Living with colour blindness

Around 8% of men and 0.5% of women are affected by the most common form of inherited colour blindness (Source: Eye). The type and severity of colour blindness can vary, and there can be some challenges to being colour blind.

However, most people adapt well to living with the condition, and there are support groups and resources to help you.

On this page

What's it like to be colour blind?

Being colour blind means you see certain colours differently from everyone else, or in very rare cases, you see only in black, grey and white (known as monochromacy).

The most common type of colour blindness is red-green vision deficiency. This means you struggle to tell the difference between shades of red and green. This can affect daily life; for example, you may struggle to see traffic light colours.

There are different levels of colour blindness, from mild to severe. This means many people do not realise they are colour blind until much later in life.

It can sometimes be harder to detect colour blindness in children, as they may not notice any differences in their colour vision themselves. If you are concerned your child may have colour blindness, speak to your optician about a colour test.

Managing your colour blindness

Colour blindness can affect your everyday life, but there are ways to manage the condition and reduce its impact. For example, you can:

  • Label your clothes, coloured pencils or any other objects that you need to choose based on colour.
  • Buy a food thermometer, so you know when food such as meat is cooked, rather than relying on its' colour.
  • Use bright lighting at home to help see colours more clearly.
  • Download an app for when you go clothes shopping. Using an image, these apps can name colours for you, making it easier to choose clothes.
  • Rely on your other senses, for instance, smelling or touching vegetables when shopping.
  • Join a support group to meet other people with a colour vision deficiency to learn their tips and ways of managing.

Can you drive if you are colour blind?

Yes, people who are colour blind can drive. You don't need to notify the DVLA of your condition.

As colour blindness only affects how you see colours, not your vision, you can use other ways of following the rules of the road. You can use the position of the different colours on traffic lights and the shape and pattern of road signs. You can also leave more distance between yourself and the driver in front if you struggle to see red brake lights.

Can you work with colour blindness?

In most job roles, having colour blindness doesn't affect your ability to work. You might want to let your manager and colleagues know if they can make some adjustments, such as changing the colours used in presentations or other materials.

Certain jobs that rely on colour recognition or have a safety element may only be open to people with non-affected vision. These can include being a pilot, train driver, and electrician. If your child has colour blindness, you could talk to them about their career choices early on.


Frequently asked questions

Get in touch

You can contact us to find out about services and support tailored to your individual needs.

Medically reviewed by: The Royal College of Ophthalmologists on 28/07/2022

Edited by: Nick Astbury FRCS FRCOphth FRCP
Clinical Associate Professor

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists champions excellence in the practice of ophthalmology and is the only professional membership body for medically qualified ophthalmologists. The RCOphth is unable to offer direct advice to patients. If you’re concerned about the health of your eyes, you should seek medical advice from your GP, optometrist or ophthalmologist.

For more support...

Information to help you continue developing your independence and ways to enhance your day-to-day life skills.

Find out how technology can help you live independently with sight loss, from specialist assistive technology to apps and Apple accessibility features.

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  • Living with colour blindness