UIW Study Finds Special Glasses Help Colour Blind See Colours Better

Study Published in Nature Journal “Eye” Reveals Stimulation of Colour Vision Functions in Cerebral Cortex and Neural Adaptivity

San Antonio, TXFebruary 7, 2022 – The University of the Incarnate Word Rosenberg School of Optometry (UIWRSO) is proud to announce the publication of a groundbreaking new study that found special EnChroma glasses, engineered with technically advanced spectral notch filters, enhance colour vision for those with the most common types of colour vision deficiency. It should be noted that test subjects with colour blindness experienced immediate improvement, which persisted long-term even after subjects stopped wearing the glasses.

Normal colour vision, predicated on three cones sensitive to red, green and blue light, is essential for critical colour discrimination in multiple occupations and for learning in school. Yet, 8% of males and 0.5% of females have hereditary colour vision deficiency, an estimated 13 million in the US and 350 million globally.

In the study, thirteen colour blind subjects were given the special colour-correcting lenses developed by EnChroma and wore them daily for 11 to 14 days. Cone contrast sensitivity and colour naming were then assessed by presenting the subjects coloured letters visible only to the red, green or blue cones. With the glasses, subjects showed immediate improvement. After 12 days, improved colour vision was sustained even without wearing the glasses.

Most significantly, building upon prior research, the study found immediate and long-term improvement in colour threshold (lowest colour contrast detectable) as well as measures above threshold (readily visible to the colour blind), including colour naming and visual brainwaves (VEPs) with the stimulus visible only to red, green or blue sensitive cones. Selective (cone-specific) immediate and long-term improvement of VEPs with EnChroma lenses suggests they enable stimulation of the brain areas critical for colour vision. Since the colour blind cannot properly receive signals from specific colour cones, the results indicate that EnChroma glasses activate the neural mechanisms required to better see colours and improve and expand colour vision for those with red-green colour vision deficiencies.

Green Cone Specific VEPs in a Moderate Deuteranomalous (Green Deficient) Subject

“Our results indicate that EnChroma lenses can improve colour vision and quality of life in some individuals with colour vision deficiency,” says Dr. Jeff Rabin, professor and assistant dean for Graduate Studies, Research and Assessment at UIWRSO. “For example, a 66-year-old male with severe protanomalous (red cone) deficiency was overjoyed to better see tomatoes in his garden, a complete rainbow, as well as car colours (particularly reds and blues) which ‘pop-out’ when he drives. At a recent six-month visit, a 3-5x improvement in daytime and outdoor colour vision was recorded. We look forward to continuing this exciting research.” 

People with standard colour vision see over one million hues and shades while the red-green colour blind only see about 10% of them. To those with colour vision deficiency, colours appear muted, confusing at times and some colours are difficult to differentiate. 

The study was conducted by Dr. Jeff Rabin, Frances Silva, Natalie Trevino, Harper Gillentine, Liqing Li, Loary Inclan, Gary Anderson, Erica Lee and Harrison Vo.

You may access the Brief Communication at: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41433-021-01924-0

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About UIW

With 140 years of tradition, the University of the Incarnate Word is committed to educational excellence in a context of faith in Jesus Christ, the Incarnate Word of God. UIW programs constitute a liberal education that fosters a well-grounded intellectual resilience, a disposition toward lifelong learning, and an acceptance of responsibility for the ethical consequences of our ideas and actions. Founded in 1881, UIW is the largest Catholic university in the state and the fourth largest private university in Texas. UIW students can choose from degrees offered at the undergraduate, graduate and doctoral levels. The University is committed to graduating students with the lowest amount of debt load possible and to help them secure a career that lifts their lives, their families and their communities. With a beautiful main campus in the heart of San Antonio, in 2019, UIW purchased a 10-acre landmark property at 4119 Broadway which increased the footprint of the UIW Broadway Campus by 15%. The building is now known as Founders Hall.  UIW has locations throughout San Antonio, South and Central Texas, two campuses in Mexico and a European Study Center in Strasbourg, France.  UIW is a leader in international education, with over 146 “sister schools” in 45 countries and it is a proud Hispanic Serving Institution. The University is a member of the NCAA Division I Southland Conference and is proud to have 23 teams representing 14 different sports. UIW is a sponsored ministry of the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

Michael Valdes
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