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Dr. Michelle Calder-Cardwell is the owner and lead optometrist at Urban Optiques Vision & Eyewear in Northville, MI.
Q. My wife is expecting. Is it likely our baby will inherit my color blindness?
A. Often referred to as "color blindness," color vision deficiency is when a person has a hard time distinguishing between colors, typically shades of red, green, blue, or a mix of these colors. The rarest form of color vision deficiency is when you can't see colors at all. Red-green deficiency, the inability to distinguish certain shades of red and green, is the most common type.
A whopping one out of twelve men, and one out of two hundred women are born color blind. Before you get too concerned, you should know that just because you're color vision deficient, doesn't mean your child will be—it depends on the cause of the deficiency and certain genetic factors.
Injuries to the eye, some medications, or eye disease can cause color vision deficiency, but genetics are usually the reason. The culprit is a gene that's located on the sex-linked X chromosomes, which cause the trait to pass from parent to child.
According to the American Optometric Association (AOA), "Early detection of color deficiency is vital since many learning materials rely heavily on color perception or color coding." The AOA recommends a comprehensive optometric examination before your child begins school. Make sure to schedule annual eye exams for your child starting as early as six months of age. Tell your child's eye doctor about your color vision deficiency, so they can perform the appropriate vision tests.