Color Blind: Which Are Your Blind Colors?

Here is an interesting definition of blind colors: “Colors that are not or not completely recognized by a gray-level scanner.” When I look at my personal color blindness this fits quite well. Compared to people with normal vision I sometimes really think that my eyes are some type of advanced gray-level scanners—but not more.

What I am looking for are the colors we colorblind people have problems to see or distinguish.

color confusion protan deutan tritan
red/orange/yellow/green X X
brown/green X X
Threshold green to white X X
Threshold red to white X X
blue-green/grey/red-purple X
green/grey/blue-purple X
red/black X
green/black X
violet/yellow-green X
red/red-purple X
dark blue/black X
yellow/white X

This first list of colors which are confused by color deficient people is taken from the book Diagnosis of Defective Colour Vision by Jennifer Birch. It is important to know, that these colors are only mixed if there exists no luminance contrast.

From my perspective as a strongly red-blind (protanopia) guy I would say the above list is a quite good image of my color perception. They do also fit with the colors along the so called confusion lines of the corresponding type of color blindness.

I would like to add my personal list of color blind colors which I often can not distinguish. And I also would like to add some examples to them, so somebody with normal vision might be able to imagine a little bit how it feels to be colorblind.

Protan Confusion Colors

dark red/black: If I get an email with words highlighted in red, I can’t see them.
grass green/orange: I couldn’t spot an orange laying in my lawn.
leaf green/red: No red blossoms in trees and no red apples in trees.
bright green/yellow: I can’t see if a banana is ripe or not.
indian summer colors: It’s colorful, but I have no chance to name the colors.
dark blue/violet: I’ll never know what the difference is.
cyan/gray: All shades of blue-green look truly colorless to me.
brown/green/red: Please, don’t talk about red animals in the forest.

I suppose there are many more shades and colors I can’t really see. But this is a list of colors which I often come across and have big problems to identify and classify.

So what are your colors of confusion, problem colors, color blind colors? It would be very interesting to hear also from you which colors cause you the biggest problems.

18 responses on “Color Blind: Which Are Your Blind Colors?

  1. Martin

    I have the same problems as you. Youyr list could be my life!!!

    When somebody ask me “what color is this? ” mome of my favorite true answers are : “pink/grey/light green” or “blue/violet/mauve” or “Forest green/Brown/Red”.

    The example of the orange in the grass was one of my favorite example to try to explain how I see before finding your colorblindness simulator.

    I now have way to name color, so I can fool people trying to “mock” me (in a friendly way). If somebody has “blue” pants or shirt. The pants can’t be brown, so they must be green. Men with “pink/gray/green” shirt are wearing green shirt most of the time. ect.

    At work I told everybody to stop using red to highlight changes. They are now using blue and Yellow (kind of them).

    While driving, I have trouble seeing red sign but my worst thing is single round flashing red/yellow light. The yellow sould be a lozange and the red a square (At least here in Province of quebec), but some city don’t respect that. So comming to a flshing light I put my emergency flasher and slow downs until I can see both light (The red one is darker)

  2. Richard Healy

    Dark red/black:
    When I was training for my teaching certificate, I told the lecturers I was colourblind could they please not highlight the text of slides with red, if they wanted me to see them. In common with every teachers I’ve ever had, they promptly forgot and the red highlights continued. I tended to do better if the slides were coloured: the drop in contrast made it easier to spot the difference (but still not the colour) Black text on a white background with red highlights is impossible.

    Beetroot, which allegedly is a purple red I’m pretty sure is dipped in jet black squid ink.

    Grass green/orange:
    I’ll ‘loose’ orange things in grass. Frisbees, balls etc. It’s not like it’s the same colour I just can’t tell them apart.
    Snooker is another one. Green felt tables with red, brown and green balls. They are identical. I frequently play fouls when I play snooker.

    I asked someone: the brown is at the top 3rd row in. Green is bottom right. One above the green is Pink. Which is as close to Grey as makes no odds.

    leaf green/red:
    I once shared a conversation with my (now ex) fiancée about this when we were in a garden centre just before Christmas.

    Her: ‘look at the red on those Poinsettias over there.’

    Me: ‘where?’

    Her: ‘There!’

    Me: ‘hmm?’

    Her: ‘over THERE.’ (pointing)

    Me: ‘which one?’

    Her: ‘the red and green ones’

    Me: ‘oh is that red?’


    bright green/yellow:
    I used to draw cartoons on my computer. The colour I thought was sand was yellow, the vast desert vistas and dunes I thought I was drawing to everyone else looked like electric emerald hills of Oz.

    Indian summer colours / Autumn:
    “It’s colourful, but I have no chance to name the colours.”
    To which I want to add nothing. I think rainbows and autumn and art is wonderful, but just don’t ask me to name the colours. I’ll be guessing. (and I’m pretty good at guessing, but it is never anything other than a guess.)

    Dark blue/violet
    Indistinguishable. I also want to add….

    Light blue and Purple.
    I always get blues and purples (and some pinks) mixed up. The red element just confounds me utterly.

    Grey/ Blue-Green/ Pink.
    These three can be interchangeable. (see the ‘pink’ in snooker) I usually rely on context.

    Brown / Green / Red:
    Food and cooking: I sometimes worry that my tomato soup is green. I know it isn’t and it tastes of tomato. But it helps sometimes if I close my eyes. I know tea is supposed to be brown but sometimes it too seems green. I’ll put in extra milk to dilute the colour. I tend to over-cook (read: carbonise) meat especially mince beef or sausages when I’m cooking. I can’t spot the transition from raw to cooked, so just keep going till I’m sure.

    I’m pretty sure I bleed brown and not red.

    And the filter-tips on cigarettes are green. I don’t smoke but when I was at school we did a lot of ‘smoking is bad for your posters’, it was at some point in my early teens when it was pointed out to me that of the two colours required to colour in a cigarette (the other being white) that I was doing it wrong.

    Green and white
    One and only one instance: traffic lights.
    It’s like someone replaced the go signal with normal light bulb. (a slightly grubby one, mind, but green it is not.)

    For that matter the other two traffic signals red and amber are distinct but by brightness not colour, they are incidentally the same colour as sodium street lights and brake lights on cars a sort of mid-orange yellow.

  3. Charlotte Williams

    I am mildly tritan color blind. I can not see some yellows and greens, and I get confused at violet/yellow/green. I like to paint and draw, and use colors that I can see. I used to think orange was yellow, but one of my art teachers patiently helped me to see some yellows. I am almost 60, but my colorblind problem was discovered in high school drivers ed when waiting for the light to change, it never turned “green”.

  4. Jim Hart

    Finally! A site I can relate to. When girls used to ask me what color their eyes were (to see if I was paying attention), I always guessed wrong. Now, I just say “dark”.

    My color-blindness has been described to me as “red-blue” and “green-yellow”. It is also different in each eye. The left eye has more green-yellow.

  5. Guy

    Daniel fluck,

    This is an awsome test!! Thanks for putting it up. This is the first time I have taken such a test and really appreciate it.

    I however *REALLY* wanted to suggest that in the instructions you also add the comments that for one to take the test, for each step one should attempt to MOVE the *SLIDER* and try to update the color of left box until it matches exactly with the color of the right box and then once a match is found, click on match found button. If even after moving the slider, the color of left box never matches the color of the right box, then select No match found button. Continue doing this until the test ends.

    I have to state the instructions were a bit vague, you simply state ‘try to match the color’ without stating exactly how and the important slider is not even mentioned in the instructions. Many people (like myself) would have simply clicked no matches found without even using the slider on first try and that maybe the reason for some of the incorrect result.


  6. Betsy

    I believe this to be odd, I don’t find myself to be colorblind, I just see green as yellow and yellow as green… I dont get the grass mixed up with orange or anything of the sort.. can someone please explain to me why this is? I am super confused about it… also my science teacher said only MALES could be colorblind and not females, is this true? I really appreciate all of the help.

  7. Justine

    I constantly disagree with my brother as to what is dark blue and what is dark purple (indigo) which is what led me onto this site actually after such a disagreement tonight! I can see the difference between blue and purple when looking at a computer simulated rainbow for example (they normally use a mid-colour purple).. but where there is a colour gradient that changes from blue to purple I will constantly disagree with others as to what is blue and what is purple.

    I will see dark blue whereas they will see purple.

    However I can see purple as well!

    Occasionally a light purple and pink I will also get mixed up as well.

    But in saying this it doesn’t affect my life at all.. just cause the occasional insignificant disagreement. I can see red and green clearly.

    I did a test online (uploading a photo) and the weak blue view and normal view looked nearly the same except what looked like a yellow lemon in the normal view photo looked more orange in the weak blue view. This is probably normal? The other colours in the weak blue (reds, skin colour etc) looked exactly the same as the normal view.

    The full red colour blind and full green colour blind views both looked like different shades of green – skin colour was green in both of these! That blew me away. It’s really eye-opening to see this because my ex is colourblind too (he tells me red, green and purple colourblind), and one of my best assets ;) are my (light) green eyes.

    I was a bit sad when one day I asked him what colour he thought my eyes were (it only occurred to me a few months in as he hadn’t mentioned anything about them .. whereas I am occasionally stopped by strangers because of my eyes) and he said brown or olive green :( Not sad that he is colourblind, just that he couldn’t appreciate the colour … but of course I know there is nothing he could do about that. I hope that doesn’t sound selfish, but I am glad to be able to try and understand what it is like from a colour blind person’s point of view as well.

    Thanks for letting me ramble.. I am not sure who out of my brother or myself are colour blind :) I see dark blue (close to a navy blue) but others see purple! Frustrating! :)

  8. Richard Healy

    Hi Justine – I’m Richard from up at comment 2.

    I found your comment interesting. As colorblindness is inherited on the x-chromosome, I thin if my genetics is correct for you to be colourblind would mean that both your parents would have to be. Unusual therefore, but possibly not unheard of, if your brother was not also, as both parents could donate either X but if both were carriers, he would inherit the trait.

    If hues identified by others as purple to you regularly appear as blue, it is quite likely that some kind of protan (long wavelength – red) colourvision disorder might be present, as the mechanism for that kind of confusion would be the purple object reflecting red and blue light (absorbing the other frequencies) but if you are insensitive to red, that leave only the blue light so you will perceive the purple as blue.

    It maybe at a guess some kind of red-weakness (protanomlay) as oppose what I have a protanopia (red insensitivity) if you can perceive *some* purples but not all.

    Keep exploring the site – Dan has done a wonderful job here. You’ll find a host of articles and some great tools explaining how colourblindness works.

  9. Jordan

    Actually Richard and Justine, both parents don’t have to be colorblind for a female to be colorblind. The mom has to be at least a carrier and the father has to be colorblind.

    Why is it that I’m the only one here that gets blue/purple mixed up? Pastels are the worst, same with really dark colors. If it’s bold and bright enough I can see the difference between blue and purple. Sometimes light pinks are frustrating also, periwinkle, lavender, light blue, “teal”, it’s all the same to me. Okay that was an exaggeration but you get the gist of it.
    Also I see red, green, and yellow just fine. I would say all the colors I get mixed up I’d interpret easiest as different shades of blue.
    Nobody knew for 15 years of my life that I was colorblind, not even the eye doctor. It’s because most of the time people pointed out purple, and then I’d see this variation of blue and think alright that’s purple. I did think it was strange they were being so “picky” but now I get it =D

  10. Clayton

    Jordan, almost every colorblind individual gets blue and purple mixed up. Especially me.

    I’ve also mixed up orange and green, yellow and lime green, dark red and brown, dark green/medium green and brown, dark brown and black, light purple and pink, sometimes light blue and pink, blue-green and grey (i don’t see a difference in those colors at all), I also get traffic light green and white mixed up and have had difficulty with gold and light orange.

  11. Richard Healy

    @ Clayton

    It’s such a relief to have someone else confirm the traffic light experience

    Top: Dark Yellow (dimmer)

    Middle Yellow (normal)

    Bottom Dirty White (unclean bulb)

    I try saying the green looks white and I get odd looks from people. ;-)

  12. John

    My major “confusions” are:

    Blue-Green. Some colors seem like one or the other to me, and apparently some are this non-descript blueish grey I call “gunmetal”. That’s a rare color I’m told but lots of things I see are “gunmetal” to me. Primary green or primary blue are very distinct though.

    Pink-Purple. Just can’t tell em apart. Sometimes maybe not some shades or red either. Not sure.

    Pastels: If I color is very light I probably won’t see it.

    Yellow: If you write with yellow marker on white paper I can vaguely tell something is there but I can’t read it. I think I confuse very bright yellow lights with light green. Maybe not.

    I can easily pass Ishihara tests – but the blue/green/grey plates are pretty hard to read. I do make them out correctly though.

    If I had to guess I’d say I’m tritan/tetartan – but I really don’t know.

  13. Lauren

    I’m trying to figure out if I am colorblind.. I have always mixed up colors, art class in high school was difficult for me as I love to paint.

    Now I work at a drycleaner and I have to identify pieces of clothing and note their colors. This can take some time and sometimes I ask someone else what color they think it is..

    I get all dark colors confused. If I have a pair of dark pants, I usually cannot tell if they are green, black, blue, gray, or purple. I usually just list them as black.
    Does anyone else experience this?

  14. Sharon Woods

    My father was red-green color blind. I’m not, but I might have trouble with dark navy blue and / or black (we’ve got this jacket in question you see…). I’m normal in my red-green color perception.

    My father compensated by becoming a classical pianist, where he could get away with shades of black, white and grey in his wardrobe which were stylish to all! ;) This makes me wonder if he chose piano as his instrument of choice for the black and white keys! :)

    At home he wore blue jumpers. Just blue. And traffic lights were exactly as described here! :) Thanks for sharing your view of the world, it brought back some very fond memories! :)

    I showed him a crayon picture as a preschooler and was baffled when he told me he liked my brown leaves.

  15. Sharon Woods

    In fact it explains the funky wall color in my parents’ bedroom which was a dull sort of government green,but to his eyes must have looked blue! :)

  16. adam s

    iam not colour blind. but when the sun (and only the sun) hits my eyes at a certain angle i see a red filter over anything that is black. i can still see the black beneath but the red is a thin transparent layer over the black; causing a dual colour. i have emailed the american optometric ascociation about this.