  • Clothing: Choosing or buying clothes with complimentary colors can be quite challenging. We won’t discuss the day I wore a red shirt with orange pants…

The above information certainly paints a grim picture for anyone with color blindness, however it is important to remember that most color blind people were born that way and have lived their entire lives adapted to these disadvantages from a very young age. In fact, with exception of total color blindness, being color blind is probably the least detrimental eye illness of them all.