I don’t write about colorblindness in children much, largely because it is not something that can be corrected with glasses or contacts or patches. But it is certainly a component of vision, and a very important one for children (and adults).
Recently, a friend contacted me because his son was recently diagnosed as having moderate-to-severe colorblindness with greens. As he said “he literally couldn’t see the numbers hidden in the Ishahara plates, for many of them. It was both scary and eerily fascinating.” While I don’t have any first-hand experience with color blindness, I certainly can relate to how hard it is to watch your child struggle to see something in a vision test.
What is color blindness or color vision deficiency?
“Color blindness” is actually a misleading term, the more accurate term is “color vision deficiency.” Nearly everyone can distinguish some colors, but people with color vision deficiency have trouble seeing differences between certain shades of colors. The most common types of color vision deficiencies are with shades of reds and greens. People with normal color vision can distinguish more than 100 different colors. Those with strong color vision deficiencies may only be able to distinguish 20 colors.
Color vision deficiency is usually hereditary, though it is sometimes caused by injury. Color vision is encoded on the X chromosome, which means that men are far more likely to have color vision deficiencies than women. About 8% of men and about 0.5% of women have a color vision deficiency. Some people truly are “color blind” in that they cannot see any colors at all. This is called “achromotopsia” and is very rare: it affects around 1 in 30,000 people. Achromotopsia is also associated with poor visual acuity and nystagmus.
What is it like to have color vision deficiency?
This is a short documentary that was put together to explain color vision deficiency to children. It is based on the longer documentary, “No such thing as color.”
What does it mean for my child to have color vision deficiency?
Colblindor has a pretty sweet interview with two boys with color vision deficiency asking about what they see in terms of color. One question was whether they see rainbows, both boys answered yes. As the author states,
even if they really have some problems with colors their life is still very colorful.
Unfortunately, children with color vision deficiencies will often have trouble at school. Many worksheets and exercises are color coded (“color the circle red” or “how many green dots are there?”), and later, charts and graphs used in assignments often have a color component. These can be very difficult and frustrating for children with color vision deficiency. That’s why, if you know that your child has color vision deficiency, it is important that you talk with his or her teachers so they all know about it and can adjust those accordingly. Color deficiency is common enough that statistically, there will be one student with color vision deficiency in each classroom. However, you may still need to advocate for your child and make sure he or she receives the adaptations they need in school.
Should I test my child’s color vision?
Children normally develop full color vision by 6 months, but as most parents will tell you, they won’t know their colors by name until well past that age. At age 2, they should be starting to match colors, around age 3 beginning to name colors, and between 4 and 6, have good color naming skills. Parents of children with strong color vision deficiency often start to notice problems between the ages of 3 and 10. If you’re noticing that your child is consistently confusing colors or naming colors incorrectly, they should be tested before starting Kindergarten.
There are online color vision tests, but you will need to see an eye doctor to diagnose color vision deficiencies accurately.
I relied very heavily on the excellent Colblindor website for this post. Some good articles to start with:
- Is my son colorblind? (this is also applicable to daughters, just boys are much more likely to have color vision deficiencies).
- How to explain color blindness to your little boy
- How to help your color blind kid
- 50 facts about color blindness
- 5 online color blindness tests links and explanations of some of the different types of tests. Note: make an appointment with an eye doctor if you suspect your child has a color vision deficiency.
There are a few books that I found for kids about color vision deficiency. I have not read these books, I welcome any reviews or other recommendations:
- Seeing Color: It’s my rainbow, too - written by Arlene Evans, a school nurse who worked with many kids with color vision deficiency. For ages 9-12 (though one review I read said it would be appropriate for kids as young as 5 or 6). Includes a glossary of key terms.
- All about color blindness: A guide to color vision deficiency for kids - written by Karen Rae Levine, the mother of a boy with color vision deficiency. The book follows the story of Cory, a 4th grader who learns he has color vision deficiency and learns to deal with situations that come about because of it. This one has been awarded the Mom’s Choice Award, Next Generation Indie Book Award, and National Indie Excellence Book Award.
- Erik the Red sees green: A story about color blindness – by Julie Anderson. Erik has troubles in school and at soccer until he discovers that he has color vision deficiency. He and his friends and teachers figure out ways for him to overcome the difficulties. For ages 4-7.
- Just like Grandpa: A story about color vision deficiency – by Elizabeth Murphy-Melas. Ben learns that he has color vision deficiency, just like his grandpa. His grandpa shares guidance and support and ways to adapt.
First, a quick note to say that I have updated the photo galleries with some wonderful new photos of kiddos in glasses and in patches. Thank you to everyone who has shared their photos! They really go a long way to helping other families and young kids in glasses and patches to feel less alone.
‘Tis the season for all sorts of giveaways and contests, it seems. And there’s some really good ones going on right now. Here’s a quick rundown of the ones I know of:
- Share your opinions – be entered to win $50 Amazon card: There is a survey that is looking at ways to improve the glasses-buying experience for parents with young children who need glasses. They are looking for opinions of US parents whose children needed glasses before the age of 8. At the end of the survey, they will do a drawing and one participant will receive a $50 Amazon card. US only. UPDATE: Survey is still open. Survey closes Dec. 1, 2013. Take the survey here.
Make a funny face with fruits and vegetables and glasses – win 1 of 12 pairs of Zoobug frames: Zoobug glasses has a super-cute funny face contest, with 12 winners, each receiving a pair of Zoobug frames! Just dress up a fruit or vegetable like a face wearing glasses and send the photo in to their facebook page, or tweet it to @Zoobuglondon. Contest is open worldwide, and ends December 9, 2013. More details here.
- Closed. Facebook giveaway with a whole lot of prizes: Eye Candy by Gwen is hosting a huge holiday giveaway on her facebook page. The prizes include books, accessories, patches, and even eye glasses frames. Giveaway ends November 25, 2013. Contest is open worldwide, but shipping may be required for international winners in some cases. More details here.
- Enter your child’s school library to win a copy of Jacob’s Eye Patch: Patch Pals and author Beth Kobliner Shaw are working together to give away 100 copies to elementary school libraries. US only. The last 25 copies will be given away on November 26, 2013. More details here.
- Of course, there’s the patching giveaway going on here, with patches, books and a bear wearing an eye patch. The giveaway is open world wide and ends November 25. Take a look!
And please, if you haven’t looked at the Glasses board book Kickstarter, take a look. We are getting very close to our goal, but still need a bit more to be fully funded. The Kickstarter ends November 26.
Updated: Thank you everyone who entered! Congratulations to Sheri and Fran, whose names were chosen as winners.
Patching is never much fun, but sometimes a little bit can go a long way to making it a bit better. We have a great giveaway with items from Kids’ Bright Eyes and Patch Land Adventures to help with patching time!
The two winners will receive a beautiful patch from Kids Bright Eyes, a Patch Land Adventure book by Carmen Swick and a sweet stuffed bear wearing an eye patch.
Kids Bright Eyes has a great selection of hand-made eye patches that go over glasses. They come in fun, bright colors with very charming, very cute decorations. The company is a husband and wife team that formed when their daughter was born with PHPV, causing loss of vision in one eye. She has worn glasses since 2 months old and will for the rest of her life in order to protect her good eye. They have been inspired by their experiences to offer fun patches and frames at affordable prices. We offer a variety of designs and colors to help kids feel confident and proud.
- Two winners will be chosen at random on Monday, November 25 at 9:00 pm.
- Each winner will receive a Kids Bright Eyes eye patch of their choice, a Patch Land Adventures book of their choice, and a plush bear!
- The giveaway is open to anyone.
To Enter the Giveaway
- Send a photo of your child wearing an eye patch to be added to our patching gallery (email to firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Take a look at the Glasses! A board book for young ones in glasses Kickstarter and share the campaign – it can be through Twitter, Facebook, Google+, on your blog, or by talking with your child’s eye care provider or glasses shop, or some other way of getting the word out. I’d love it if you backed, too, but you don’t need to be a backer to get the extra entry.
- Like Kids Bright Eyes on Facebook
- Like Patch Land Adventures on Facebook
Today, November 17, is World Prematurity Day (yes, the byline for this blog says Nov. 18, but it’s still the 17th where I am). It’s a day to focus attention on the global problem of premature births. Many of the readers of this site and our facebook group have children who were born premature. To them, it will not come as a surprise that prematurity is closely linked with vision problems
Retinopathy of Prematurity
The vision problem that most people associate with prematurity is Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP). ROP occurs in around half of all infants who weigh less than 2.75 pounds (1250 grams) at birth and are born before 31 weeks gestation. It is thought that the eye finishes developing in the last weeks of pregnancy, and that in babies born prematurely, the edge of the retina does not have adequate blood vessels, and so abnormal blood vessels form, which can lead to retinal scarring and detachment. The good news is that 90% of infants born with ROP have a mild case which improves on its own and leaves no permanent damage. For more severe cases, treatment involves laser or cryotherapy to remove the affected outer edges of the retina.
Other vision issues
While ROP is the most well known vision issue associated with prematurity, children born preterm are at higher risk of many other vision issues as well. An article in Nature notes that studies looking at children aged 7-10 years old, found that those born prematurely had a much higher incidence of many vision issues, including:
- anisometropia (large difference in prescription between the two eyes)
National Eye Institute. Facts about Retinopathy of Prematurity. 2009. http://www.nei.nih.gov/health/rop/rop.asp
O’Connor, AR, Wilson, CM, Fielder, AR. Ophthalmological problems associated with preterm birth. Eye. 2007. Vol. 21, 1254-1260. http://www.nature.com/eye/journal/v21/n10/full/6702838a.html
The Kickstarter for the Glasses! board book is still running. There are only 9 days left, and we’re almost two-thirds of the way there!
I have heard so often from so many of you that seeing pictures of other children in glasses has helped so much. For kids, seeing other kids in glasses helps them feel less alone and get excited about their own glasses. And for parents, it can help make the idea of your child in glasses less scary and unknown. I know when I learned that Zoe needed glasses, I couldn’t think of a single child under the age of 5 in glasses, so it was really hard to imagine what we were getting in to.
There are just so few books out there that are aimed at the very youngest of kids in glasses, and so little awareness of the importance of good vision in young children. This book project addresses that directly. But I need your help to make this happen. We need to raise the full goal of $6,000 by November 26. If that goal isn’t reached, then none of the funding comes through (that’s the way Kickstarter works, and it’s a good protection for backers – if a project can’t raise enough money to continue, then you don’t have to worry about losing money).
Many people have said that they wish this book had existed when their child was little – heck, it’s the book that I wish existed when Zoe first got glasses. Well, even if your child is past the board book stage, you can still back the project and have a copy sent to a childcare provider, or preschool, or library of your choice. I’ll include a resource page for parents and caregivers. That way, the book will be there when another family needs it!
Help make this happen!
There’s a lot of recent updates that I haven’t done a good job of keeping up with, so here goes:
- The 2014 date for the Great Glasses Play Day has been announced. We had a lot of requests to move away from the August date due to weather issues in a lot of locations. After running a poll about the timing, the winner was early May. So….
I hope we’ll see you there!!!
- “Glasses” board book – we’re now 40% funded through Kickstarter and have 16 days to go. The campaign ends November 26. You can learn more about the book at the website GlassesBoardBook.com.
- There is a huge Ultimate Holiday Giveaway for Kids Who Patch or Wear Glasses going on at Eye Power Kid’s Wear. This is seriously one of the best giveaways I’ve seen, with a whole lot of award packages to fit everyone’s situation. It is open to everyone, but international winners will need to pay shipping. The giveaway ends in 3 days, so you should jump over there quick
In an earlier post, I mentioned that I had a book that I was working on a board book and would be launching a Kickstarter soon. Well the Kickstarter has launched! And I’d love your support.
Glasses: a board book
The book is titled Glasses. It will be a board book that features photos of young children, 3 and under who wear glasses. It will have a simple poem that accompanies the pictures that celebrates glasses and the kids that wear them.
Some glasses are red,
Some glasses are blue.
I think your glasses look great on you!
The book is inspired by the many messages I’d heard from parents whose children asked to look at our photo gallery to see other kids their age in glasses. And it’s inspired by Zoe, who even at seven asks about why there aren’t more kids in glasses. I want the youngest of kids who wear glasses to not feel alone, and to see and hear about why their glasses are lovely and how they help them to see!
I am not one who has always wanted to write a children’s book. I’m a librarian, I’d prefer to find books for people, not write them. But this idea for a book is one that has stuck with me for years and tugged on me to get it made. Recently, as I’ve watched other authors write their books, I’ve been inspired by their willingness to make it happen, and to get their books out there for other kids. So I decided to take the plunge and give this a shot.
So what is Kickstarter, anyway?
Kickstarter, for those that haven’t encountered it before, is a way to raise money for creative projects that will result in some kind of product. Basically, the creator (that’s me!) explains the project and the funding they will need to do that project. And anyone can pledge any amount, and the creator sets reward levels. So for instance, if you pledge $17, you will get a copy of the book when it’s completed. Now, if the full funding isn’t reached by a certain deadline (Nov. 26, in my case), then no one gets any money, and nothing is lost. You will only get charged if the project is fully funded. I have backed a few Kickstarters – my husband has backed quite a few – we’ve been very happy with the projects we’ve backed so far.
The funding for Glasses will help cover the costs of the photo shoot for the book, as well as the production and printing costs of the first run of the book.
Please take a look at the Kickstarter and consider backing it. And please, please, share this with anyone else that might be interested!