Can colour blindness be cured?

18th July 2011
Can colour blindness be cured? (iStock)

Around four per cent of the population – almost all of them male – have the most common form of colour blindness, which prevents them distinguishing between red and green. The principal cause is a faulty gene in the light-receiving retina. As such, a cure requires replacement of the faulty gene by properly-functioning versions in so-called ‘gene therapy’ – and some progress has been made.

In 2009, the journal Nature carried a report by a team of researchers in the US in which full colour vision had been restored to two squirrel monkeys. The feat was achieved by using a deactivated virus to carry fresh copies of the gene into the eye cells of the monkeys. Tests are continuing to find out if the treatment could work with humans.


Read more: 


SFQASubscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun facts.