EnChroma’s Color Correcting Glasses

“I’m kinda shaking. ” he says as his voice trembles.  As he rests the glasses in front of his eyes, a bewildered look takes over his face and the only word that comes from his lips for good minute is, “Oh.”

As most individuals who put on these specially made glasses, this guy here is no different, amazed by the simple color of purple, the outlines of leaves, even the subtle pink hue which cover his fingertips, things people with normal vision without a doubt take for granted.

But how do the glasses work? Why is it that the majority of people in these videos have similar reactions to the same things?

The idea of color correcting glasses first came from Don McPherson, who earned his PhD at Alfred University in glass science. He had been working on a special coating for lenses created with rare earth iron that absorbed a large amount of light emitted during laser surgeries and also increased the saturation of incoming light waves to easily differentiate blood and tissue.

One day after playing Frisbee in a park his friend, Michael Angell (who is colorblind) asked to try them on, he came to a startling realization that he could see some orange traffic cones in the distance. This later became the spark that led to the founding of EnChroma Labs in 2010 and the release of their first pair in December 2012.

In order to understand why these glasses work, an understanding of the nature of colorblindness must come first. Human eyes have 3 types of cones in the retina that are able to detect red, green, and blue. Colorblindness occurs when one or more of these types of cones malfunctions or overlaps with another. The most common type of color deficiency is red-green colorblindness which affects 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women.

In the case of red-green colorblindness, EnChroma’s lenses increase the saturation of the light waves within the red to green spectrum which in turn allows the weaker receptors to send a stronger, corrected signal to the brain, eventually producing a color-corrected image. This would explain the similar reactions to the aforementioned leaves, pink fingers and purple, all of which emit light waves with frequencies in the range EnChroma’s glasses are able to amplify.

The price of these glasses currently ranges from $349 to $429, a hefty price tag for a not-so-ordinary pair of shades, but a steal for those looking forward to seeing life in a new way.