The Benefits Of Color Blindness

By: Leon Shivamber



Don’t always focus on the most obvious colors, but look at the subtler shades, and embrace diversity of thought!

Leon Shivamber
Eye and Color Blindness
Eye and Color Blindness

Color blindness, a color vision deficiency in animals, is the inability to perceive differences between some of the colors that others can distinguish. It is most often of genetic nature, but may also occur because of eye, nerve, or brain damage, or due to exposure to certain chemicals.

Color blindness is usually classed as disability; however, in selected situations color blind people have an advantage over people with normal color vision. There are some studies which conclude that color blind individuals are better at penetrating certain camouflages.

WWII teams that analyzed aerial photographs were looking for unusual patterns, so a color blind person could prove useful. From an evolutionary perspective a hunting group will be more effective if it includes a color blind hunter (one in twenty) who can spot prey that others cannot.

Excerpts From Color blindness – Wikipedia

I discovered I was color blind early on. It wasn’t hard to think of this condition as a disability. Art was a difficult class, and my hopes of becoming a doctor were not likely when during biology I could not really discern some of the key points the teacher was trying to highlight.

Color Blindness Test Pattern
Color Blindness Test Pattern

Over the years though I have found my color blindness to have more benefits than deficits. Not just in the ways identified through technical studies, but in many less obvious ways:

  • An appreciation for the subtler shades
  • Uncolored perception
  • Recognition that what what I see may not be the same as everyone-else
  • Discovery of facets of humanity that were more important than color

So you see, if you are looking for innovation or trying to solve problems bigger than your current thinking, you may need some color blindness. Don’t always focus on the most obvious colors, but look at the subtler shades, and embrace the diversity of thought!

Don't always focus on the most obvious colors, but look at the subtler shades, and embrace the diversity of thought! Please Click To Tweet

Is color blindness a disability?

Color blindness is a medical disability, but not a legal disability for the purposes of receiving social security benefits in the United States. In other countries, there may be other color blindness disability benefits, however, I am not aware of any specifically.

What is a disability?

Wikipedia says: “A disability is any medical condition that makes it more difficult for a person to do certain activities or effectively interact with the world around them (socially or materially). These conditions, or impairments, may be cognitivedevelopmentalintellectualmentalphysicalsensory, or a combination of multiple factors. Impairments causing disability may be present from birth or occur during a person’s lifetime.”

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) defines a person with a disability as a “person who has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities.” It is important to remember that in the context of the ADA, “disability” is a legal term rather than a medical one.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) defines a disability similarly, also a legal term, not a medical one. Here is how they describe a disability:

“The law defines disability as the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity (SGA) by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment(s) which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months.”

You might like this piece on color blindness also…

Thanks for reading this far. How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate it!

As you found this post useful...

Would you please share?

We are sorry that this post was not so useful for you!

I can use your guidance!

Will you share with me how I can improve this post?

51 thoughts on “The Benefits Of Color Blindness”

  1. Great article, I would never have thought there were different camouflages that non-colorblinds couldn’t see. Although I’m not completely colorblind, I am color deficient or protant (red-green). I always find topics of color interesting because as a self-employed commissioned virtual artist most of my clients and friends find it hard to believe that I’m colorblind in the first place. I did some reading today and heard someone in the same field describe their own work as grayscale because they’re afraid of using colors. Maybe because I can’t see how bold some colors are, it makes me more likely to use them in an interesting way.

  2. Well I wish there was a cure but there is not.

    That being said it has not been a boone to be color blind. There are areas you will develop that others dont. Perhaps key is to hide and hide well.

    In my situation it is about thinking as fast as you can and in different ways. If you can tell some colors but not all, then what is missing? Out of what is left what additional information can you glean? What resources are really at your disposal?

    I work electronics….yeah dont know how but I do and have been a long time. Thinking fast and connecting things different ways works best. Beware your responses, dont talk too much, others will pick up that you think differently than them, they will wonder why…

    Focus on your production and what you can get done, and keep quiet.

    Camouflage is serious and not a joke, the mix of colors from a gilly suit dont throw you. You’ll see snakes faster than most others, yay that.

    If an employer doesnt ask and doesnt test, keep moving.

    In regards to safety, you know your limitations, call it short on anything that threatens life. You still keep quiet but ask for secondary verification due to the nature of what is being fixed, there is almost always a reasonable way to request additional verification. Let them think you are eccentric to some degree.

    Although no one says this and as I have mentioned above hide and hide well. The world is Gattica for those of us who are color blind but thinking fast and different can make you good at a job even if you are blind to color.

    P.S. color tests….depends on the tester and the test. You may find some use the caps and they want you to order them, well there are numbers under the caps, just put in order. Ish is toughest but maybe color. lind contacts. The lantern test, trick there is to determine position of the light, sometimes it is off to the right or left versus the other color. Think outside the box.

  3. Hi I am colour blind & I do not like gold type things like jewelry so is it a problem related to my colour blindness or it is just my own problem. May I become an electrical engineer?

    • Hello Utkarsh. Its highly unlikely that your dislike for gold is related to colorblindness, and more likely just a personal taste. I have many friends that are Electrical Engineers that are also colorblind. best wishes

  4. I also found out whilst i was in the military in my early 20’s that i was colour blind. Unfortunately, i had already completed and passed both the explosives and underwater scuba engineering courses. They later checked and discovered I was colour blind and they were going to remove my tickets for these qualifications… i then asked to be retested, so i studied the colour cards / charts that were available from the state library in the medical sections and when re-tested, i passed the colour test (lucky for me…).
    Strangely, i always wondered how i passed the explosives testing and navy scuba tests, given it was a pre-requisite to not be colour blind…

  5. Hi Leno,
    You are sharing great article about color blindness, some people thought that its a major deficiency but the secret bind the color blindness is great.


  6. This is really interesting. Rather, it was really interesting to read through the comments. Seems like even if you are colorblind, because the shades are different, you can still see just fine.

  7. I worked in sporting goods at a department store. One day they needed me to transfer temporarily to men’s clothing. I told them I’m color blind and wouldn’t be able to help anyone pick out clothes. They sent me there anyway. Customers kept asking me things like, “What tie would go with this suit?” I’d look for a tie the same color, and would pull it out, not saying anything. Customers started saying, “Wow! That’s perfect!” People were raving at what a great job I did picking out ties to match suits and shirts. I think there was an exact match in the range of colors, which I found, but I didn’t see the blended colors, which the customers saw. The men’s clothing department asked me to fill in on a number of occasions after that.

  8. I’m a colour blind as a result i’m nullified to joining in indian air for7ce. And also i’m suffering problem in my study carrier in mechanical engineering a result i’m depressed.. Please help me how could i can get rid off from the depression.:).

  9. I have never really thought too much about the benefits of color blindness so this is super interesting. Thanks for sharing all of this! This is super interesting!

  10. Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if that would
    be okay. I’m definitely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.

  11. That is a very quality blog Leon! Great content and a neat design. Please, keep creating such great posts, I am sure all user would find them as valuable as I did. Thanks.

  12. That’s interesting to think of color blindness as an advantage. I bet it would be hard to use your peripheral vision when driving through traffic lights if your color blind. Thanks for sharing.

  13. This lady was buying a maroon lighter and said ” I will take the red one” the clerk replies “oh, you mean the maroon one? She replies with “Oh most men are colored blind so i assumed you thought it was red!”

  14. After checking out a number of the articles on your site, I seriously like your technique of
    blogging. I book-marked it to my bookmark site
    list and will be checking back soon. Please visit my website as well and
    tell me your opinion.

  15. I was happy to find that the colorblind are at an advantage in very specific things, such as camouflage, but ultimately it is a disability for me.

    You see, I always wanted to be Special Operations. Neither the Rangers or SEALs allow colorblind applicants. I’ve heard about a couple SEALs who ‘cheated’ the test, but after exhaustive searching I have not found the way they did it.

    I have the drive, toughness and patriotism it takes to become a top-tier professional soldier, but this simple shortcoming has stopped me in my tracks.

    • Austin, thank you for visiting and leaving your comment. Yes, unfortunately there are roles that being colorblind will keep you from. My understanding is that the SEALs have a specific requirement related to their special use of red and green lights for signaling. This requirement fundamentally affects their safe operations and cannot be waived. Maube someday they will move to more neutral colors like say yellow and blue, but red and green are less visible and more desirable in covert operations. However, I am sure there are many other way that you can serve the country bravely, that do not have the same limitations. That the Rangers and SEALs are selective and operating at a uniformly high level does not mean that there aren’t other branches that have smaller groups of highly trained, very skillful service men and women. Talk to your recruiter, I am sure there is something suited for you out there, that will match your passion and drive. Best wishes.

  16. I do not even know how I ended up here, but I
    thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but definitely you’re going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already ;) Cheers!

  17. Hello Leon, Awesome and authentic information about color blindness. I always love your writing style for your creative choice of topics and your writing style. Thanks for you great share.

  18. Hi,
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on colorblindness. As a person who isn’t colorblind, these are some things that I would have never noticed before. Thanks for opening my eyes to this,

  19. This is really interesting, You’re a very skilled blogger.
    I have joined your rss feed and look forward to seeking more of your wonderful post.
    Also, I have shared your website in my social networks!

  20. Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This
    is a really well written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and
    come back to read more of your useful info.
    Thanks for the post. I will certainly return.

  21. i am 45 years old . I am color blind and have never had a problem telling the difference between the shade or color of the traffic lights and what they mean.

    • That’s because they are always in the same order. Top to bottom. They were designed like that. Plus after a while or 80% of the time if someone tells me a color my eye can adjust to see that color, or rather my mind adjusts.

  22. hi, wouldnt that be frustrating.. when your son can see red as green. Ever thinking he might get in an accident when he misreads a traffic light?

  23. Hi all,

    I’m a mum of a 2 1/2 yr old son, and we’ve just discovered that our son may not be seeing red, but instead sees it as green.

    Can I know whether there’s anything that could be done to rectifiy this. We are scared that he may face difficulties in life due to this small aspect that seems to have been taken away from him.

    Is there anything that we could do to help him? Would appreciate your feedback very much. Wish you all the very best and the strength to achieve all that you aspire.


    • Reflecting my personal experiences and disadvantages being a color-blind in an environment (educational institutions and color-driven arts), my advice is to interest him in quantitative fields or some career that requires extreme level of attention that doesn’t involve color.

      • I agree with ColorPls. There are some jobs you just cannot do. You cannot be a commercial pilot. Your son will find his way toward the things he is good at. Don’t worry too much. The colours of traffic lights have been chosen at the spectrums that will be visible to everyone.

      • Sorry to get involved 5 years later haha, but I would say BS to that. I am colourblind, and I hate that people are turned around towards anything to do with colour. Understandably jobs like electrician, pilot etc require precise colour recognition. But, please do not be turned away from the creative industry, I am in my second year of university studying Graphic Design. I have worked for companies, met creative directors who are also colourblind, I receive high grades. I have a severe version of red-green colourblindness and I seriously think life is way too short to limit anyone. If anything, colourblindness helps me! I have to concentrate on colour palettes more, I research colour more intensely in turn, this only grows my knowledge.

        Im sure your kid is growing fast now, but keep him creative. please.

        I’m currently undertaking a project looking at ‘Design for Good’ and I’m trying to find ways in which people see colourblindness as a positive and something that can aid in certain situations. Turning what a lot of people see as a negative (being colourblind) into a positive.

  24. I have always found jigsaws easy although I have been told I was one of the worst colourblind cases my doctor had seen.
    I find it easy to do the sky on jigsaws or similar coloured pieces as I do not usually look at the colour just the shapes which really irritates my wife as I put in piece after piece with little time between pieces.

  25. I don’t know if you’ve experienced the phenomenon I’m about to describe, but it’s very interesting. looking at it philosophically, it also describes a character trait I hope that I possess.

    Sometimes, I’ll see what I think of as a “fringe color” – a color which I know may or may not register correctly. I’ll look at the item, and by changing my decision as to what color it is, I can actually see it change color. It’s a unique feeling knowing that reality is merely perception and this is a fantastic way to prove that, at least to yourself.

    Also, because of our enhanced perception of luminescence and textural qualities, some colorblind people make amazing artists. My mother always told me I saw things differently than most, that I had a firm grip on shading and lighting. I only recently discovered that that is due to being colorblind.

  26. Nice entry. I too am color blind and have found all kinds of advantages besides the tactical ones the military found.

    • What are some advantages? I am color blind, too. I got spanked by a teacher when I was only six because the teacher thought I was playing around with her by guessing a wrong color when reading the tests. I gave up chemistry major early because I could not write the color. Recently, I came across people with a condition, synethesia, which is the opposite of color-blindness; those people have joint sensations with colors. So, I am doing my research on possible benefits of being color blind; so please share with me and elaborate.

      • Synesthesia is not the opposite of colorblindness, it is just when other sences get tied to colors. For example, certain frequencies of a sound will have a color to them. When I play certain chords to a song they might appear to be a shimmering silver or a reflective sparkling yellow. I am red green colorblind but I still can see in color. The eyes have rods and cones. Rods are activated by shades of black and white and are responsible for low light vision like seeing in the dark. Cones are activated by frequencies in the rest of the visible light spectrum so they give us color vision. They are responsible for our daytime vision. There are 3 types of cones: red, green, and blue and they are activated by frequencies in those colors. Most people that are colorblind have all there types of cones except that instead of them being equally spread apart by frequency to of the cones are activated by almost the same frequency of light, making it seem to us that we only have 2 different cones. This is how the red green color blindness works. Humans are trichromats meaning they have three cones. Dogs are dichromats meaning they only have two cones. Colorblind people have three comes but like I said before, two of them are activated by such similar frequencies that it appears to us that we only have two. It is interesting to think that I see like a dog! Also the areas in the brain that create color are still there In people with color blindness so even though their eyes do not send the appropriate signal to tell the brain what colors to create, the brain is capable of creating the colors. While taking LSD or other psychedelic drugs I have seen colors that I have never seen before, and I have noticed that my ability to distinguish colors is greatly enhanced. It also allows one to experience synesthesia which is a trip in itself. Remember that color is not real. Color only exists in our brains as a representation of certain frequencies of radiation reflecting off of objects in the world. Remember that next time you are trying to pick the color to paint the walls in your house. There is no such thing as color, it only exists in our heads as a way to differentiate the world! Have w fantastic day✌

  27. Great blog Leon!

    This article reminded me of
    1) How I discovered you were color blind (when I plotted in red and blue the impact of our different approaches on the inventory costs of a client)
    2) us walking in the hall of biodiversity in the Museum of natural history,…

    and then, a thought: If people understand that, they will surely understand why minorities are important to a society

    Thanks Leon


Leave a Comment