Being colour blind may not be life-threatening, but it sure as hell can annoy the shit out of you.
For Daryl Ong, his degree of colour deficiency means he has difficulty recognising certain shades of red and green. Referring to the colourblindness test, he says, “Everyone around me seemed to be able to identify the numbers on the Ishihara number test without much problem and laugh at me for not being able to answer.”
On screen, certain shades of red and green also have a “polarising effect”, which he explains feels similar to wearing 3D glasses.
Ironically, he works in production. When he used to be a colour corrector on videos and photos, he would get certain colour tones slightly off.
The 20-year-old, who is currently serving National Service, says, “I mix up similar colours like blue and purple, green and yellow. I also can’t see many of the numbers in the Ishihara number test. The numbers are simply not there and I just see colourful white noise, kind of like a mosaic.”
As for how his colour deficiency has affected his life, he admits that it has shaped how he dresses. “I stick to neutral colours a lot because I’m afraid of matching colours. The habit just stuck with me since young.”
That said, these are common situations you’d expect those who have colour deficiency to experience differently. But what about an experience less talked about, such as clubbing, where trippy lights and neon signs are all part of a fun night?
I show Daryl and Zheng Xiu the following pictures.
This is where it gets interesting. Daryl says they look ‘normal’ to him, but also clarifies that he has no way of knowing whether what he sees is the ‘correct’ colour. Zheng Xiu, on the other hand, is more precise in his description of what he sees, and makes the following observations.
(Bear in mind this may not be a totally accurate depiction.)
For instance, they have to accept that they may never be able to win at online games.
“When playing FIFA online, sometimes I have trouble telling apart the players. I find the shades of colours similar, but my friends seem to be able to see fine. Maybe that’s why I keep losing,” says Daryl.
Yet trying to represent what Zheng Xiu sees is also a reminder that our views of the world, literal and metaphorical, are always solely ours. We may try our best to describe something as precisely as we can, but it’s highly unlikely anyone will completely understand what we mean.
In this case, it’s frustrating not being able to fully visualise what he tells me he sees because it’s clear we do not share identical mental references for every colour.
So I suppose if you are ever plagued by feelings that no one gets you, chances are there’s someone colourblind who knows how you feel.