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Oct 02 2020

Does Your Pharmacy have a Color Blind Staff Member? Windows 10 Can Help.

The National Eye Institute estimates as many as 32 million Americans are colorblind, with the condition affecting roughly one in eight men and 0.5 percent of the female population. The Institute describes color blindness as "seeing colors differently than most people" and "having difficulty telling the differences between certain colors."

Color blindness is not considered a disability under the Amercians with Disabilities Act (ADA). Rather, the condition is often referred to as a "deficiency." While there is no cure for color blindness, help is available, often through technological innovations.

A noteworthy solution, due to its broad user base, was brought to market in 2017 via an update to Microsoft Windows 10. The updated software included a series of color filters that change the color palette on the screen tp help accommodate users' specific needs. According to Microsoft, users can access six different palette options:

  • Deuteranopia – For red-green color blindness, adds focus on green hues.
  • Protanopia – For red-green color blindness, brightens red hues.
  • Tritanopia – For blue-yellow color blindness, enhances blue hues.
  • Grayscale – Converts colors to black/white/gray shades.
  • Inverted – Converts colors to their color wheel "opposites" (red becomes aqua, blue becomes yellow, etc.)
  • Grayscale Inverted – Like grayscale but reversed, similar to a photo negative.

In addition, Microsoft released an app called "Color Binoculars" to assist color blind individuals. According to Mobihealthnews, the app works by applying different filters to a user's camera lens and is available on the App Store.

Both technology-and-non-technology-based solutions are available. Wearing a colored filter over eyeglasses or a colored contact lens are traditional, long-standing options, while researchers at the University of Washington have been engaged in the development of an injection that could conceivably "cure" color blindness. According to the Wall Street Journal, researchers continue to build on a 2009 breakthrough in which they restored red-green vision in two color blind squirrel monkeys.

Innovations in research, and the availability of new treatments have been gamechangers for the millions of Americans affected by color blindness. In the pharmacy, tools such as the Windows 10 filters can help pharmacists and technicians accurately determine medication colors, or color-coded labels associated with some medications.

While pharmacists who happen to be color blind have been able to thrive in their profession, with long and rewarding careers, the ability to correct their vision is surely welcome news. One color blind technology consultant notes, "...as a person who has moderately severe deuteranopia (red/green color blindness), I am grinning broadly and feeling proud of Microsoft for working hard every year to improve the assistive technologies in Windows."