Study: Caucasian boys most likely to be color blind among preschoolers

April 29, 2014

According to the first major study of color blindness in a multi-ethnic group of preschoolers, which was recently published in Ophthalmology, Caucasian male children have the highest prevalence among 4 major ethnicities, with 1 in 20 testing color vision deficient.

San Francisco, CA-According to the first major study of color blindness in a multi-ethnic group of preschoolers, which was recently published in Ophthalmology, Caucasian male children have the highest prevalence among 4 major ethnicities, with 1 in 20 testing color vision deficient.

Researchers also found that color vision deficiency in boys is lowest in African-Americans, and confirmed that girls have a much lower prevalence of color vision deficiency than boys.

Researchers from the Multi-Ethnic Pediatric Eye Disease Study Group tested 4,005 California preschool children age 3 to 6 in Los Angeles and Riverside counties for color vision deficiency. They found the following prevalence by ethnicity for boys:

• 5.6% of Caucasian boys

• 3.1% of Asian boys

•  2.6% for Hispanic boys

•  1.4% of African-American boys

The prevalence of color vision deficiency in girls measured 0% to 0.5% for all ethnicities, confirming findings in prior studies. However, the numbers were so low overall for girls that researchers say they cannot statistically compare rates among females among the 4 ethnicities studied.

While the researchers found that children at the youngest ages could not accurately complete testing, they say the findings suggest that successful color vision screening can begin at age 4. Many times children with color vision deficiency will perform poorly on tests or assignments that employ color-coded materials, leading color vision deficient children to be inappropriately classified by ability at school, said the study's principal investigator Rohit Varma, MD, chairman of the Department of Ophthalmology at the University of Southern California (USC) Keck School of Medicine and director of the USC Eye Institute.

According to Dr. Varma, children with color vision deficiency can benefit from different kinds of lesson plans or homework to demonstrate their understanding of concepts despite their inability to see colors correctly.