Reader question: color blindness

This question came in from Annie:

Is there any way to find out if your child is color blind? Everett is now 2. He can count to 10 in Spanish, he knows his shapes, all kinds of things…but he doesn’t know his colors. It’s really bad – he doesn’t know hardly any of them and it seems like that is one of the first things they learn. I don’t know if there is a test for kids his age so we stop pestering him all the time, or if we just have to wait and see.

From what I could find online, most children are tested at 4 years old.  Has anyone had their child tested earlier?

Updated to add: From the comments, Daniel left a link to a very good article he wrote about young children and colorblindness, including when and how to test.  In fact, his whole site is full of useful information on colorblindness.  In particular, he also has a great article on how to talk to your young child about being colorblind.

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11 responses to “Reader question: color blindness

  1. They do have color blind tests for kids but even at two they’re a little tricky. (By the way, my son is 3 and only just now knows his colors!)
    I have done a lot of research on color blindness as my husband is color blind. Color blindness is carried in the X chromosone. It is carried by the mother and she can only carry it if her father is color blind. It sounds complicated! Because my husband is color blind then my son CAN’T be. My daughter however could carry it and pass it on to her sons if she has any. The only way a female can be color blind is if BOTH her parents are.

    So…if YOUR father is color blind that is the only way scientifically possible that your son can be color blind.
    I hope this helped and didn’t confuse you more!

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  2. Annie, most any vision care provider that sees children should have the Color Vision Made Easy test ( On Amazon – http://bit.ly/790bnP ), and as long as the child knows shapes and is willing to point to them, a children as young as two can be screened for color vision problems. Though this often isn’t attempted until 4.

    And while X-link is by far the most common, there are some other, much more rare ans severe forms of color vision problems that have other inheritance patterns, such as autosomal recessive.

    (fixed a typo –Ann)

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  3. Hi Annie,
    I have thought that my girls were color blind at one point, because we would go over the colors a thousand times and they still would not be able to tell me what colors they were. They would say a random color if I asked them what color something was, but if they got it right it was only by chance. And then from one day to the next, it was like a switch was turned on and they got the colors right every time. My third youngest daughter is now 2, and she is going through this stage right now. I can only believe that children have to meet a developmental milestone first before they recognize and identify the names of colors. For some children this may be earlier than for others. My oldest daughter actually did not identify colors until she was almost four, but she had a lot of other issues as well. I would not worry too much about it! Give him sometime and one day, he will surprise you with all the colors he knows! 🙂

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  4. Thank you for all of the information! This is incredibly helpful. We have worked on his colors quite a bit, with no luck. He’ll be 2 1/2 next month, but he just must not be ready to tackle colors like he is other things. Part of my worrying here is that his older sister (Aubrie – wears glasses) picks up everything very quickly & has known her colors since before she was 2. I know they develop very differently esp being a boy & a girl, but sometimes it is hard to not compare. I think we’ll keep working with him and hopefully in a year he’ll know his colors. Thank you again!

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  5. My father is color blind so I knew my boys had a 50/50 chance and I have two nephews who are color blind. Both were 4 or 5 years before it was confirmed and our doctor said the same thing about testing around that age. I was convinced Bennett was color blind at 3 years old. He could match two items of the same color and could name all of the colors but he could not correctly identify which item was which color. He was all over the place, yellow was the only color he could consistently label (and it’s his favorite color still.) I even did some of those online color blindness samples with the numbers in the dot circles and he failed them all miserably.

    However, at about 4 years of age like someone said – it was a sudden switch and he could label every color even in various hues. He’s not color blind, I think it was just a developmental thing that he mixed them all up for awhile.

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  6. thanks for posting such type of article which helps many a people who has problems in their eyes,i have color blindness so m not able to differentiate color between red and green m always confused and m always getting problem in driving.

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  7. my son is turning four in just a couple of weeks. I understand that it is still a little early to worry about color problems, but my dad is colorblind. He can count, say his ABC’s, he is just awful at colors. The teacher is now starting to think that it is a problem as well. The only color he can consistently match (not identify) is yellow. He can pinpoint to yellow cars. How soon is to soon to try and get him tested?

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