Also known as color vision deficiency, most colorblindness occurs because of an extreme overlap between the photoreceptors, also known as cones, in someone’s eye. This creates an inability to distinguish between colors, such as greens and reds.
According to the National Institutes of Health, about 1 in 12 males and 1 in 200 females have red-green color deficiency. The condition is usually inherited, but can be acquired from injuries and some other causes.
EnChroma sells glasses that draw on technology developed by Don McPherson, a glass scientist who stumbled on the idea while developing eyewear for surgeons who use lasers. When a colorblind friend tested a pair of McPherson’s glasses, he suddenly saw the color orange. With funding from the National Institutes of Health, McPherson tweaked the concept for colorblindness.
The glasses don’t cure colorblindness. Instead, they help people who have trouble discriminating between colors — a hallmark of the deficiency — filter out certain wavelengths of light and better differentiate between colors. EnChroma gained traction through viral social media videos that show people’s emotional reactions when they try on the glasses.
EnChroma glasses are pricey — they can retail for more than $429. But the company offers special rates on glasses for cultural and educational institutions. Visiting a participating institution is a cost-effective way to try them out — or just enjoy a day with more vivid color.