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New eyeglasses help colorblind kids

EnChroma colorblindness glasses are now available for kids.

EnChroma colorblindness glasses are now available for kids. Credit: iStock

Q. A company named EnChroma sells eyeglasses to help colorblind adults see colors more clearly and is now marketing the product to kids. What do ophthalmologists think?

A. Parental Guidance asked Steven Rubin, co-chief of pediatric ophthalmology at North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System, to look at EnChroma's website. "I give them credit," Rubin says. "They really thought about the basic cause of the problem."

The most common color deficiency is caused by the eye's confusion of red and green; the colors bleed into each other, appearing gray, he says. "What these glasses are designed to do is filter out the overlapping wavelengths," Rubin says. "Whether the product delivers on the strategy it's supposed to, I can't begin to say."

David Pogue, who has written about technology for The New York Times and is colorblind, wrote in a Times blog in 2013 that he was "floored" when he put the glasses on. They had been marketed only to adults because they were made from glass substrate; now they are polycarbonate (plastic) lenses, which are safer for children, says Andy Schmeder, vice president of technology for Berkeley, California-based EnChroma.

The glasses resemble sunglasses and are primarily used outdoors, Schmeder says. One pair costs $325 and includes a 30-day, risk-free trial. They can include prescriptions. Even EnChroma says the glasses aren't a cure. Rubin calls them "a step in the right direction."

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