Island of the Colorblind - Neurologist, Dr. Oliver Sachs in the Pacific Islands

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Oliver Sachs is a well-known neurologist who has written many books about various brain and neurological disorders. You may be familiar with his first book, based on his own medical experience as a doctor in AWAKENINGS The book was later made into a movie, with Robin Williams and Robert DeNiro.

Sachs has become quite famous for investigating and writing about unusual patients suffering from rare neurological disorders. Dr. Sachs became interested when he started hearing intriguing reports of an isolated community of islanders born totally colorblind on the tiny Pacific atoll of Pingelap.

While researching color blindness, he made the acquaintance of Knut Nordby, a Norwegian scientist who happened to be totally color-blind. Knut and another scientist agree to travel to Pingelap with Oliver to assist the people, analyze the disease, and search for ways to combat or eliminate the disease. After arriving in Pingelap in 1993, Dr Sachs established a clinic in a one-room dispensary and begins evaluating the Pingalapese natives.

Over 10% of the native Pengalese people are affected by the disorder and about 30% are carriers. This 1 out of 10 ratio is stunning and significant because in the United States, for example, 1 in 33,00 people have the disorder where the retina has no functional cone cells whatsoever. Rod cells, which normally provide peripheral and night vision, are their only source of vision.

Dr. Sachs was of course concerned about the individuals afflicted with achromatopsia…he and his fellow researchers brought hundreds of pairs of sunglasses and visors with them to distribute to the achromatopes. The purpose of these items was to assist the people to function more fully. Generally, people with this disorder, are virtually blind in bright daylight. They stay indoors much of the day and are only comfortable in very dim sunlight. They discovered that the afflicted children played outside or went swimming in the surf at either dusk or dawn.

But he also wanted to study the group, the entire population of achromatopes and document the effects of physical isolation (caused by colorblindness). There are tasks which achromatopes cannot perform safely due to their inability to distinguish colors.

They are further isolated from their fellow islanders because most of those born color-blind never learn to read. They cannot see the teacher's writing on the board. Of course they can't work outdoors in bright light, and often are unable to see fine detail.

Yet Dr. Sachs found that many achromatopes develop acute compensatory memory skills and utilize their remaining sense in heightened and unusual ways. The Pingalapese describe their colorless world in rich terms of pattern and tone, luminance and shadow. In the more shaded jungle where they are comfortable with the light level, they are able to recognize a great variety of plants.

A person with normal sight would be aware of the many shades of green in the foliage. Of course everything they see is gray, but there are many shades of grade, some are brighter or shinier or duller than others. And they are acutely aware of the rich profusion of patterns and textures which can be discerned in leaves and plants, if one is not distracted by the more obvious chroma or colors.

As far as using other senses, consider the simple problem of recognizing whether a piece of tropical fruit is ripe without being able to see its color. They would rely much more heavily than people with normal sight do upon touch or feel and of course upon smell.

What Dr. Sachs focuses on in this book, as in most of his books is the enormous adaptability of human beings, the great variety of compensatory mechanisms we can develop to overcome difficulty….. and the enormous complexity of design of the human brain and nervous system.


Background on Vision: The retina is made up of what are called rods and cones. The rods, located in the peripheral retina, give us our night vision, but can not distinguish color. Cones, located in the center of the retina (called the macula), let us perceive color during daylight conditions. People with normal cones and light sensitive pigments (trichromasy) are able to see all the different colors and subtle mixtures of them by using cones sensitive to one of three wavelengths of light - red, green, and blue.

Many of us tend to think people who are "colorblind" live their lives in stark black and white - like watching a black and white movie or television. This is a very common misconception, because it is extremely rare to be totally colorblind. There are actually many different types and degrees of colorblindness and they are more correctly labeled 'color deficiencies.' Five percent of the men and 0.5% of the women of the world are born colorblind, or more correctly color deficient. Or to put it another way, 1 out of 20 men and 1 out of 200 women has a color deficiency or is totally colorblind.

People with mild color deficiencies (they are called red-weak or green-weak) make up 99% of the individuals in this group. A slight color deficiency is present when one of the three color cones has light sensitive pigments which are coded incorrectly in the person's genes – this is a genetic mutation. A more severe color deficiency exists when two of the cones have light sensitive pigments that are altered.

Genes contain the coding instructions for the pigments present in the cones, and if the coding instructions are wrong, the cones will be sensitive to different wavelengths of light (resulting in a color deficiency). I myself have a mild color deficiency, unless in very bright sunlight, I cannot distinguish between gray, blues with gray or brown undertones, and greens with gray or yellow undertones (result of residual damage post cerebral infarction).

A person who is red-weak sees less “red tone” in any color in terms of its depth of color and its brightness. For example, red, orange, yellow, and yellow-green, all appear more green and paler than when seen by a normal observer. The redness component that a normal observer sees in a violet, lavender, or purple color is so weakened that the color may look like a simple shade of blue. If the differences are slight these individuals may not be aware that their color perception is abnormal. Many go through life with very little difficulty doing tasks that require normal color vision.

However, all three color sensitive cones are defective in Achromatopsia . This total color blindness occurs when two copies of the mutated genes that code for the disease are present. Congenital Achromatopsia is an extremely rare hereditary vision disorder that affects 1 person out of 33,000 in the United States

Congenital Achromatopsia is not progressive nor does it lead to blindness, however, it is characterized by extreme light sensitivity, poor vision, and the complete inability to distinguish colors. Now we go to tropical islands in Oceania.

Pohnpei, which means upon (pohn) a stone altar (pei)" is the name of one of the four states in the Federated States of Micronesia and is situated among the Senyavin Islands which are part of the larger Caroline Islands group. All of these clusters of islands are part of Oceania.

Pohnpei Island is the largest, highest, most populous, and most developed island in the Federated States of Micronesia. The islanders of Pohnpei have a reputation for being extremely hospitable. The island attracts many westerners who come for the beautiful tropical climate and vegetation and for the fishing, snorkeling, and scuba diving.

According to biologists, the island also contains a wealth of biodiversity. Biodiversity can be defined as "the variety of living organisms and the ecological complexes of which they are a part; this includes diversity within species, between species, and of ecosystems." So, biodiversity can refer to the genetic variation within an individual species (this applies to the human disorder Achromotopsia) , the variety of different species in a defined area, and the variety of habitat types within a landscape.

Biological diversity is of fundamental importance to the functioning of all natural, as well as, all human-engineered ecosystems. However, Pohnpei is important because it has a large minority population of Pingelapese who are afflicted with the most extreme form of color blindness, achromatopsia. This genetic disorder is rare, but is more likely to emerge in communities with a limited or restricted gene pools.

Pingelap is a coral atoll approximately 170 miles east of Pohnpei, also part of the Federated States of Micronesia. Pingelap has a land area of (455 acres) at high-tide, and is less than 2.5 miles across at its widest point. The atoll has its own language, Pingelapese, and averages between 250 and 300 inhabitants. An atoll is a coral reef enclosing a lagoon. Atolls consist of layers of coral of reef that form closed shapes, sometimes miles across, around a lagoon that may be 160 ft (50 m) deep or more.

Generally, they develop around the outer edges of a volcano which has risen above sea level. Over time the top or center of the volcano subsides, collapses, and the coral atoll remains. Most of the coral reef of course, is below the water’s surface. In 1775, a catastrophic typhoon, swept across Pingelap, killing 90% of the inhabitants and leaving approximately 20 people alive.

Scholars think that one of the survivors, the ruler at that time, was a carrier for achromatopsia. As a carrier, he was not color blind himself, but carried the recessive gene for that particular mutation – a gene that he would pass on to his children, who would also have normal vision.

However, roughly four generations after the typhoon, the citizens of Pingelap began exhibiting symptoms of this rare recessive disorder known as Achromatopsia, also known as Monochromasy – which is vision with the complete absence of any detectable color.

When it appeared, the Pingalese called the disorder MASKUN, which literally means “not see.” All those achromatopes on the island today can trace their ancestry back to this single male survivor of the great typhoon.

The disorder did not appear until the fourth generation after the typhoon, but geneticists explain this on the basis of inbreeding. In the case of the achromatopsia on Pingelap Island, the genetic mutation which produces monochromasy, increased exponentially in a fairly short period of time. This occurs only when the population is extremely small . Because relatives share many of the same genes inherited from their common ancestor, there is a high probability that the offspring of two related parents will inherit an identical trait from each parent.

Since achromatopsia is a recessive disorder, inbreeding between the descendants of Pingelap resulted in children who inherited two recessive genes for the disorder. Those Pingelapese survivors who inherited two recessive genes for monochromasy were born without any understanding of color and a great sensitivity to light.

While this condition is rare among large and diverse populations, on isolated areas like islands the potential for rare genetic conditions to become common increases dramatically. Discovery of these unusual populations frequently leads to scientific research and study.

Congenital or genetic Achromatopsia should not be confused with Cerebral Achromatopsia, which is an acquired form of total colorblindness that can result from trauma, illness, or some other cause. Persons who develop Cerebral Achromatopsia report that they see a monochromatic world, all in shades of gray.

Persons with Cerebral Achromatopsia are diagnosed by neurologists, rather than eye specialists. Their loss of color perception is not accompanied by severely impaired vision, extreme light sensitivity, or any abnormality in the photoreceptors of the retina, as is the case with persons who have genetic Achromatopsia.

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Comments are Welcome and Appreciated 66 comments

Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Fabulous pictures and information. Interesting subject.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you. I am a great fan of all Dr. Sachs many books They are all unique and all quite wonderful. Last year at Reinhardt University was "the Year of Oceania" so I did a presentation to faculty and students on The Island of the Colorblind. This article is a fleshed out and cleaned up version of my presentation.


Ed Michaels profile image

Ed Michaels 4 years ago from Texas, USA

Very interesting. I have read a few of Sachs, mainly because my wife is a psycholinguist pursuing her PhD. I have to keep up with her, and keeping up with her led me to Sachs, but I did not know about this.


j80caldwell profile image

j80caldwell 4 years ago

Great read phdast7...talk about nature being cruel huh, I just couldn't imagine not being able to see light. I've never read Sach, but I do have AWAKENING on DVD and think its one of Robin Williams best performances... As a matter of fact, I think I may watch it tonight..


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 4 years ago from Isle of Man

A most informative and interesting read, thank you.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Ed- Thank you. Sachs is one of my favorite authors. I have read everything he has written twice, except Musicophilia. Have tried it twice and I got bogged down and went on to other things. You have your hands full if you are keeping up with your wife and her psycho-linguist studies. :) Good for her!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi j80- Thank you. Nature certainly can be cruel and it is a fascinating topic. Many years ago when I saw the film Awakenings, I decided to read the book and my lifelong interest in Dr. Sachs and his work began. He is a very interesting individual. I have seen him speak on C-SPAN a couple of times.

And I agree with you, it is a great performance by Robin Williams. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Spirit Whisperer- He is a most interesting and scientist and humanist. He combines the two traditions and emphases beautifully in his interests and in in his style of writing.

I must admit that re-reading the Hub today, I found and corrected about 6 or 7 mistakes I missed yesterday, a couple of them quite egregious. Oh, well. :(


Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

Very interesting and intriguing read - I knew nothing about these islanders and althoughI've seen Awakenings, I know nothing else about Dr Sachs. The fact that their condition all came down to one ancestor is amazing and somewhat cruel. Interesting hub, voted up.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks Jools99. It is rather cruel and certainly demonstrates the seemingly arbitrary way our genetic makeup impinges upon our life, and the life of our descendants. Sachs is a great writer. As brilliant and learned as he is, he writes for the average person (well, most of his book are like that).

A good place to start is with "Awakenings" or "The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat" where each chapter is a case study about some unusual neurological disorder. Thanks for commenting.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 4 years ago from Isle of Man

To err is human!

BTW Thank you for adding "egregious" to my vocabulary.

egregious - Adjective:

Outstandingly bad; shocking.

Remarkably good.


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 4 years ago from Shelton

You know PH.. I thought I was going to need Cliff Notes to read your hub.. but no.. mentioning the Williams movie kind of put it in place.. believe it or not..LOL again you are an intelligent hubber :) Frank


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Egregious is one of my favorite words...but then I have 794 favorites! :) So very glad to share it with you. I am always trolling about in everything I read for new and interesting words. Of course, I am also focusing on the author's ideas, logic, and overall content. :) Thank you for the comments.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Frank- What a great response... Cliff Notes indeed! :) Glad mentioning Awakenings helped. I do try to be an Intelligent Hubber. Thank you for noticing. PH


RobSchneider 4 years ago

Very interesting hub! Is Dr. Sachs the same guy who wrote "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat"? Although it was a long time ago and I remember few details, it was a fascinating book.


Ed Michaels profile image

Ed Michaels 4 years ago from Texas, USA

Yes, I believe that was Sachs/Sacks. Or amazon thinks so, anyway.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hey Rob- Oliver Sachs is indeed the author of "The Man Who Mistook..." And almost all his books are fascinating. I highly recommend them and most can be obtained used and found inexpensively on Amazon or at my favorite online bookstore, Abebooks.com Thanks for the positive comment and happy reading. :)


Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

Gypsy Rose Lee 4 years ago from Riga, Latvia

Fantastic pics and an interesting read. Thanks for the info never knew about all this. Passing it on.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Gypsy. I was quite pleased with how the pictures turned out. Several years ago, I purchased a year's subscription to a public domain database of photographs (designed for teachers, primarily, I think) and I spent a couple of weeks looking at and downloading several hundred pictures.

I had never heard of HP then and didn't know I would be using them this way. I was just a teacher who wanted access to pictures to use with classroom lectures. Who knew? Glad you found it an interesting read and please do pass it on. :)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

Such an interesting hub--I like Sachs's work but had not heard about this aspect of it--very interesting!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Audrey. I like almost everything Sachs has written, but I have to admit, this is one of my favorites. :)


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

I can see why--I love his sense of curiosity! And yours!


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

Great hub. I read his books, "The Man Who Thought His Wife was a Hat" and "An Anthropologist on Mars" in the 90's. He is both a talented researcher and an entertaining writer. Voted up.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

MfM- Isn't there a Modesto, California? Sounds familiar somehow. My father was stationed at Travis AFB in the late 60's. I loved northern California

Sachs is terrific. I was introduced to his work through the film Awakenings and read several of his books. In 2005 I suffered a cerebral infarction and was unable to work for a year.

Between physical therapy of various kinds, I started reading and rereading everything he had written...looking for insight, for understanding, for help.

After all, who better to read after a neurological event, that a best selling neurologist. Don't know if it benefited my neurological state, but it certainly improved my mental well-being. Thanks for the comment.


Man from Modesto profile image

Man from Modesto 4 years ago from Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Modesto, California)

There is a Modesto in NorCal. That is where I am.

You know, you can add links at the bottom of the article for Amazon & eBay, and you can exactly specify keywords, and put Sachs' books for sale. You get a commission for sales through your links. Recently, when I wanted to buy a certain professional book, I searched hubpages for a good review. Then, I bought the book through a link on that hubber's hub. (& I bought another book, too, while browsing to qualify for free Amazon shipping.) Setting up the accounts, if you don't have them, is simple.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I am incredibly non-technical and I cannot usually manage to follow instructions about how to do things online (kind of sad), so I have just been enjoying doing articles and not worrying about it.

But you are the third person to kindly suggest to me that maybe I should avail myself of some of the options out there. So maybe, I will. :) Thanks for the information and the suggestions.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

Great article phdast7. There is a classic example of the dangers of inbreeding. Thanks for affirmating the nature of the ailment which I knew something of, but not a great deal. It is interesting too, that you in academia with your visual infimity face the challenge of having to grade papers and such with the affliction.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you. Glad you liked it. It was a chance to talk about Oliver Sachs, discuss the types of color-blindness and post some great tropical pictures. Pretty sweet! :)

I don't have too much trouble grading unless the student writes in pencil, which turns all silvery and blurry when I look at it. Interestingly, what the partial color-blindness did affect was my ability to tolerate bright lights, specifically fluorescent lights.

I still wear glasses with a gray tint so I won't get terrible headaches and in my class room at the university, the first thing I do is cut off half of the overhead lights.

Then its manageable. Thanks for the read and the comments.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

An incredible report. Thanks for sharing what you've learned, and the photos. It's amazing to think of so many being color blind in such a beautifully colored world. Then again, I'm guessing it would be amazing to see first hand how well they have adapted other senses. Thanks for an interesting read.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you RT. I appreciate your comments. It is an amazing population with pretty severe disabilities. Of course they have a very difficult time in bright sunlight, but their vision works extremely well in the dim and shaded parts of the jungle.

They can distinguish hundreds of shades of white, gray and black where you and I could only distinguish 20 or 30 shades. They can also distinguish textures - leaves, bark, etc., that we can't because they are not distracted by color like we are.

Kind of like a blind person is more aware of sounds and textures because they cannot use their sight, but also because they are not distracted by it. It is a poor island population and many do have trouble finding gainful employment. Hopefully their situation will improve.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

Your article is fascinating and I appreciate the wealth of beautiful photographs!

My best friend and long time guitarist in my rock band was born blind. But his sense of hearing is absolutely incredible. I should write about that. He can instantly tell you the key of any sound—farts, pans rattling together, crickets chirping. And he can remember voices of people he met once 20 years ago!

Thanks for the good read. I enjoyed it.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you. I am happy to have done justice to a terrific author (and human being) Oliver Sachs and to the Pingelapese people who are affected by this rare condition, total color blindness.

It is fascinating to me that it takes three errors or mutations, one in three different genes, each of which accounts for one third of the color spectrum in order to produce compete color blindness.

Your friend is a perfect example of the ability we have to strengthen other senses when one is severely damaged or lost. We are amazingly designed creatures. :)

And you should write about it! :)


Script Mechanic profile image

Script Mechanic 4 years ago from Wherever Films Need To Be Nitpicked

I wonder if the typhoon that hit Pingelap is the basis for Terry Pratchett's book NATION. There are a lot of similarities there.

In any case, this is probably the best explanation of what being colorblind is and isn't. I am red-green colorblind, the protoanomaly where the appropriate structures in the retina don't produce erythrolabe. The kids at school endlessly wanted to know what color I saw them as, like it was some sort of game. And that kind of set the standard for how people react when they find out I can't see the colors they can.

I didn't know it was possible for the eyes to fail to produce any photopigments at all.

Did Sachs postulate a cause for colorblindness? I know it's a recessive genetic mutation, but I can't help but think that perhaps it was an evolutionary adaptation. My night vision is significantly better than people who can see color normally, and that might be a boon to hunters. The same goes for recognizing danger. Many creatures have developed camouflage to blend in to our surroundings, but rarely do they match the texture of tone of their surroundings. Case in point, I was taken on a hike by my parents when I was little once. We were passing a fallen log and I spotted a rattlesnake, so I warned them to keep clear of it. It seemed quite obvious to me, but neither my mother nor father could see it until it moved. They thought it was just a stick. A person with normal eyesight might've ended up bitten.

They were relying on the color. I wasn't.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

I am not familiar with Pratchett's book, but it is entirely possible that it was based on Pingelap’s development after the typhoon. Kids (and adults) seem to have little understanding of the impact their comments can have.

I don’t remember Sachs postulating about whether it was an evolutionary adaptation. But it certainly makes sense of what we know about animal vision. It is keener than ours and especially so at night, when there is virtually no color to detect. I could see how it could be a benefit for hunters. Very interesting.

Your ability to detect the snake when your parents could not, because of the camouflage does remind me of the natives’ ability to see things in the jungle and in the dim forest, where most of us would be oblivious.

I wonder if anybody else is writing about or researching this. I wish I had time to do a literature search, but that will have to wait for another time.

BTW, I have not forgotten about reading your work. I will do so in the next day or two. I should also mention that because of my teaching responsibilities, my time on HP is very limited Monday through Thursday. So if I don't respond right away to something you've written, is probably because I am in the busiest time of my week. Then over the weekend I try to catch up.

You know, you should do a hub on red green color blindness; you can address it from a personal perspective, as well as a scientific one. Of course, that doesn't exactly jive with what you intend to focus on. But maybe? Something to think about? Hope you have a good week.


Brett.Tesol profile image

Brett.Tesol 4 years ago from Somewhere in Asia

Voted up and awesome, that is an incredible hub and the pictures really help to bring it alive. Your comments are the most detailed I think that I have seen on Hubpages, keep up the GREAT work!

Thanks for SHARING.


Kris Heeter profile image

Kris Heeter 4 years ago from Indiana

Very interesting - I will be adding some Sachs work to my reading list. As a biologist, I find this kind of stuff very fascinating! Thanks for sharing - I'll be sharing this with my followers and others outside HB that I know will find this interesting:)


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 4 years ago

I always like learning bits of science. You've presented some very interesting facts about color-blindness.


Natashalh profile image

Natashalh 4 years ago from Hawaii

I had a coworker who was colorblind. He and another coworker were moving a stack of firewood one fall. There was a copperhead in the pile and, because of its coloring, the full-color sighted coworker did not notice the snake. The snake's patterns stood out instantly to the colorblind guy, and he was able alert everyone else to its presence, so I know firsthand that colorblind folks tend to have other senses that are heightened.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Brett - Thanks for your wonderful and encouraging comments. I liked the picturesa lot myself. :) I do tend to give detailed commenrs wgen I can. I was afraid they might be irritating, so its good to know someone likes them. And thank you for SHARING. I do the same thing whenever I can. Have a great day, well, evening, I guess. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Kris - Glad you found it interesting. Sachs is a neurologist by training but he has wide ranging interests. And thanks for SHARING. I appreciate it. Hope you are having a great week. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Dear Blissful - Like you I like bits and pieces of science, but I am certainly no scientist myself. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


John Sarkis profile image

John Sarkis 4 years ago from Los Angeles, CA

phdast7, these are some of the most beautiful pictures I've seeing and the article is very informative as well.

Thanks for posting

John


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Natasha - That is such a great example of the decreas in one area of function, but the increased sesitivity or function in anotther area. Quite amazing. Sounds like the young woman could pick out "patterns" just like the Pingalapese natives could. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi John - They are lush and georgeous aren't they? I really enjoyed finding them and adding them to the text.

Glad you liked the content. Sachs is terrific and I want everone to know about his work. Thanks for commenting.

Theresa


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

Thanks for this fascinating look into color-blindness. I suspect that if you saw the entire world in shades of gray, you'd focus on patterns and shapes, just like we do when watching a black-and-white movie. I also suspect that if you're color-blind, you don't see it as a defect, since you know no other way, but just consider it one of your characteristics. Voting this Up and Interesting.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

You are very welcome and thank you for the encouraging comments. I think you are right, seeing in blacks, gray, and white is as normal to them as expecting to see in color is normal to us. They do recognize patterns and textures to which most of us are oblivious. Thanks for the votes. :)


tammyswallow profile image

tammyswallow 4 years ago from North Carolina

This is a very unique and informative hub. I didn't realize how much I didn't know about color blindness. I learned so much on genetics and how recessive traits are passed. Excellent hub!


sen.sush23 profile image

sen.sush23 4 years ago from Kolkata, India

phdast7, like the rest of the readers here, I can only say thank you. You have shared so much information in this Hub, and the story was so captivating with the beautiful pictures. Your pictures invariably draw the eye of the reader and dramatize the visualization of a world with out colors. Inbreeding leads to genetic disorders and deficiencies- unfortunately we have come to realize this truth only lately. Voted up and away.


JKenny profile image

JKenny 4 years ago from Birmingham, England

Wow, what a fascinating hub. A prime example of evolution at work in humans. Their colour blindness may have been caused by inbreeding, but its helping to improve memory skills, and in the case of identifying ripe fruit, enhancing other senses. Very interesting. Voted up.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Tammy - I find most of Oliver Sach's work fascinating, but I really fell in love with the book that described Pingelap and colorblindness. Such a different world they inhabit. Thanks so much for your encouraging comments. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Sen - Glad to make your acquaintance. :) And you are so welcome. Thank you for great and descriptive comments in the Hub. I spent some time finding the right pictures. I am glad they added to the Hub. I find genetic disorders and deficiencies very interesting myself. Thank you for your votes. I teach full time so it may take me awhile, but I will get around to reading some of your work. :) Have a great day.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

JKenney - It is fascinating isn't it...what is surely a problematic deficit on the one hand, also confers a decided benefit in other situations. Glad you found it interesting. Thanks for commenting and voting.


sandrabusby profile image

sandrabusby 4 years ago from Tuscaloosa, Alabama, USA

Voted up and interesting. It is a treat to read your hubs. Thanks for SHARING.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi sandra - Glad you enjoy my hubs and thank you for saying so and for sharing. :) Hope you have a great week.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

This is a fascinating hub, phdast7! I love all the detailed information. I haven't read any books by Oliver Sachs, but I'm going to do so now that I have read your hub and its interesting comments section.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Alicia - You'll enjoy his books. They are all good and almost all of them are very readable. Let me recommend three to start out with (you can probably get hold of them used pretty inexpensively).

The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat

Awakenings (there is a film based on this book)

The Island of the Colorblind.

Thanks for visiting and commenting Have a great evening. :)


aethelthryth profile image

aethelthryth 4 years ago from American Southwest

Just discovered this from your new poem on the subject, and found it very interesting as I have a good friend who is colorblind (totally, as far as I know; he relies on his mother to tell him which clothes do not go together). Never knew there was a difference between being born with it and getting it through some sort of trauma - I think he must have acquired it early on, because it has not interfered with his becoming an engineer.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good afternoon. I had wondered if anyone would remember or notice the essay on Oliver Sachs. I was sitting in my office yesterday afternoon, soon to head home and I glanced over at my new hand lotion. The bottle has a picture of mango, coconut, and some other exotic fruit on it. It made me think of Sach's book and Pingelap Island, and then I suddenly had this vivid image of the children coming to the beach and diving in, just as the rest of us around the world were gathering their things and leaving. I had no idea where the image would take me and 90 minutes later the poem had emerged.

Interesting that he is an engineer...I never thought about what impact total colorblindness might have on a person's ability to read blueprints for example....perhaps it has none. Very interesting. You might ask him if he has ever read the book and what his impression of it is. Thanks for reading and commenting. :)


molometer profile image

molometer 4 years ago

Hi Theresa,

What a fascinating read. My brother in law is colour blind and as you know Linda has had issues with impaired contrast and colour recognition as a by product of her macula edema.

It can have some serious consequences when we consider how important our colour vision is.

Interesting point about the genetic component of these islanders and the recessive gene impact.

I have seen the movie awakenings based on Dr oliver Sachs book. It is brilliant. I must look into more of his works.

Thanks for a great hub. All the appropriate votes and of course sharing this one with a wider audience.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good Morning Michael - Sorry it is taking me so long to respond, but I am behind on pretty much everything due to family illness. I am so pleased you liked this one. I do think it is a fascinating topic and please do look into Oliver Sach's work. He is a terrific writer, scientist, and humanist.

And isn't Awakenings just brilliant - the film is how I be came acquainted with Sach's works almost twenty years ago. I must have 12 or 13 of his books and I can't think of a one I don't like a great deal. A great one to dive into is "The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat" but they are all good.

It is all the more interesting to me of course because I ended up with a partial red-green colorblindness after a stroke eight years ago. In dim light or interior lighting it is impossible for me to tell shades of green, blue and purple apart. Out in the bright sunlight the underlying hues of red or green or yellow become quite apparent. Getting dressed to go somewhere can be quite exciting! :) Speaking of LInda, I had not realized that problems with color recognition were a consequence of macula edema.

Take good care. ~~Theresa


poetryman6969 profile image

poetryman6969 19 months ago

A very interesting hub. Voted up. Beautiful photos.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 19 months ago from New York

Theresa this hub provided us with so much information, much of which was totally new to me. My husband is blue/green colorblind and cannot tell the difference between various shades of either color.

I can't imagine a life devoid of color! Dr. Sach's study has certainly proved his theory and your hub has certainly educated us all!

Voted up, useful, and interesting.


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 19 months ago from Georgia

A very interesting piece. I never thought of the compensations someone who is colorblind must make. All I could think of was living with so much color and not be able to see it, but I suppose those who are able to see all colors miss a lot in subtleties.

Great details in your hub.

Voted up and interesting.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 19 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you poetryman. I am a historian by profession, but there are lots of artists in my family and so I really appreciate good pictures and graphics. Glad you found the hub interesting. Dr. Sachs is one of my favorite authors. :)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 19 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Mary. I am a great fan of Oliver Sachs and enjoy his medical/nature/science/culture books which are written on a level that normal people can understand. I found it fascinating and in fact since I write this, I have used the book in a class I taught. Great fun for me and the students liked it. Like you, I cannot imagine a black and white world. Hope all is well. Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 19 months ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi Cindy. Thank you for your kind and encouraging comments. I never really thought about compensations either until I read Sachs book. And I never thought about the fact that I was missing subtleties of texture. Hope you are having a good week. Theresa

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