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10 Things Only The Colorblind Would Understand

10 Things Only The Colorblind Would Understand

Most people dismiss colorblind people as having a minor problem with red and green. As we shall see below, color vision deficiency (CVD) is not as simple as that! About 8% of males (one in twelve men) have this condition while females suffer more rarely from it (5%). While it is normally an inherited condition, many people may suffer from it later on in life when it is caused by other illnesses such as diabetes or as a side effect of medication. Here are 10 things that the colorblind will understand only too well. It is much more than an eye health problem.

1. People think their world is only in black and white.

When people see the world in black and white, this is not the usual color blindness at all. It is a condition known as achromatopsia and sufferers see the world in different shades of grey. It is rather like viewing the world on an old black and white TV. Fortunately, this condition is very rare and about 1 in 33,000 people are affected.

2. People think the colorblind mix up red and green.

It would be great if it were that simple. They think that they just get their reds and greens confused. But, if you look at the actual cause of color blindness, it tells a different story. The eye has certain nerve cells, called cones, in the retina which can differentiate color. When this is defective, the eye fails to pick up the red elements so the colors of red and green appear to be the same color, a shade of light brown, in many cases. Another example of this red/green color blindness is that there is difficulty in seeing the red element in purple so they will have problems in distinguishing blue and purple.

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3. People think it is a minor problem.

Many people dismiss color blindness as a minor disability. But the reality of life tells a different story. Colorblind people have difficulty when they do not realize their child may be getting sunburnt! They may have problems when gardening or when they have to prepare food, not to mention when buying clothes. Laying the table may become problematic when they select the ketchup instead of the chocolate sauce for the dessert. Glasses which can help block glare can usually help a little in better distinction of colors.

4. Colorblind children have problems with food.

Imagine telling a colorblind child to eat up his spinach. The problem is that it appears to him as a rather unattractive brown color which will remind him of something else which is totally disgusting. Similar problems arise when they have to distinguish between an unripe green banana and a nice yellow ripe one.

5. People think that colorblind people can adjust easily.

In many cases, colorblind people adjust and they can tell the difference between red and green traffic lights by their position. But, in many cases, their choice of career can be limited as they will have problems with colors. Becoming a fashion designer, graphic designer or an electrician are usually impossible for people with this condition.

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6. Effects on the business and the economy are rarely taken into account.

It is only recently that the idea of changing colors in reports, graphs, presentations, brochures, colored house plans and maps to become more color-blind friendly has begun to make an impact. The truth is that all this colorful information may not be fully accessible for a small minority, around 10%. If the reds and greens are seen as brown, it may be impossible to fully understand a report, graph or a PowerPoint presentation.

7. Food marketing needs to take color blindness more seriously.

We seem to live in a red/green world. From traffic lights to the green economy and food packaging these two colors are everywhere! Let us take an example from supermarkets which use a red/green traffic light system which warn people of levels of fat, salt and sugar. A quick glance to spot the red colors which are unhealthy will do for most of the population. But for those who are suffering from CDV, then they have to read the actually detailed info on the label which is usually far too small anyway. This will affect about 5% of customers.

8. LED lights are infuriating.

Most warning systems use red and green to signal that a device is on standby. The red/green system is also used to indicate whether a battery needs charging. For the colorblind, this can be frustrating to say the least because they never know what is really happening. It is always the same old color!

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9. Working in a safe environment is important.

Most employers have never even bothered to reflect on whether their premises are actually safe for the colorblind. Are the warning signs for health and safety using color as the main component? If they are, then this may lead to accidents. Health and safety authorities in the UK warn that under sodium lighting, red is not easily read by people with normal vision.

10. Using a computer with colorblindness.

British Telecom have issued a short guide for web designers to help make their pages more color-blind friendly. Keeping in mind such things as luminosity with background will make the text more readable. This is an excellent initiative because most web designers have never even taken this into consideration. It is high time they did!

Are you or a loved one color blind? How do you cope? Let us know in the comments.

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Featured photo credit: Love on the rocks(Color version)/Anne Worner via flickr.com

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Robert Locke

Freelance writer

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Last Updated on June 15, 2018

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

What Really Works: How to Relieve Lower Back Pain Effectively

Eight out of ten adults experience lower back pain once in their lifetime. I am one of those people and I’m definitely not looking forward to my participation award. I know how it feels like to step out of bed and barely being able to put on your socks. Having lower back pain sucks. But 9 out of 10 patients that suffer from lower back pain don’t even know the primary cause of it.

Video Summary

Back Pain? Blame Our Evolution

Once upon a time in our fairly recent past, our ancestors felt the urgency to stand up and leave our quadruped neighbors behind. Habitual bipedalism, fancy word for regularly walking on two legs, came with a lot of advantages. With two rear limbs instead of four, we were able to more efficiently use our hands and create tools with them.

Sadly, life on two legs also brought along its disadvantages. Our spine had four supporting pillars previously, but now it only got two. The back is therefore naturally one of the weak links of our human anatomy. Our spine needs constant support from its supporting muscles to minimize the load on the spine. With no muscle support (tested on dead bodies) the back can only bear loads up to 5 pounds without collapsing [reference Panjabi 1989]. With well-developed torso muscles, the spine can take loads up to 2000 pounds. That’s a 400-fold increase.

Most people that come to me with a history of a herniated disc (that’s when the discs between the vertebral bodies are fully collapsed, really severe incident), tell me the ‘story of the pencil’. The injury with the following severe pain usually gets triggered by picking up a small, everyday object. Such as a pencil. Not as you may think by trying to lift 100 pounds – no, but by a simple thing – such as a pencil.

This tells us that damage in your back adds up over time, it’s a so called cumulative trauma disorder. Meaning back pain is a result of your daily habits.

Sitting Is the New Smoking

Whenever I sit for too long, my back hurts. In fact, 54% of Americans who experience lower back pain spend the majority of their workday sitting. But isn’t sitting something that should reduce the stress of your back? No, just the opposite.

The joints between the bones of the spine are not directly linked to the blood supply. These joints instead get nourished through a process called diffusion. Diffusion works because molecules (such as oxygen, important for cells) are constantly moving and try to get as much space for themselves as they can. A key element for diffusion therefore is a pressure difference. In the image below the left room contains more moving molecules than the right, that’s why the molecules from the left are moving to the right. This way nutrition gets transformed into the joints, whereas toxins are transported out of the joints.

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Sitting puts a lot of pressure on your spinal chord. The diffusion process therefore can’t function as efficiently. Nutrition and toxins can’t be properly transported, the joints get damaged.

    Sit Properly

    If sitting can play such a huge part in the creation of your lower back pain, how do you sit properly then?

    Is it better to sit with a straight back or should you rather lay back in your chair? Can I cross my legs when I’m sitting or should I have a symmetrical position with my feet? These are questions that I hear on a daily basis. The answer might shock you – according to recent science – all of them are right. The best sitting position is an ever-changing one. An ever-changing position minimizes the pressure on certain points of your spine and spreads it on the whole part.

      Credit: StayWow

      Stand Up More

      Even better than a sitting position is a stand up position. Standing dramatically reduces the pressure on your spine. If you’re forced to work on a desk the whole day though, you have two options.

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      Take breaks every hour of about 2-3 minutes.

      Set an alarm on your phone that goes off every hour! In that time you stand up and reach to the ceiling, on your toe tips with fully extended arms. You’re inhaling during the whole process. You do this activity for 20 seconds. Afterwards you’re walking through the office for the next 2 minutes. You might grab a healthy snack or some water in that time. The exercise relieves the pressure on your spine, while the walking makes sure that the joints on your spine are properly used.

      Or get a standing desk.

      One of the best companies on the market for Standing Desks, according to my research, is Autonomous. Autonomous offers a rather cheap Standing Desk, with the ability to change the height. Which means you can start the day standing and switch to sitting if you’re tired.

      Exercise for Lower Back Pain

      Sitting is an immobile position. Your joints are made for movement and therefore need movement to function properly. If humans are moving, all moving parts: e.g. the joints, bones and muscles get strengthened. If you’re in a rested position for too long, your tissues start to deteriorate. You have to get the right amount of activity in.

      But not too much activity. There’s a chance that going to the gym may even increase your risk of lower back pain. I know plenty of friends with chiseled bodies that suffer from pain in the spine regularly. Huge muscles do not prevent you from back pain. In your training you should focus on building up the muscles that are stabilizing your back and relieve pressure. Squats with 400 pounds don’t do the trick.

      The more weight you carry around, the more weight your spinal chord has to bear on a regular basis. That’s one of the reasons why huge, muscular guys can suffer from back pain too. One of the most important goals of your exercise regimen should therefore be weight loss.

      Here are some important tips for you to consider when starting an exercise regimen:

      Make sure you implement cardiovascular training in your workout routine.

      This will not only help you lose weight, it will also make sure that your arteries, which flow to the tissue next to your spinal discs, are free of placque and can therefore transport nutrients properly.

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      Important: If you have rather strong back pain, maybe even an herniated disc, don’t start running on a threadmill. Running is an high-impact exercise. Which means there are continuous, reocurring high pressure points on your spine. Your endurance training should therefore either be fast-paced walking or a training on the elliptical trainer for the beginning, because both have little to no stressful impact on your backbone.

      Focus on developing your whole core if you want to minimize your pain.

      There are some people that do hundreds of sit ups a day. While sit ups are a good exercise for your abdomen, it also puts pressure on your spine due to the bending movement. A sixpack workout routine is one-sided. Your abs may become overdeveloped in comparison to your back muscles. You’ve created an imbalance. A great way to train your abdominal muscles and back muscles simultaneously, is holding the plank position.

      Stretch only if you have tight muscles.

      I remember stretching every morning after I woke up. I took 10 minutes out of my day to just work on my flexibility and prevent injuries. Little did I know that I was actually promoting an injury, by doing so.

      Contrary to common belief, stretching is only partially beneficial to treating lower back pain. Stretching makes sense if tight muscles (such as the hamstrings) are forcing you to constantly bend your back. Stretching to treat pain doesn’t make sense if you’re already on a good level of flexibility. Hyper-mobility may even enforce back pain.

      If you found out that you had tight muscles that you need to stretch, try to stretch them at least three times a week. Don’t stretch your muscles right after you wake up in the morning. This is because your spinal discs soak themselves up in fluid over the nighttime. Every bending and excessive loads on your spine is much worse in that soaked-up state. Postpone your stretching regime to two-to three hours after you’ve woken up.

      Where to Start

      The key to improving your habits is awareness. Try to get aware of your back while you’re sitting down, laying down or lifting an object next time. This awareness of your body is called proprioception. For example, you have to be aware whether your back is bended or straight in this very second. Trust me, it is harder than you might think. You may need to ask a friend for the first few tries. But the change that this awareness can make in your back pain is absolutely fascinating. This consciousness of your body is one of the most important things in your recovery or prevention.

      Here are a few behavioural tactics that you need to be considering:

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      If you’re leaning forward more than 30 degrees with your upper body, support your spine with your arms.

      Ever tried to show a colleague of yours a complex issue and found yourself awkwardly leaning forward on their desk, pointing with your fingers to his paper? If that ever happens again, make sure you’re using the not-pointing arm to support yourself on the desk.

      Keep a straight back.

      Be it while exercising, stretching or standing. If you’re bending your back you’re putting stress on small areas of your spinal chord. A straight back redistributes the force to a bigger area. You’re minimizing the pressure. Remember this whenever you’re at the gym and reracking your weights, focus on having a neutral spine.

      Put symmetrical loads on your spine.

      I used to play the trumpet when I was a child. The instrument is pretty heavy. The trumpet gets transported in a big, metallic suitcase – with no wheels. Being the nature of suitcases, you only carry it with one arm, on one side of your body. This forced me to constantly lean on the other side with my upper body, while transporting the instrument from A to B. Not really the healthiest activity for your spine as you can imagine.

      If you have to carry heavy objects, carry them with both arms. Put the object in the middle of your body and keep it as close to your mass of gravity as you can. If this is not possible, try to carry the same amount on the left side than you do on the right side. This puts the stress vertically on a fully extended spine. The load is much better bearable for your spine.

      Stay Away From the Back Pain League

      Our world is getting more sedentary. We will continue to develop faster transportation, more comfortable houses and easier lives. While our technological progress definitely has its amazing benefits, it sadly has its downsides too. The danger for back pain will continue to rise on our ever-increasing motionless planet. It’s time to raise awareness.

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