Our retinas contain three colour-sensitive cones, each containing photopigments with different sensitivities to light of different wavelengths. Simply speaking, we can refer to these photopigments as red, green, and blue. When you see the colour orange, you know it's orange because your eyes and brain process those wavelengths of light and recognise that colour. But for people with colour deficiencies, distinguishing colours like orange isn't so easy.
It can be hard to fathom that people literally see the world differently than you, but for roughly 8% of males in the US living with a red-green colour deficiency, that's life. (Because the X chromosome is where colour-blindness is inherited, colour-blindness is more common in men than women, since the extra X chromosome in women is more likely to make up for the genetic defect and thus avoid a colour deficiency.) To put that 8% into perspective, that's roughly 12.2 million men who have difficulty processing the colours red and green – that's about 1 million people more than the entire population of Cuba.
What this means is that certain cones in their eyes have limited or no functionality. As the name implies, in the case of red-green deficiency, red and green cones are affected. This causes reds to appear brownish-yellow and greens to appear beige. A red-and-green deficiency, also known as deuteranopia, is one of nine distinct types of colour-blindness, and it's the most common. Take a look at the picture below to see just how different the world can look for someone with a deuteranopia.
You can see how drastically colours like pink, red, orange, yellow, and green are affected by the malfunction of red and green cones. But for those with this form of colour-blindness – including the three men you're about to meet – this is completely normal.
Samsung recently created an app for their QLED TVs appropriately titled SeeColor. The app adjusts the TV settings so that the colours someone with a colour deficiency is usually unable to see show up – bright, vivid, and beautiful. The app is specifically developed for each distinct colour deficiency so that everyone can experience the 100% colour volume that the Samsung QLED TV offers. We wanted to test just how well the TV works, so we took three men with red-green deficiencies to experience the TV firsthand. Almost everyone was sceptical going into it. How could simply adjusting a few settings allow them to see colours they haven't yet seen in their lifetime? But, eager to test the TV's capabilities, they each sat down, calibrated it to adjust to their deficiency, and got ready to discover if seeing really was believing.
For Dustin, picking out clothes is a bit of a guessing game, so to play it safe, he tends to dress in monochrome. "One year for Christmas, my mum bought me a shirt, and it had orange stripes on it, and I had the same exact shirt," he said. "So I was like, 'Mom, I already have this shirt.' She said, 'No you don’t – the one you have has green stripes.' So they would hang beside each other in my closet, and I would pick one, but I had no idea if it was the green or the orange one. I would just go with it." A couple of weeks ago, Dustin mistook a grey dress for pink. He had never tried any colour-correcting glasses or other devices to enhance the colours he saw, so he was very eager to try out the TV.
"On this TV, it’s very noticeable. The oranges. They pop a lot more than usual."
Dustin was astonished by how clear and vibrant the colours on the TV were. He described it as being "very pure" and kept pointing out how distinguishable the reds, greens, and oranges were. He was able to see different colours in the bricks onscreen and various shades of red in the windowpanes. "On this TV, it’s very noticeable, the oranges. They pop a lot more than usual. I guess I’m not picking up a lot of the red in orange usually," he said. "The colours were definitely more vibrant. A lot of the reds stuck out, like this room, for example, I can really see the red in it, whereas on the regular TV it just looked really dull, like a greyish colour."
Shading is one area of Jason's life that is most affected by his red-green deficiency. He purposely mismatches socks to avoid accidentally pairing the wrong colours and has had to come up with his own systems when it comes to colour. "When I have to play games that require colours, I try to look at the patterns more than the colours," he said. A while ago, Jason tried some glasses that were supposed to help him see colour better but was underwhelmed, claiming that they just didn't work for him. Of the three people, he was the most sceptical...which made the experience that much richer.
"The reds are definitely more vibrant, and I can tell the shadings a lot better."
As he sat in front of the TV, his eyes widened and mouth slowly opened. "The reds are definitely more vibrant, and I can tell the shadings," he said. "It looked very desaturated before, and right now it looks a lot more orange and vibrant." He laughed and shook his head in amazement. "I think this is really working. It feels really cool. It's a much more intense colour experience." The shading was the biggest standout for him, allowing him to see nuances in the different types of greens, oranges, and blues that would otherwise look dull and grey to him.
Mark loves watching sports on TV, but last year as he was watching a game, he had a bit of an issue: he couldn't tell the jerseys apart. "One team was wearing red and another was wearing green, and I couldn’t distinguish between the players, so it just looked like a chaotic mess of football players running around the field." Mark is known for being well-dressed, but he admitted to us that he puts full trust in his wife to help him coordinate his looks in the morning. Before seeing the QLED TV in person, he had his reservations about how well it would work, but was increasingly more curious as he started making adjustments to the TV.
"Oh, this is actually a lot more vibrant. It seems a lot more rich and diverse versus muted."
All Mark could say as he was watching was "WOW". "Wow, that’s actually… Wow, that’s really cool. Oh, wow. Oh, this is actually a lot more vibrant. I’m seeing more reds in this. It seems a lot more rich and diverse versus muted." He was caught off-guard by how rich the colours were, describing it as "colour heaven compared to the original picture". He told us that he normally has difficulty distinguishing between warm and cool tones, but was able to clearly see the difference on the QLED. "That seems new and different for me. I didn’t even know that TVs had this sort of functionality or capability."
All three participants were blown away by the intensity of the colours and how easy it was to see them on the Samsung QLED TV. It's no small feat on Samsung's part, considering the TV can help over 25 million men in the US have a nearly picture-perfect TV experience. As Mark put it, "It’s really cool that technology has advanced so much that it is so simple to see colours that I would have never been able to see otherwise."
Photographs by Lauren Zaser / © BuzzFeed
If you or someone you know has a colour deficiency, Samsung has a TV made especially for them: the Samsung 4K QLED. Download the SeeColors app today and experience the 100% colour volume the Samsung QLED TV offers for yourself.