Being a painter with color blindness can be a frustrating handicap to overcome, but there may now be a solution. Specialized glasses originally designed to help physicians and nurses better spot veins beneath the skin or see bruises on a patient’s body have also been found to expand the color range of those afflicted with color blindness, reports Discover.
The so-called Oxy-Iso glasses, which go by the brand name O2Amp, dramatically enhance retinal color perception. Though they don't reveal the world exactly as it would look to an individual with normal vision, the glasses nevertheless allow those with color blindness to distinguish the parts of the color spectrum previously invisible to them.
"When I first heard about them, I envisioned wearing them and being instantly cured," said London-based artist Adam Fenton, who has learned to paint both with and without the glasses in spite of his color blindness. "It was nothing like that, but other interesting things happened."
The glasses highlight reddish and orangish colors in a way that makes the world look surreal. Warm colors appear to glow, almost like they're radioactive. This is part of why they're useful for picking out veins and bruises under the skin, but one can imagine how this might assist artists as well.
The glasses aren't perfect — they have difficulty distinguishing between light and dark tones, for instance — but they do allow color-blind artists to see the differences between colors such as burnt sienna and raw umber for the first time.
Painting with the glasses requires a new kind of visual learning and interpretation, but the extra range can be a boon. Fenton told Discover that wearing the Oxy-Iso glasses didn’t necessarily help him with painting or achieving what he wanted with his particular artistic goals, but they did allow him access to color variations which could be incorporated into his work in new ways.
"Color blindness is a condition that is diagnosable and recognized," Fenton said. "But I think every person or every artist has their own way of seeing and they can translate that into their work."
If you're among the one in eight men or one in 200 women afflicted with color blindness, or just want to give the glasses a try yourself, you can purchase them at Amazon.
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