Incurability of Congenital Color-Blindness

B. JOY JEFFRIES
1878 Boston Medical and Surgical Journal  
As most probably one person out of every twenty-five in the community is more or less color-blind, and as, besides the mortification or restricted sphere of employment this may entail, our lives and property are thereby endangered on railroads and vessels, the question of the curability of congenital color-blindness is one of considerable importance. Certainly the color-blind railroad employé or pilot should not be dismissed from service if he can be cured of his defect. It has been till lately
more » ... as been till lately universally admitted by ophthalmic surgeons and physiologists that congenital color-blindness was incurable by any known means. In August, 1874, Dr. A. Favre, of Lyons, France, reported to the French Congress for the Advancement of Science, at Lille, some observations which seemed to him to prove that congenital color-blindness was curable both in children and adults by exercising the chromatic sense.2 Dr. Favre has for the last twenty years or more, as consulting surgeon of the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranean railroad company, pressed the necessity of examining all railroad employés for color-blindness, led so to do principally by the results of Wilson and Potton. He has succeeded in inducing other roads to adopt similar precautions, and deserves great credit for his exertions. It is, therefore, due him to look carefully at his statements, as, if correct, they are of the utmost importance. He reports the results in eleven different schools of the examination of one thousand and two boys between the ages of four and fifteen. These their teachers tested by asking them to name the color of objects exhibited of five principal colors. The teachers reported to Dr. Favre that they found at least two hundred and eighteen defective in chromatic sense, and that almost all were perfectly cured by being repeatedly shown objects and told the names of their colors till they were learned. Amongst one hundred and thirty-eight girls, from seven to fourteen years of age, Dr. Favre himself found only two whom he regarded as color-blind. These girls, he remarks, were under excellent teachers, and a large number had passed through the salles d'asile where colors were taught. Dr. Favre then says, " The examination of these several reports shows that many children of both sexes come into the salles d'asile and schools without a notion of the elementary colors. The number of children lacking in this sensation in the majority of boys' schools I have visited is from twenty to thirty per cent. This ratio diminishes in proportion as the attention of the scholars is directed by their teachers to colored objects.
doi:10.1056/nejm187803280981303 fatcat:hqcfk2rpgvccdal2rl6gds73em