Colorblindness Isn't Black, White Matter Study: Each Person Has Unique Color Spectrum

Article excerpt

For 200 years, scientists have thought they understood why some people are colorblind. But, according to research reported last week, they were wrong.

As early as the late 1700s, experts understood that we really see only the light of three colors - blue, green and red. The brain combines these three primary colors to "see" all the other colors in the spectrum.

Back then, scientists thought there were three eye "molecules" or "membranes" corresponding to these colors.

More recently, eye experts theorized that there were three genes for color vision. If one gene was missing or flawed, the consequence would be some degree of colorblindness.

But research described Friday in the journal Science shows there are at least 10 pigment genes - and maybe many more.

Researchers Maureen and Jay Neitz said Thursday that people had many more genes controlling color vision than previously thought and that the number varied widely from one person to another. The Neitzes are a married pair of researchers at the Eye Institute of the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

The couple studied DNA in blood samples from 27 male volunteers and used an original method to count the genes.

Their discovery suggests that even people with normal color vision actually have a unique range of pigment genes. …