27th August 2021
Some of us see the world in a different light
By Lu Feiran
Wang Hao, 26, enrolled at a driving school with the aim of getting a driver's license. As part of the process, he had to take an eye test. That's where his license hopes abruptly crumbled. The doctor told him he had deuteranopia, commonly known as "green color blindness."
"That was disappointing," he said. "Even though traffic lights appear to me as brown, grayish green and light yellow, I can still tell difference between one light and another."
Wang is not alone in his frustration. An estimated 5-8 percent of men in China and about 1 percent of women suffer from some form of color blindness. Many of them share their distress and experiences on social media.
Fushu Lab, a data journalism workshop at the School of Journalism of Fudan University, trawled thousands of online posts, including major social networking services such as Zhihu, Douban and Baidu Tieba, to form a picture of the lives of people with the deficiency.
Persons with color blindness experience different symptoms, depending on their insensitivities to different wave lengths of light. Those who have problems with green light might see the world in varying shades of blue, yellow and brown. Those with problems of the red spectrum see the world dominated by different shades of green. A smaller number can't process blue light, and even fewer people suffer total color blindness and live in a world that looks like a black-and-white movie.
More men than women suffer color blidness because it's caused by a gene on the X-chromosome. Men have only one X-chromosome, but women have two, which can offset the effect. There is no known cure for the condition.
In China, persons with color blindness are barred from working in dozens of fields, such as chemicals, archeology, the arts and sports. Those with red or green blindness aren't allowed to drive.
According to Fushu Lab, 62 percent of the netizens with color blindness found out about their condition when they took the requisite physical tests before college entrance examinations.
Wang was one of them. At that time, a doctor gave him a book in which dozens of pictures were displayed in small, colorful pieces like a mosaic collage. He was supposed to identify numbers in some of the pictures. He figured out two of them but got confused by the third and fourth.