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Color blindness in women is rare, especially when considering color blindness inherited through genetic mutations, the most common form of color vision impairment. Few women who do suffer color vision deficiency do so because of the same genetically inherited mutations that cause color blindness in men. Instead, most color blindness in women is the result of eye injury, acquired disease, or medication side effects.
Rare cases of color blindness in women linked to genetic mutations do exist, although at a miniscule percentage. Vision deficiencies relating to color recognition are most often associated with inherited sex-linked genetic disorders, meaning those disorders associated with mutations in sex chromosomes X or Y. Genetic impairment of color perception results from a defective or mutated X chromosome. In order to have the inherited variety of color blindness, an individual must inherit defective X chromosomes from a parent. Regarding color blindness in women, this would require both parents to pass similarly defective X chromosomes, a statistical rarity.
Genetic abnormalities and sex-linked disorders are the typical cause of color blindness in men, but not necessarily in women, according to statistics compiled from numerous studies. Women who are color blind are far more likely to have acquired conditions which cause color blindness. Based on statistical data and documented cases, color blindness in women typically occurs some time after birth. Injury to the retina, certain types of diseases, and adverse reactions to medications are more likely to cause color blindness in women than inherited genetic disorders.
For example, certain medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis have been linked to acquired color blindness in both men and women. Hydroxychloroquine is one such arthritis medication with a known link to acquired color blindness. Likewise, certain heart medications such as digoxin can cause color vision problems if too much medication is present in the system or in the case of overdose. Where medication toxicity is a suspected cause, color blindness may be temporary depending on severity and appropriateness of initial diagnosis and treatment.
Similarly, medical conditions such as glaucoma and other diseases of the eye can also result in color blindness in women just as easily in men. Macular degeneration, complications from diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and cataracts, along with several other medical conditions, can likewise cause color blindness in women. Aging has also been linked to causing problems with the visual cortex in both men and women, which can lead to color blindness in some elderly patients regardless of gender.
Injuries and certain addictions can also cause color blindness in women. Accidents resulting in damage to the actual eye or areas of the brain associated with vision can affect if or how colors are perceived. Tobacco poisoning and alcoholism have been linked to vision damage resulting in color blindness and other vision problems. Malnutrition and some eating disorders which result in malnutrition can, in some patients, lead to color vision problems. Whether a patient's color blindness is permanent depends on the cause, appropriate treatment when warranted, and the patient's overall health.
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