Friday, June 27, 2008

Color Blind: A Cure?

Shortly after Tall Husband and I were married, he discovered that I was "color blind." I bought a new suit bag and announced that it was my favorite gray. He informed me that it was green and that I had a color vision problem. He could have more easily convinced me that I was Chinese.

Later, at a bookstore that specialized in medical books and items, Tall Husband asked to see a set of Ishihara cards (a standardized color test). When the saleslady was busy with another customer, he asked me to tell him what I saw in the pattern on each card. Afterwards, he informed me that I indeed had a "color vision deficiency" and was
green weak (deuteranomaly). I argued with him, saying that women are not color blind, that he was. He informed me that when he worked for Kodak, as a job prerequisite, his color vision was tested and found to be perfect. Also, he had been a faculty member at the department of ophthalmology at a prestigious medical school.

Flash forward several years: My grandson was tested by his French pediatrician and found to have a magnesium deficiency that caused leg pain and muscle cramps. His doctor prescribed magnesium. As I also had the same symptoms, Tall Husband went straight to the drug store for magnesium. After perusing the labels, he decided on a mixture of zinc, calcium and magnesium. Having taken the supplement for about two or three months, I began to notice that people were repainting things green. First there was the perfectly fine black fence at a nearby school that had been repainted a dark green. There was a house on the corner that had been a nice dove gray that was repainted an ugly green. Then one day I was applying eyeliner when I noticed that my gray eyes had changed color. Stunned, I ran to Tall Husband and demanded to know what had happened to my eyes. He asked what color I thought my eyes had been and what color they appeared to be now. "Well they were gray and now they are a greenish blue." He informed me that they had always been a
greenish blue. He immediately Googled color vision. Finding a reliable on-line Ishihara color test he sat me in front of his computer. I passed the Ishihara.

"This cannot be," he said, "There is no cure for color vision deficiencies." He asked me about other vision changes. I told him how my world was looking like a garish cartoon. How people were repainting things and that it was not psychologically pleasant. In fact it made me nauseous. I wished that I could have my old color vision back.

The next week I was at the Department of Ophthalmology, at Baylor College of Medicine, taking the Farnsworth-Munsell 100 hue test (for color vision) which found me to have normal color vision. One would think that those docs who examined me would jump all over such a discovery: a cure for a type of color vision deficiency. But no. Tall Husband is not an M.D. so they took the
not invented here attitude. To think that a simple, inexpensive supplement (we think it was the zinc) from Walgreen's could cure a color vision deficiency is not dramatic or earth shattering.

I found that I had some strange colors of green in my wardrobe; that U.S. dollars are green (so that's why they are called
green backs.); that there are various shades of green (really green) in a forest. My brain has finally settled down and though I still see all the colors, things seem visually normal to me now.

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