One in twelve men are colorblind. One in two-hundred women are. I am not. My seven-year-old son, Cade, is. My wife and I slowly discovered his struggles with seeing color as we have been teaching him over the years. When he was three, he often struggled with accurately naming the correct color of toy letters. Kids are all different, so we chalked it up to him being different from our other two boys and wanted to give it time to improve.
It became more obvious he didn’t see things quite the same way as the rest of us when he was asked to pick up Legos and often failed at putting them in the right bins. Coaches at soccer were confused when he would help pick up green cones at the end of practice. He plopped them in with the yellow cones. Sometimes Cade would confuse certain teams while watching sports. Time to get his eyes checked. We took Enchroma’s online test and also had it verified by a doctor. Verdict: He has mild-protanopia (Click here for more info on protanopia). Put simply, he can have trouble distinguishing reds and greens. In his case particularly greens, but certain shades of red don’t look so great either.
Now what? According to Enchroma, color blindness makes life more difficult for about 350,000,000 people worldwide. Naturally it limits some career choices, and possibly even his driving (think stop lights). With 90% of color-blind people saying it affects them at work, I want to make sure my son has the best opportunities going forward. Enchroma sees the impact this issue has on the world, and they want to help.
As a skeptic, I am hesitant to believe the stories I see online, but the fine folks at the company were willing to send me a few pairs for my son to test. They even sent a pair for my neighbor who happens to have a different form of the issue. In this review, I highlight the style, fit and overall impact of the glasses on both my son and neighbor. My son and I tested the: Cx1 DT Indoor glasses (Skypark) and Cx3 Sun Outdoor glasses (Colby). My neighbor tests the Cx3 Sun Outdoor (Kittredge) for moderate deutan color blindness.
Style and Fit
Each pair of glasses has its own unique style. The Skypark indoor frames look great, and I argue they may look nicer and make more sense for a child than an adult. Enchroma describes them as having a “slight 80’s throwback”, and I agree. I initially worry they are going to be too small for him, but they fit well and have room for growth (thank goodness). The Colby outdoor frames look even better. I think they seem more durable and feel like a higher quality than the indoor frames.
My neighbor thinks the indoor frames look good on Cade, but I can tell he hopes his pair will be different. The same style certainly isn’t something he will enjoy as an adult. Not to worry though, he (and his wife) are pleasantly surprised that the Kittredge outdoor frames look and feel great.
Ultimately, the style doesn’t matter. What matters is if they work. It’s just nice to know that Enchroma offers a significant variety of options that don’t broadcast to the world that someone is colorblind. Outdoor glasses truly resemble ordinary sunglasses. All pairs are lightweight and durable. No one would know they help individuals see color unless they were told.
Inside the box Enchroma prepares us for what to expect when Cade first tries his glasses on. He may experience an impact immediately, or it may take him awhile. We set up a spectrum of colors for him to enjoy with a variety of balloons. He slips them on, and he remains calm, cool, and collected. I find myself wondering if his reservations mean they don’t work.
A few minutes go by, and suddenly he starts darting around the house. He has to see everything in this new world he is discovering. Soon after, we watch a movie, and I can’t help but smile from ear-to-ear when I hear him saying “whoa!” and “wow!” throughout the film. It is equal parts heartbreaking and thrilling for this dad to hear. As I put him to bed that night, I remembered something. Enchroma mentioned I should download an app that will help me to get a picture of what Cade sees versus what a normal person sees. A few weeks prior to receiving the glasses, I tried that app, and this is what happened.
One toy Cade fell in love with just before Christmas was a small, hot pink, toy couch that he found his elves on one morning. For some reason, he just loved taking those elves and that couch everywhere with him. I thought it was strange, because Cade wants nothing to do with anything “pink”. I took a picture of it with the aforementioned app, and here is an idea of what Cade probably sees compared to those of us who see the full spectrum of colors:
This is assuming a 78% impact for protanopia. It could look slightly better or worse to him. Yeah – it’s kind of a nasty beige/gray color. I decided to show him the couch again with his glasses on. This time I video him. I hope the clip gives you an idea of how happy it makes me feel to see his shock and joy.
Patrick (my neighbor) had a similar experience. He is less concerned about the style as much as the effectiveness. He mentions they are quite comfortable, light weight, and stay in place really well. The quality and durability are tops. While wearing them on a walk for the first time, he thought “Wow, I am envious of people who can see color this well all the time!” Now with these glasses, both reds and greens stand out for him. The colors are much brighter and more pronounced than he is used to.
Listen, these glasses work, and they help both Patrick and Cade see more color than ever before. My neighbor loves having them and sees colors he hasn’t been able to in the past. Cade still doesn’t think greens look much different. We will see if this changes with more time or once summer hits. Patrick sees green better than ever before. Are they perfect? It’s hard to say, but I can say they are close to it with dramatic improvement. If you or a loved one aren’t sure whether to give these a shot, the answer should be a resounding yes. It has brought my family so much joy to see the impact they have on those we love.
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