'I had no idea how colorful the world is': Special filters in glasses help tackle colorblindness

'When I wear the glasses outside, all the colors are extremely vibrant and saturated,' a study participant said

Special filters in glasses could help the colorblind see colors better, according to new research from the UC Davis Eye Center and France’s INSERM Stem Cell and Brain Research Institute.

The special patented glasses have been engineered with specially designed “spectral notch filters” that enhance color vision for people with the most common types of red-green color vision deficiency or anomalous trichromacy, the researchers say. The filters increase the separation between color channels.

Researchers studied the impact of the EnChroma glasses on colorblind participants in the study. “Over two weeks, [the participants] kept a diary and were re-tested on days 2, 4 and 11 but without wearing the glasses,” UC Davis Health explains, in a statement. “The researchers found that wearing the filter glasses increased responses to chromatic contrast response in individuals with red-green color blindness. It is unclear how long the improvement lasts without wearing the filters, but the evidence shows that the effect persists for some time.”

The research is published in the journal Current Biology.

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“We found that sustained use over two weeks not only led to increased chromatic contrast response, but, importantly, these improvements persisted when tested without the filters, thereby demonstrating an adaptive visual response,” said John S. Werner, distinguished professor of ophthalmology at UC Davis Health, in a statement. Werner added that the effect cannot be achieved with broad-band filters sold as aids to the colorblind.

Study participant Alex Zbylut wearing glasses designed to address color blindness.

Study participant Alex Zbylut wearing glasses designed to address color blindness. (UC Davis Health)

“When I wear the glasses outside, all the colors are extremely vibrant and saturated, and I can look at trees and clearly tell that each tree has a slightly different shade of green compared to the rest," said Alex Zbylut, one of the colorblind participants in the study, in the statement.  "I had no idea how colorful the world is and feel these glasses can help colorblind people better navigate color and appreciate the world."

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Zbylut got the placebo glasses first and then tried the special filter version.

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Last year a video of a severely colorblind student getting to see colors for the first time went viral.

Fox News’ Gerren Keith Gaynor contributed to this article.

Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers