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Eyewear for Color Blindness
A research team has developed eyewear based on new color vision theories that can correct red-green color deficiencies and eliminate that form of color blindness.
Eyeglasses are going beyond just addressing the clarity of a person's eyesight these days, as eyewear based on new color vision theories has led to advances in the understanding of why humans see colors at all and why we have distinct physiological reactions to colors that would be impossible without our ability to see the differences between colors. In times past, people thought that early humans saw in color to better help them identify nutritious vegetation in the forests where they lived. However, that changed in 2006 when neurobiologist Mark Changizi and his colleagues put forth the idea that that human's color vision evolved to perceive oxygenation-hemoglobin (the amount of oxygen in the blood) variations in skin in order to better perceive social cues and emotions. Glasses based on Changizi's color vision theory are now being used medically to enhance vasculature and bruising beneath skin. Now, a second medical application has emerged in the form of helping people afflicted with color blindness.
Dr. Changizi left his academic career to co-found a company called 2AI Labs with Dr. Tim Barber, and their resulting research is now aimed at solving problems in cognitive science and artificial intelligence. That move allowed the team at 2AI to develop new glasses called O2Amps based on Changizi's color vision theory that may work for a number of innovative applications, the first being the medical enhancement of the vasculature beneath skin to help identify trauma and bruising that might be invisible to the naked eye.
Another application for the O2Amps has emerged to help people who are color blind with the development of a variety of lenses called Oxy-Iso, which the researchers say will diminish red-green deficiency, a genetic anomaly present in about 10 percent of all males, although the lenses will also have the side effect of inhibiting the perception of yellows and blues. Successful tests involving colored plates with a circle of dots containing a number visible to people with normal color vision but invisible to people who are colorblind have confirmed the effectiveness of the Oxy-Iso O2Amps lenses. Red-green color blindness was eliminated when test subjects wore the Oxy-Iso glasses and they had perfect testing scores with the new lenses nearly every time. The only problem that Dr. Changizi and his team observed with the new Oxy-Iso red-green deficiency correcting lenses was the decrease in the perception of yellows and blues at the expense of enhancing reds and greens. This specific problem could equal trouble for people wearing the Oxy-Iso eyewear when they are driving because the new lenses make the yellow color in the middle of stoplights nearly invisible. Dr. Changizi and his associates said they will continue testing the O2Amp technology, and hope to come up with even more new uses for the unique new eyewear in the near future.
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