FARGO — Imagine never seeing the brilliant shades of oranges and pinks of a beautiful North Dakota sunset. Or how about the lush greens in every shade imaginable in the forests of Minnesota. Kind of hard, isn't it?
That's the case for Fargo resident Dan Haglund, who has the most common type of red-green color blindness — but special glasses are now allowing him to see the shades like everyone else, and he's excited to see more of what he's been missing his whole life.
He recently shared a video of his initial reaction to the new view on Facebook.
For roughly 8 percent of men and .5 percent of women of Northern European descent, these colors are seen in a very different way.
According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, color blindness is the inability to see colors in a normal way, often happening when an individual can't distinguish between certain colors. In an article written for the group, author David Turbert explains how the eyes work to allow us to see.
"In the retina, there are two types of cells that detect light," he writes. "They are called rods and cones. Rods detect only light and dark and are very sensitive to low light levels. Cone cells detect color and are concentrated near the center of your vision. There are three types of cones that see color: red, green and blue. The brain uses input from these cone cells to determine our color perception."
However, when one or more of the color cone cells are absent, not working properly or show a different color than normal, the affected person perceives color in an entirely different way.
Haglund has dealt with the most common type of color blindness — scientifically known as deuteranomaly and protanomaly — since birth, and has family members who are also affected.
"I know when I was in elementary school, they gave all the kids a test," he says. "And then, you know, page by page, (they asked me) 'Can you see the number in these dots?' and I could only pick out, I think there were 20 pages and I could pick out about four of the pages and the rest were just blobs."
But Haglund's perception of the world got a little brighter this week, thanks to a gift from his girlfriend.
"I wasn't anticipating (what I saw), because you wait your whole life — it's like opening a present," Haglund says. "(I) waited decades to see what everyone else is seeing and then when I saw — I just couldn't believe the shades. Everything's so much more vivid and brighter than I'm seeing them."
Haglund's new glasses give him the ability to see colors in a new way by enhancing the contrast between colors by filtering out light. Since his first experience with these color-enhancing glasses, Haglund says he's looking forward to experiencing a whole new side of life.
"The couple things that I came up with yesterday (that I am excited for) are sunrises and sunsets," he says. "The sky has got some amazing colors that I've never seen, and then rainbows because I think there's a color or two in the rainbow that I'm probably misidentifying. I mean, I see the colors of the rainbow, but I don't know if I'm seeing them correctly."