Colorblind Metro Detroiters see shades unlike before
Canton — Imagine watching "Moulin Rouge" and seeing dull browns and grays instead of vibrant reds.
That was the case for Ian Wilson of Whitmore Lake until he tried a pair of specially designed glasses. Now he can't wait to rewatch the movie to see Nicole Kidman's memorable red dress.
Wilson and two other men from Metro Detroit who suffer from color deficiency saw a full spectrum of colors for the first time Friday at the Vision Center in Canton. Wilson, along with Mark Yeager and Tim Masters, tried on EnChroma glasses, created by three National Institutes of Health researchers, to boost color vision.
Wilson, 33, was anxious to try on the glasses and said it would transform his role as a designer and creative director. Wilson also has a love for art and after trying the glasses, he said: "I can't wait to go back to the (Detroit Institute of Arts) with these on."
Three men tested out EnChroma lenses at the Vision Center in Canton, seeing a full spectrum of color for the first time Sarah Rahal, The Detroit News
Yeager remembers being 7 and telling his mother a traffic light had turned white, so she could go. That's when she got him tested and found out he was colorblind.
"I wanted to work as an electrical engineer but it didn't seem possible," said Yeager, 42. "Now, I work in the telecommunications industry and it's becoming extremely difficult with LED's having multiple colors and things keep getting smaller and smaller."
Masters, of Eastpointe, also has difficulty as a colorblind battery engineer and technician. He learned of his deficiency in kindergarten and remembers being embarrassed to ask teachers which colored pencils to use.
"Brown and green are essentially the same color to me, but after trying the glasses, everything is so much more bright and vibrant," said Masters, 30. "Now that I have them on, I can see I'm a little bit sunburned and I can't wait to go back to the Belle Isle Conservatory and see everything again."
The glasses' "wow factor" didn't come until the three men stepped outdoors and saw different shades of green on trees, other plants and traffic lights.
"It's the weirdest feeling ... I can't explain it," said Wilson, who was quick to feel the green grass. "There are red cars just flying by and I can see some of the colors on my tattoos for the first time."
Red-green color-blindness affects 1 in 12 men (8 percent) and 1 in 200 women (0.5 percent), including about 13 million people in the U.S., 300 million worldwide and roughly 425,000 in Michigan, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The Vision Center is the first in Michigan to offer the EnChroma glasses, which cost $350-$420 for nonprescription lenses. Dr. Christine Jack said it took more than two years to get the glasses in-house.
The glasses do not correct color-blindness totally, Jack said, and work for four out of five people with color-blindness.
"We saw a few Facebook videos when the company first launched and it's taken us two years to receive them," Jack said. "We were very happy to be chosen and very excited to see they are working for them."