Glasses allow colo­r-blind to see more of world


SAN ANTONIO, Texas – In Primo Rodriguez' world, red roses appear drab green, green trees are more gray, and purple doesn't really exist. He's color blind.

His moderate color vision deficiency presents some challenges whether he's working as a graphic artist, driving a car or shopping for his wife.

"It will be, ‘Oh, I got you this great, pink shirt,' and she'll be, ‘Well, it's gray,'" Rodriguez said.

He was eager to try a new eyewear, developed by EnChroma, a Berkley, California, company. The glasses address common red-green color blindness. That's when the red and green cones in the back of the eye send overlapping signals to the brain, resulting in the perception of muddy colors.

"The filter in the EnChroma lenses separates the wavelengths of red and green," said Leah Johnson, who runs an optical store in the San Antonio area.

She said watching people come in to try the glasses and see true colors for the first time has been emotional.

"A gentleman yesterday commented he'd have to learn his colors again," Johnson said.

The company now offers color-blindness correcting glasses for indoor use in addition to the sunglasses previously offered.

When Rodriguez tried them on he said he immediately saw more definition and more color.

"When I'm looking out the window, everything is very crisp," he said.  "Everything is just less muddled. It's like someone cranks the saturation level up."

The glasses won't help everyone with color-blindness. The company estimates 80 percent will be helped, according to its  website www.Enchroma.com, which also offers online vision tests for color-blindness.

The eyewear can be made to include prescriptions and run from about $350 and up.

Rodriguez said he didn't realize how color-deficient his vision was.

"Just when people tell me it's not the color you think it is," he said.

Now, he's enjoying a much more colorful view.

"It's crazy," he said.