When Can I Find Out If My Son Is Color Blind?

Updated on September 08, 2010
H.C. asks from Colorado Springs, CO
12 answers

My son just turned 3 a week ago. He is great with counting to ten,etc. He is doing great with everything he is supposed to be doing at this age. Although, when it comes to colors, he just doesn't know. I go over them and over them and when I ask him what the color is he gets this confused look on his face. He just really doesn't know. My husband's side of the family has serious eye problems, such as blindness so I am alittle scared that he is color blind. He goes in for his 3 years well check on the 1st of October and I will talk to the Doctor about this. I just don't know how they will find out at this age, can they do it by just looking into their eyes and doing tests? Or wait until he is able to tell them? Sorry, hope these aren't rediculous questions, I just don't know. But I wanted to ask you ladies first and see what you thought. Is, or did your 3 year old know his colors by this age? Thanks for reading.

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answers from Denver on

The pediatrician can help you any time.

My husband is red-green color blind (there are different types of color blindness -- it doesn't necessarily mean everything is in black and white). Other than it being an issue in elementary school -- art class was difficult, it hasn't impacted his life. He's a successful engineer. And, I get to pick all the colors in the house! :) If we have a boy, I expect he'll probably also be color blind. It's hereditary.

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answers from Salt Lake City on

You'd be surprised at how many 3 year olds don't know their colors! (Or shapes or numbers by sigh). Sometimes it's just a developmental thing, and even if he knows some he may not know all. The name of the color is very arbitrary and unlike shapes and numbers, there are fewer cues to help remember (there's nothing about the word red that clue us to the color if we don't know it.

Also, red-green color blindness (the most common) is an X-linked recessive hereditary trait, meaning that it is carried on the X chromosome. Boys are XY, girls XX so if your husband isn't colorblind and you have no family history of colorblindness it's very unlikely your son will have it. Colorblindness has to do with the rods and cones that absorb different colors of light, and less to do with the shape of the lense or thickness of the cornea.

Definitely mention it to the doctor, though. I think they have tests that can identify it without a child having to know the colors (it's a red picture or number in a field of green, for example). It doesn't hurt to get peace of mind. But I wouldn't worry too much at this point.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Although, I think typically children learn their colors prior to numbers, letters, etc. my DS (now 4) was the opposite. He knew how to count to 15, knew all his letters (even many letter sounds), multiple shapes, and even the names of the colors, but did not know how to distinguish the colors until around age 3 or even after (seems like about a year ago, and he just turned 4).

I too was worried about color-blindness and did all the research, and then suddenly he just knew his colors... Just another possibility.


answers from Pocatello on

Any eye dr can give thsi test. If he knows numbers and letters they can. Because the tests are a book or pictures, with numbers and letters in one color(in dots) and the rest in another color. If he can't see colors he would not be able to see the numbers or letters. Call the ped and ask who he needs to see. No reasont to wait.



answers from Portland on

I am having the same problem with my 4 year old. So I started asking my family about colorblindness, I found out that it is genetic and is passed through the male line. I have called the eye doctor and found out that they have a very simple test that they can give to the child, so that we will know before the end of the visit. I am sorry that I dont have a lot more answers for you, but I thought that this may help you some way. Just call any eye doctor and they will answer all your questions that you may have about colorblindness.



answers from Colorado Springs on

The thing to do is to call your doctor's office. They won't mind if you ask the question now just to reassure yourself. You don't want to pass worry on to your little boy.

From what little I know, color blindness and sight blindness are two completely different things. I've known several men (it's mostly men who have it) over the years who are color-blind; I imagine it has affected their career choices - not of them mixes paint for a living - but other than that and the fact that their wives double-check their clothing choices every day, they do well. It's apparently one of those things you can adapt to.

Since there's a history of vision problems in your husband's family, you doctor will surely be careful to examine your little guy's sight as well. Be sure he knows of your concerns. They're legitimate. Moms need all the help and information they can get!



answers from Boise on

Doctors these days can do amazing things. My son is not color blind, but he does have eye issues. He was sent to a pediatric eye specialist when he was 1 and just after he turned 2 he had eye surgery. Then unfortunately, he had to have eye surgery again in August. The eye doctors know a lot and also how to tell with little kids. My sons' eye doctor even sees babies that are a few months old. If you are concerned, and his pediatrician is concerned then his doctor will probably set you up with an eye specialist. If your doctor is not concerned then I probably wouldn't worry about it. However, with your husband's side of the family history, the doctor might send you just in case.



answers from Cheyenne on


Okay, I have to answer...there were lots of almost correct scientific answers in there...but let me help you out a bit as this is a definite issue I face in my life and have done a LOT of research into this.

First, scientifically colorblindness comes throught the mom's genes, not dad (it is X-linked)...so using me as an example, because my dad is colorblind, each of my boys have a 50/50 chance of being colorblind (I have no symptoms if anyone cares...it's just linked to one of my 2 X genes that I can contribute to my boys). The only way to determine whether they are colorblind or not is to wait until they know their colors and then I will take them to the pediatric eye dr and they have different tests (from animals to mazes/swiggly lines of different colors that the kids have to trace with their fingers...) and depending on if they can trace things/see things, it will determine if they are colorblind or not. There are no tests other than that to run...

The only other issue is if a color blind man marries a woman with a colorblind father...then there is still a 50/50 chance for their sons to be colorblind, but also a 50/50 chance for their girls to be colorblind as well (and if the girls aren't, they will still hold the colorblind gene to pass on as in the first example)...but since colorblind women are rare (I personally know 1), you can see this is not a common thing. My sons (if they turn out colorblind) will just have to be aware of this...

As far as problems and issues once colorblindness is diagnosed, it is not a big deal at all (other than they will miss out on all the vibrance/variety of colors in the world...a little sad, I admit)! I spent lots of years with my dad picking out ties that matched and making sure his shoes and socks were the same color before he went to work, but it wasn't a big deal...in fact, we had lots of fun at his expense as kids, trying to tell him that grass was blue and the such...he's very well-tempered! Anyway, he said school was a little difficult until they realized he was colorblind (was doing a color by number project and his was quite colorful, just the wrong colors) but after that, people began working more with him...making sure he was helped out if it was a coloring project, making sure color crayons had the wrapper with the names on them and the such...

He is a MD and even the medical school was rather accomodating on tests where it said to "identify the blue object" and my dad would have to have the blue object pointed out... The only issue he faces now really is when people don't realize or remember he is colorblind, and describe their house as the "blue house" or whatever or if he travels to those towns that have the street lights on thier side instead of up and down or if my mom is not home and he gets teased by co-workers for coming to work with one blue shoe and one black shoe...not big things in the whole scope of things...

I am fully prepared to help my kiddos out if either of my 2 boys turn out colorblind...including developing strategies for organizing their closets so they can dress themselves...but I'm not overly worried about it. I'm just glad my dad and mom can help me out with ideas too if they are diagnosed as colorblind.

Colorblindness is part of them, not overly medical and certainly not a problem...so don't fret. As far as other eye issues for both your kids, I would make sure to get them checked regularly by an eye dr who works lots with kids starting now (some need their medical MD's permission to see them to get a referral from their primary dr when you see him) as you already know there is a strong family history, but don't worry about his colors...either way! If you need more support or have other questions about colorblindness, please write me!

S., 26, mom of 2 boys, ages 4 weeks and 22 months, both with the possibility of being colorblind!



answers from Salt Lake City on

My son has red/green color blindness. I started to get suspicious when he was about 3 years old because he had a bright red jacket with shapes in different colors on it. He knew his shapes, and I would play a game where I would point to a shape and he'd tell me what it was. He could identify the yellow rectangle and the blue circle, but when I would point to the green triangle, he'd get confused and say he didn't see it (the green on the red looked the same to him). So when he had his first eye check the eye Dr. tested him and diagnosed him. It is pretty mild and hasn't affected him negatively at all. So I guess if you wanted to test your theory you could get a piece of red paper and put different color shapes on top of it (if he knows his shapes, of course), then see if he can identify them.



answers from Salt Lake City on

Talk to the doctor for sure. For testing him at home, if you feel like he knows any of his colors put the crayons down in front of him and ask him to hand you the different colors. When you ask him to tell your the color he has to come up with the name. When you ask him to hand you the color yellow like the sun he has less to process and will be more likely to answer the different colors right if it is in his abilities.



answers from Provo on

Look up color blind tests on the web. I think there are some that have shapes that you can use with younger kids. There are degrees of colorblindness. I have known people who just have the red/green color blindness where they can't tell one from the other and I know someone who is completely color blind (no color at all, just shades of grey). The interesting thing is that the completely colorblind guy is a fantastic photographer (color or black&white). I don't believe the doctor can tell by looking in his eyes -- it's more of a he tells you kind of thing (hence the tests online or maybe at the library). I know at my sons 4 year old check up they showed him color cards with numbers on them to check. Good luck!



answers from Colorado Springs on

Both of my boys had that problem. They would get red & blue confused, or red & green (I those were it, they were the 2 colorblind colors). It could be just confusion. They can't do the color tests probably at his age, because he's just learning them, but I think that's the only way they can tell colorblindness-by the colored dots book at the eye doc. See if they can have him trace the number he sees, or the squiggly line in the pattern maybe? I'd not stress it but I would get his eyes checked because he's old enough.

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