Hopelessly passionate husband, engineer, hacker, gamer, artist, and tea addict.

Enchroma Sunglasses

If you didn't know already: I'm colorblind. Unlike other disabilities, being colorblind is mostly just randomly frustrating, but it does have real consequences (RIP all those Game Boy Advanced game saves). Fortunately, there are people working on cool stuff like the Enchroma Sunglasses to help people like me out! They're a bit pricey for sunglasses, but that's apparently what family is for: I got a pair for Christmas!

If you haven't seen them before, Enchroma glasses have special lenses that can help with colorblindness. Without the glasses, I have a very hard time seeing pink - especially if it's a light pink. With the glasses, I can't see the "correct" color of pink, but I can see a pink. The lenses shift the real colors into a spectrum I can actually perceive as that color.

Unfortunately, because colorblindness affects everyone differently, Enchroma glasses don't work for everyone. There's a test you can take on their website to determine which type of colorblindness you likely have. It'll also give you a rough idea of how well they feel the glasses could help.

My test results
My test results!

The test identified me as a "Strong Deutan", which means I have Deuteranomaly (the most common kind of colorblindness). Like the site says, this means I have difficulty distinguishing between greens, yellows, oranges, reds, and browns because my M cones are defective. I'm also probably affected more than average. The site claims there's a 70% chance the glasses will help me out as a result.

When you get the glasses, you're instructed to not swap between looking through the lenses and looking with your naked eye. This is because the "re-mapping" of the colors (or lack thereof) you're used to seeing takes a bit for your brain to understand. If you keep swapping back and forth, it'll be harder to get the desired effect (and then you'll want to return the glasses, which they obviously want to avoid). So, to test them out my family also took me to Leu Gardens in Orlando, Florida for the day. Given that I can't see green or pink or other "plant" colors well, it seemed like a good idea.

There are a number of reaction videos online of colorblind people donning the glasses and almost immediately being overcome with emotion at being able to see properly for the first time ever. Unfortunately, that wasn't me. Fortunately, that wasn't because the glasses don't work at all. They do! I'm just not sure there's enough color vision left in my cones for them to truly work their magic.

On our way out to Leu Gardens, I had two extremely jarring experiences: The first was seeing the green part of a stoplight as a green light for the very first time (it's entirely colorless to my normal vision). The second was seeing all the green signs along the highway. Since I previously thought all of those were gray, that was...pretty shocking for me.

In addition to being able to see man-made stuff properly, all the grass and trees around me were a lot more vivid. I can actually perceive grass and trees as green (depending on the plant, anyway), so this wasn't as jarring, but it was pretty surreal. Everything looked...wrong, yet somehow better for it. Very weird.

Anyway, the actual gardens themselves were gorgeous! Seeing pink flowers as actually pink was pretty crazy and there were a number of plants that had crazy red/green contrasts going on that I'd never understood before. Because I can't see red correctly, purple is also messed up for me as well. Turns out purple is a pretty common plant color, too, which was new to me (purple is also a far more interesting color than I had previously given it credit for).

In an attempt to show some of my other colorblind friends and family members (like my grandfather) how the glasses work, I took some pictures. The left-hand part of these images is a normal photograph. The right-hand part of these images is a photograph with the glasses placed in front of the lens.

First comparison
First comparison.

Second comparison
Second comparison.

Third comparison
Third comparison.

Fourth comparison
Fourth comparison.

Fifth comparison
Fifth comparison.

If you can see an improvement (or at least a major difference) between the two photos as a colorblind person, I feel confident in recommending you to look into Enchroma glasses further. Obviously, the pictures aren't going to be 100% accurate for a number of reasons (and you should never trust photos anyway - these have undoubtedly been post-processed a bit by my iPhone). But, I can still see a difference with my normal vision, for what that's worth.

In any case, I'm extremely happy with my present (even if it wasn't Earth-shattering). Thanks, everyone!