Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Glasses that cure colorblindness

O2Amp makes tinted-lens glasses for the medical profession. ...

But the purplish pair, the Oxy-Iso ($302), has an unintended side effect, the Web site says: they “may cure red-green colorblindness.”

I just about hit the ceiling when I read that. Like about 8 percent of the male population, I’m colorblind; I have severe red-green colorblindness. ...

Unfortunately, the Oxy-Iso glasses did nothing for me. I still failed the Ishihara tests.

“We do have about one or two in 20 that don’t get any benefit, and it’s due to their colorblindness being too severe,” the inventor wrote to me. “What our technology does is amplify weak red-green sensitivity. But if there’s basically no red-green sensitivity at all, then there’s nothing to amplify.”

If the Amazon reviews are any indication, these glasses do permit many colorblind buyers to distinguish colors for the first time.

But the company notes that the Oxy-Iso filter amplifies the red-green discriminations “at the expense of their intact yellow-blue discrimination. In a sense, the Oxy-Iso spreads the color confusion more evenly around the color wheel.” That’s why you shouldn’t wear them for driving, because “yellow lights will become nearly invisible.”

But if you’re red-green colorblind, and it’s worth $300 to be able to distinguish colors for the first time, you should try them. You get your money back if they don’t help you.
--David Pogue, NYT, on better seeing through technology