Vivid Color For The Color Blind

Aug 8, 2016

A partnership with Over the Rhine's Frameri is helping the color blind see the world in a whole new light.

EnChroma lenses were originally developed to protect the eyes of surgeons from laser light. But by accident the inventor discovered they allowed people affected by red-green color blindness to see vivid color. Since then the glasses have become a hit.

Frameri manager Halie Schottelkotte sees these kinds of reactions all the time. When people come in for a fitting she takes them on a tour of Washington Park and shows off the flowers and tile mosaics. "They can peek over and under to do a comparison and then we talk. We take a lot of time at traffic lights, where the green appears to be white."

Cincinnati professional guitarist Lance Martin is color blind. For a long time he saw a very generic form of color until friends at Frameri set up an interactive experience for him in one of Cincinnati's brewery tunnels.

You can imagine his reaction. "It was completely dark and I got to try them on for the very first time with my guitar actually hooked up to a light system. So depending on what chords I played on the guitar, they would actually generate the lights to change color and then I could experience the glasses for the first time."

Martin saw hues of purple, blue, green and orange for the first time. For people who are color blind like Martin, their red and green photopigments have more overlap than normal, making them unable to see certain colors.

  • The lenses are layered and there is a multi-notch filter embedded into the lens.
  • It blocks parts of the visible light spectrum, clearly creating a divide in that spectral overlap.

EnChroma block parts of the visible light spectrum with a multi-notch filter embedded int he lens.
Credit EnChroma

Frameri's Sam Pellerito likes the EnChroma lenses so much he wears them to see more vivid color even though he's not color blind.

It appears EnChroma has a sizeable potential market. One in eight Caucasian men and one in 200 women in America are color deficient.