Thursday, January 7, 2016

Several Weeks with EnChroma Glasses


In December 2015, I ordered some EnChroma glasses.  Mine are their indoor lens style with freeform prescription lenses.  You may have seen news stories about EnChroma glasses.  They aim to "correct" color blindness, though that's a bit misleading.  There's no way to correct color blindness and even the term 'correct' is subjective.  We may disagree on what normal color vision is or should be.

Head over to EnChroma's web site for a quick explanation of what they do and then some reaction videos of first time users.

OK, all that aside, what's it like having these glasses?  If you were wondering if there was a WOW moment when I put them on, there wasn't.  So there won't be a reaction video of me putting them on and then looking at a box of assorted LEGO bricks and crying or something like that.  Sorry to let everyone down on that.

EnChroma has an online color vision test that's based around the world famous Ishihara 38 plate test.  EnChroma adjusts what they ask you based on your responses to further refine their analysis of you.  I took the test several times and in all but one instance I was classified as a severe protan with EnChroma warning that the glasses would only have a 30% chance of having any effect on me.

It's worse than that.  The glasses are tinted and make me look like a Visitor ready to meet the Secretary General of the United Nations.  They are only really effective under specific lighting conditions.  They are meant for indoor use, but I probably need more light.

They have taken some time to get used to.  And the frames are sort of crappy.  Maybe at some point my regular optometrist will be able to offer these lenses with frames I buy.


Yes!  And it keeps getting a little better the more I wear them.  Here's a list of things I've noticed, in no particular order:
  1. The first day I wore them I was walking around the house noticing subtle differences in things.  Karen pointed out my shirt and I looked at that and said, "WHOA!  GREEN!"  That's the closest to a wow moment I've had with these glasses.
  2. It's much easier to watch movies and TV on our LCD screens at home.  Everyone is sharper and clearer, which I thought was already the case, but it's even more so with these glasses.
  3. Watching college football is less stressful because the uniforms of each team are different colors.  I usually look for pattern differences in helmet designs or some other insignia on the uniform to distinguish them.  This made watching the Michigan vs. Alabama game with my parents more enjoyable. 
  4. ls(1) coloring is easier to read on my laptop screen.  I liked NetBSD's ls coloring by default, the GNU coloring was all over the place.  But these glasses clean that up.
  5. Barbeque sauce and ketchup are different colors.  I previously relied on viscosity differences to tell them apart.  Barbeque sauce in general is not as viscous as ketchup, btw.  Sitting in little cups at a restaurant, barbeque sauce will tend to level out and ketchup doesn't.
  6. The cafeteria at work has a lot of red.  The serving counters are all red.  Like Red Hat red.  Oh, right.
  7. I noticed the red lights on traffic signals today, around lunch time.  They are bright red.
  8. Oh, and the yellow line on the left side of the road.  That stands out much more.  Previously, it looked sort of like an offbrand post-it note and would register as "solid line".
  9. Cumberland Farms stations around here have a green stripe wrapping their roof top.
  10. The badge readers at the office have an LED that shows red but when you scan your badge it turns to green and beeps.  I've always just tried to open the door when it beeps.  The green light is useful.
So, are there any downsides?  Of course.  Here are some:
  1. It's another pair of glasses.  I have my regular glasses and my prescription sunglasses.  I can't really wear the EnChromas all day because it's dark when I head home and I can't wear these in the dark.  I may be able to use these in place of the sunglasses for at least driving.
  2. Detail on the LCD TVs is harder to pick up.  I can see small artifacts on shows and movies, which is likely due to having more rods than cones.  With the EnChroma glasses on, those don't stand out as clearly, but I can take them off and see the artifacts more.
That's it so far.  Probably another update after I've had them for longer.


Karen Poggi said...

This is really interesting! Thanks!

Karen Poggi said...

This is really interesting! Thanks!

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