THE question may seem absurd, even silly, and for sure, we hear a resounding ear-splitting chorus of Yes! But then again, probably, not everybody might agree especially the 5-6 percent males and the 0.5 percent females in the entire world who cannot identify colors or appreciate the different shades and hues of a particular color.

For a starter, in the retina of the eyes of humans are receptors- specialized cells which are sensitive and therefore stimulated by specific stimulus; the rods are activated during dawn or night, i.e., darkness while the cones are active during daylight and in color vision.

Every healthy normal human being has three cones- for colors red, green and blue, but as stated earlier, a few of us are not blessed with the all of the three.

Color blindness is an inherited disorder, transmitted as a sex-linked recessive trait, that is, the gene which carries the trait of colorblindness is in the X chromosome of the mother- who is called asymptomatic carrier, meaning, she has the gene but she has no problems with color identification. The gene is passed on to her son(s) who sadly, will have some form of color blindness the most common of which is deuteranopsia ( green blindness) followed by protanopsia (red blindness.) Your columnist had asked his colleagues in ophthalmology and neurology who were unanimous in saying that strictly speaking, there is no blue blindness (tritanopsia or cyanopsia). In fact, people afflicted with "blue blindness" may still identify blue color but cannot appreciate the nuances of the color such as navy blue, sky blue, light blue and so forth. On the other extreme is the so-called monochromatic color blindness, which afflicts one in a million , which for all the bright colors of the spectrum and the glorious burst of autumn reds, yellows, orange and browns, he/she only sees gray.

While it is true that color blindness is inherited, it may also be acquired. Among the efficacious drugs to treat tuberculosis, ethambutol has been identified that may affect the cranial nerve II, the optic nerve which is an direct extension of the retina, which carries visual impulses- things seen by the eyes converted into nerve impulses- to the so-called Visual Center, the calcarine gyrus at the back of our head, where what we saw earlier has now meaning, we know now what we saw - a person, male, tall, color of his shirt and is he running?

For most of us, color blindness is not a serious disorder. However some professions dictate that normal color perception is high in their short list of qualification and therefore, when you take that airplane ride, rest assured that the pilot had taken the basic Ishihara color test and other more sophisticated color vision acuity test. In the military corps of most countries, their men and women must have perfect color vision especially those assigned to the Air Force. Especially those who hold professional driver’s licenses should have healthy normal eyes that would make them stop at red traffic light and step on the accelerator when he color turns green.

Otherwise, for us ordinary mortals who are not in the above-mentioned professions, if we are color blind, then probably life goes on as usual like the rest of the world. And mind you, we may not appreciate the reds and greens of Christmas, but as Filipinos, who cares? A lechon is a lechon in any color! Cheers!