Vision issues in children can be difficult to diagnose since they may not have the capacity to verbalize a problem or know that they do not see normally. Colorblindness can be even more tricky to discover and can lead to misdiagnosis of learning delays or disorders. A children’s eye care specialist can identify colorblindness, but knowing some facts and symptoms may help you act more quickly.

Color vision is possible due to three “cones” in the nerve structure of the eye. Colored light strikes the appropriate red, blue, or green cone, deactivates the cones not in use, and transmits color information to the brain. For the colorblind, these cones may not have developed or have become compromised.

Most commonly occurring is red-green colorblindness, in which those two cones are unavailable and the person cannot process red and green.  Objects that are red or green may appear to be all the same shade. Very rarely complete colorblindness occurs, and the patient sees in black and white. Colorblindness is highly hereditary so if other family members are colorblind, chances are good that your child is too. Likelihood of colorblindness is also higher in boys than girls.

Symptoms of Colorblindness in Children

  • The child struggles with learning colors or calls two different colors the same name.
  • When coloring pictures, the child chooses odd colors for typical objects. For example, using a green crayon to shade in a person’s face could be an indicator of colorblindness.
  • If the child selects an outfit to wear, the colors may clash horribly.
  • The child cannot see text or shapes that are drawn against a certain color background, such as a green chalkboard.
  • The child withdraws from activities that involve color identification, including any sport that has colored boundary lines drawn on the ground.

In small children, it can be difficult to identify colorblindness since they are still learning colors and numbers. To mitigate this, children’s eye care providers use a test employing animal shapes instead of numbers to discover if a child sees colors normally. A field of colored dots is the background for shapes in varying colors. If the child cannot pick out the shapes, this indicates a color vision issue.

Colorblindness in children can result in bullying, difficulty learning, and socialization issues. If you suspect that your child is colorblind or having any vision issues, consult a children’s eye care specialist promptly.