World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0000593758
Reproduction Date:

Title: Dichromacy  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Color blindness, Tetrachromacy, List of common misconceptions, Red, Dichromatic
Collection: Color, Vision, Visual Disturbances and Blindness
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Classification and external resources
ICD-10 H53.5
ICD-9-CM 368.5
OMIM 303900 303800 190900

30021 30023

MeSH D003117

Dichromacy (di meaning "two" and chroma meaning "color") is the state of having two types of functioning spectral lights. By comparison, trichromats require three pure spectral lights to match all colors that they can perceive, and tetrachromats require four.

Dichromacy in humans is a color vision defect in which one of the three basic color mechanisms is absent or not functioning. It is hereditary and sex-linked, predominantly affecting males.[1] Dichromacy occurs when one of the cone pigments is missing and color is reduced to two dimensions.[2]


  • Classification 1
  • Testing for dichromacy 2
  • Animals that are dichromats 3
  • Color detecting abilities of dichromats 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6
  • Sources 7
  • External links 8


There are various kinds of color blindness:

  • Protanopia is a severe form of red-green color blindness, in which there is impairment in perception of very long wavelengths, such as reds. To these individuals, reds are perceived as beige or grey and greens tend to look beige or grey like reds. It is also the most common type of dichromacy today. This problem occurs because patients do not have the red cone cells in the retina.[3] Protanomaly is a less severe version.
  • Deuteranopia consists of an impairment in perceiving medium wavelengths, such as greens. Deuteranomaly is a less severe form of deuteranopia. Those with deuteranomaly cannot see reds and greens like those without this condition; however, they can still distinguish them in most cases. It is very similar to protanopia. In this form, patients do not have green cone cells in the retina, which makes it hard to see the green color.[3]
  • A rarer form of color blindness is tritanopia, where there exists an inability to perceive short wavelengths, such as blues. Sufferers have trouble distinguishing between yellow and blue. They tend to confuse greens and blues, and yellow can appear pink. This is the rarest of all dichromacy, and occurs in around 1 in 100,000 people. Patients do not have the blue cone cells in the retina.

Testing for dichromacy

The three determining elements of a dichromatic opponent-colour space are the missing colour, the null-luminance plane, and the null-chrominance plane.[4] The description of the phenomena itself does not indicate the colour that is impaired to the dichromat, however, it does provides enough information to identity the fundamental colour space, the colours that are seen by the dichromat. This is based on testing both the null-chrominance plane and null-luminance plane which intersect on the missing colour. The cones excited to a corresponding colour in the colour space are visible to the dichromat and those that are not excited are the missing colours.[5]

Animals that are dichromats

It is more informative to use situations where less than the total visual system is operating when studying about vision. For example, a system by which cones are the sole visual receptors could be used. This is rare in humans but certain animals possess this trait and this proves useful in understanding the concept of dichromacy.[6]

While their Triassic ancestors were trichromatic,[7] placental mammals are as a rule dichromatic;[8] the ability to see long wavelengths (and thus separate green and red) was lost in the ancestor of placental mammals, though it is believed to have been retained in marsupials, where trichromatic vision is widespread.[9] Recent genetic and behavioral evidence suggests the South American marsupial Didelphis albiventris is dichromatic, with only two classes of cone opsins having been found within the genus Didelphis.[10] Dichromatic vision may improve an animal's ability to distinguish colours in dim light;[11] the basically nocturnal nature of mammals, therefore, may have led to the evolution of dichromacy as the basal mode of vision in placental animals.[12]

The exceptions to dichromatic vision in placental mammals are primates closely related to humans, which are usually trichromats, and sea mammals (both pinnipeds and cetaceans) which are cone monochromats.[13] New World Monkeys are a partial exception: in most species, males are dichromats, and about 60% of females are trichromats, but the owl monkeys are cone monochromats, and both sexes of howler monkeys are trichromats.[14][15][16][17]

Color detecting abilities of dichromats

According to colour vision researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin (including Jay Neitz), each of the three standard colour-detecting cones in the retina of trichromatsblue, green and red – can pick up about 100 different gradations of colour. If each detector is independent of the others, simple exponentiation gives a total number of colours discernible by an average human as their product, or about 1 million;[18] nevertheless, other researchers have put the number at upwards of 2.3 million.[7] Exponentiation suggests that a dichromat (such as a human with red-green color blindness) would be able to distinguish about 10,000 different colours,[19] but no such calculation has been verified by psychophysical testing.

Furthermore, research conducted in 2006 suggests that dichromats have a significantly higher threshold for coloured stimuli than trichromats at low (1 Hz) frequencies. At higher (100 Hz) frequencies, dichromats perform as well as or better than trichromats.[20]

See also


  1. ^ Cassin, B. and Solomon, S. Dictionary of Eye Terminology. Gainesville, Florida: Triad Publishing Company, 1990.
  2. ^ "Guidelines: Colour Blindness." Retrieved 29 September 2006.
  3. ^ a b Hanggi, Evelyn B.; Ingersoll, Jerry F.; Waggoner, Terrace L. (2007). "Color vision in horses (Equus caballus): Deficiencies identified using a pseudoisochromatic plate test.". Journal of Comparative Psychology 121 (1): 65–72.  
  4. ^ Scheibner, H.; Cleveland, S. (1998). "Dichromacy characterized by chrominance planes". Vision Research 38 (21): 3403–3407.  
  5. ^ Scheibner, H.; Cleveland, S. (1997). "Dichromacy characterized by chrominance planes". Vision Research 38 (1): 3403–3407.  
  6. ^ Jacobs, G. H.; Yolton, R. L. (1969). "Dichromacy in a ground squirrel". letters to nature 223: 414–415.  
  7. ^ a b Jacobs, G. H. (2009). "Evolution of colour vision in mammals" (PDF).  
  8. ^ Bowmaker, JK (1998). "Evolution of colour vision in vertebrates". Eye (London, England). 12 ( Pt 3b): 541–7.  
  9. ^ Arrese, C. A.; Oddy, A. Y.; Runham, P. B.; Hart, N. S.; Shand, J.; Hunt, D. M.; Beazley, L. D. (2005). )"Isoodon obesulus) and quenda (Setonix brachyurus"Cone topography and spectral sensitivity in two potentially trichromatic marsupials, the quokka (. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 272: 791–796.  
  10. ^ Gutierrez, E.A.; Pegoraro, B.M.; Magalhães-Castro, B.; Pessoa, V.F. (2011). "Behavioural evidence of dichromacy in a species of South American marsupial". Animal Behaviour 81: 1049–1054.  
  11. ^ Vorobyev, M. (2006). "Evolution of colour vision: The story of lost visual pigments". Perception (ECVP Abstract Supplement) 35. 
  12. ^ Neitz, GH; Neitz, M; Neitz, J (1996). "Mutations in S-cone pigment genes and the absence of colour vision in two species of nocturnal primate" (PDF).  
  13. ^ Vorobyev, M (Jul 2004). "Ecology and evolution of primate colour vision" (PDF). Clinical & experimental optometry : journal of the Australian Optometrical Association 87 (4–5): 230–8.  
  14. ^ Jacobs, G. H.; Deegan, J. F. (2001). "Photopigments and colour vision in New World monkeys from the family Atelidae. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London". , Series B, 268: 695–702.  
  15. ^ Jacobs, G. H.; Deegan, J. F.; Neitz; Neitz, J.; Crognale, M. A. (1993). "Photopigments and colour vision in the nocturnal monkey, Aotus". Vision Research 33 (13): 1773–1783.  
  16. ^ Mollon, J. D.; Bowmaker, J. K.; Jacobs, G. H. (1984). "Variations of colour vision in a New World primate can be explained by polymorphism of retinal photopigments. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London". , Series B, 222: 373–399.  
  17. ^ Sternberg, Robert J. (2006) Cognitive Psychology. 4th Ed. Thomson Wadsworth.
  18. ^ Mark Roth (13 September 2006). "Some women who are tetrachromats may see 100,000,000 colors, thanks to their genes". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. 
  19. ^ "Color Vision:Almost Reason for Having Eyes" by Jay Neitz, Joseph Carroll, and Maureen Neitz Optics & Photonics News January 2001 1047-6938/01/01/0026/8- Optical Society of America
  20. ^ Sharpe Lindsay T. ; de Luca Emanuela ; Hansen Thorsten; et al. "Advantages and disadvantages of human dichromacy" JOURNAL OF VISION, Volume: 6 Issue: 3 Pages: 213–223 DOI: 10.1167/6.3.3 Published: 2006


  • Scheibner, H.; Cleveland, S. (1997). "Dichromacy characterized by chrominance planes". Vision Research 38 (1): 3403–3407.  

External links

  • Visual comparisons of various types of color vision impairments by Cal Henderson
  • Color Vision, Color Deficiency at Firelily Designs
  • Colorblindness at
  • Colblindor -- Color Blindness Viewed Through Colorblind Eyes by Daniel Flück

This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.