Simply put, yes, color blindness is a hereditary condition. The genetics of exactly how heritable color blindness moves through families, however, can be quite complex. In addition, not all cases of color blindness are based on genetics; some color vision defects occur as a result of retinal damage, brain trauma and/or vitamin deficiency.
Most commonly, color blindness is inherited as a recessive trait on the X chromosome. This is known in genetics as X-linked recessive inheritance. As a result, the condition tends to affect males more often than females (8% male, 0.5% female). Males inherit only one X chromosome, meaning that even though the trait is recessive, there is no other X chromosome to present a dominant trait of normal color vision. Most female children, on the other hand, tend to become what are called “carriers,” individuals who carry the recessive version of the gene (color blindness) but also carry the dominant version (normal color vision), leading to the expression of the dominant trait. Of course, not all color blind individuals are males—this is just a simplified example.
The severity and type of color blindness varies widely, ranging from total color blindness and red-green deficiency to blue-yellow deficiency. Within these types, there are also different subtypes and levels of severity.
Do you often find yourself in minor arguments with family and friends about the color of objects? If so, you may be suffering from a type of color blindness. For a professional diagnosis, contact Eye Michigan to be tested. Your eye doctor will be able to help you determine the type of colorblindness you possess (if any) as well as its severity.