Specialty eyewear a potential game-changer for those who are colour blind

There were no eureka moments, but there were some pleasant ones.

As the world went about its business, four people and accompanying family members converged on an optometrist’s office in north Oakville Thursday morning for a potentially life-altering experience.

One by one, the four, including Oakville’s Jack Sansone, tried on a pair of EnChroma glasses, designed to help those with colour blindness distinguish colours and see them more vividly. To those who are colour blind the world can appear dull; it’s challenging to decipher colour codes or read traffic lights and avoid fashion faux pas.

There can be socially awkward moments, said Dr. Jeff Goodhew, who operates Abbey Eye Care with his partner and wife, Dr. Tina Goodhew.

Abbey Eye Care was the third optometry office in Canada and the first in Ontario to sell the EnChroma specialty eyewear.

“Over the years, I had more and more patients travelling to the U.S. to try the glasses and reported back to me that they really appreciated the difference it made to their colour perception so we reached out to EnChroma and requested to be a retailer.”

In the past two months, they have sold 30 pairs of the glasses.

Sansone, 45, knew as a kid that he was colour blind but didn’t fully comprehend what it meant until he was tested.

“I applied for the police force and badly failed the colour vision test and thus could never be a police officer,” said Sansone.

When his girlfriend says the “leaves are so beautiful or the rainbow is amazing, you kind of feel like you’re missing out but I don’t know any different.”

“I’ve also been to Hawaii and everyone said the scenery was so beautiful, but I couldn’t see what they saw. I always confused my colours as a kid and teen but never really knew the severity.”

“I think I am more excited than him because I know what he’s missing,” said his girlfriend, Edel Padilla.

Having slipped on the glasses, Sansone slowly took in the room, specifically the props of colourful balloons, flowers and Rubik’s Cube, under the watchful eye of Abbey’s optometrists and his girlfriend.

“I see a difference there,” said Sansone as he stared at the Rubik’s Cube with its vibrant red, blue, yellow, green sides. “I think it’s taking time, but it’s starting to adjust. When I first did this without glasses, it was very difficult to tell red and green (on the Rubik’s); now it’s starting to get darker and darker, the green especially. I can tell them apart now, whereas I couldn’t before; it was very blended.”

Jeff was not surprised that there were no “crazy over the top/OMG moments which you see on the internet,” from the four participants.

“In fact, when customers come we have to reset their expectations. But after a few minutes of wear, some interesting things start to emerge; new colours are seen, reds are more vibrant, sometime orange or purple is correctly identified for the first time. It’s almost like some folks have sensory overload and they need time to process this new colour information and they need to relearn new colours. But 90 per cent of folks who come in end up purchasing the eyewear.”

With his glasses, Sansone said he would like to go to Niagara Falls to see a rainbow over the Falls and perhaps take in a Toronto Raptors game, “especially if they wear their red uniforms.”

The most common form of colour blindness is a red/green deficiency, said Jeff.

“If people have a defect in the green cone in the retina, then they are deutans; if they have a defect with the red cone in the retina, they are a protan. So, folks are typically deutans or protans and within that, to complicate things, folks can be mild, moderate or severe, so there is quite the variation or spectrum of colour blindness.”
Photo credit: Nikki Wesley/Metroland
Original article at: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2018/03/19/specialty-eyewear-a-potential-game-changer-for-those-who-are-colour-blind.html

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