Color blindness or color vision deficiency is the inability or decreased ability to see color, or perceive color differences, under normal lighting conditions. Color blindness affects a significant percentage of the population. There is no actual blindness but there is a deficiency of color vision. The most usual cause is a fault in the development of one or more sets of retinal cones that perceive color in light and transmit that information to the optic nerve. This type of color blindness is usually a sex-linked condition. The genes that produce photopigments are carried on the X chromosome; if some of these genes are missing or damaged, color blindness will be expressed in males with a higher probability than in females because males only have one X chromosome (in females, a functional gene on only one of the two X chromosomes is sufficient to yield the needed photopigments).
Color blindness can also be produced by physical or chemical damage to the eye, the optic nerve, or parts of the brain. For example, people with achromatopsia suffer from a completely different disorder, but are nevertheless unable to see colors.
The English chemist John Dalton published the first scientific paper on this subject in 1798, "Extraordinary facts relating to the vision of colours", after the realization of his own color blindness. Because of Dalton's work, the general condition has been called daltonism, although in English this term is now used more narrowly for deuteranopia alone.
Color blindness is usually classed as a mild disability, but there are occasional circumstances where it can give an advantage. Some studies conclude that color blind people are better at penetrating certain color camouflages. Such findings may give an evolutionary reason for the high prevalence of red–green color blindness. And there is also a study suggesting that people with some types of color blindness can distinguish colors that people with normal color vision are not able to distinguish.
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