By Oluwatomike Adeboyejo

Students from this university attempted to make their mark in medicine by alleviating the challenges faced by people who are colorblind.

“We are pretty far from finding the solution to color blindness, but each experiment gets us a little closer to the solution,” said Michaela Taylor, a senior psychology and biology major.

Taylor and her overseer Daniel Escobar-Camacho, a Ph.D. candidate, are conducting research on the development of color vision among Melanochromis Bentos fish to learn which genetic factors control colorblindness in humans.

“Once you understand the genes, you can develop more efficient and effective medicine to combat it … the way [Melanochromis Bentos fish] vision works is really similar to the way that human vision works,” Taylor said. “So if we can discover the genes in the fish [that control color vision], it is likely that those will be the same genes or very similar genes that are in humans that control color vision.”

Taylor and Camacho’s experiment focuses on understanding which genetic location on the DNA strand of a fish is responsible for controlling fish vision.

“If the experiment is successful, scientists will be able to combat different genetic diseases that cause people to be colorblind,” Taylor said. “The amount of children who suffer from colorblindness can one day decrease significantly.”

Today, over a million people suffer from color blindness, which is the inability to distinguish between colors, according to colourblindawareness.org.  Colorblindness is a condition that can be often inherited and can be caused by different diseases and medications.

Dan Schlueter, a teacher at Grace Brethren Christian School, believes society often overlooks those who suffer from colorblindness because of the lack of assistance they are given.

“After teaching in the classroom for 32 years, I can’t figure out why these publishers over the years never have adapted their illustrations in biology books and maps in geography books to actually give a code or color letter or something just stamped on the illustration,” Schlueter said. “Therefore, a colorblind teacher does not have to ask the class is this green or brown, people?”

Schlueter has red green deficiency— the most common form of  color blindness — and says as he is constantly forced to “adapt” by naming objects and landmarks when teaching because of his color blindness. His disability makes it difficult to differentiate between between reds, greens, browns and oranges. People who suffer from this often have difficulty seeing things such as traffic lights.

“When it comes to adaptation, I believe most people that have color blindness make adaptations by simply referring to things as being dark or light as opposed to naming the actual color,” Schlueter said.

People who suffer from color blindness are limited to a number of careers because of their disability.

“Colorblindness is not discussed very often because it is not a fatal disease or not one that attacks people’s lives that makes it unlivable,” Taylor said. “However, this topic still needs to be studied because it is a problem that affects so many people in many profound ways.”

Featured Photo Credit: Courtesy of WikiCommons.

Oluwatomike Adeboyejo is a junior journalism major and can be reached at tm.adeboyejo@gmail.com.

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