Color blind student sees world in new way with special glasses

Jared Case, a visual arts teacher at Mad River Middle School in Dayton, Ohio, literally helped to add a little more color to the life of one of his students.

After finding out that Lucas Boonchaliew, one of his seventh-grade students, was color blind, Case said that he remembered a video he had seen online about glasses that help correct color blindness.

"I've known about the glasses for a few years now," Case said. "They make the rounds on the viral video circuit. I have done research on them, and I saw very mixed reviews. I couldn't justify buying a pair before I had any students with color blindness. When I discovered Lucas was color blind, I asked him if he would be interested in trying them out."

Case said Lucas agreed because he was curious to see if the glasses would work.

The glasses were purchased through EnChroma for $500. The money came from an in-school fundraiser and a student fund set aside for accommodations to students with specific needs.

When the glasses arrived, Case said there was a period of adjustment. A person needs to wear the glasses for about 10 hours before his eyes can acclimate to them.

Lucas' specific type of color blindness is called protanopia. Case said that this means red cones do not detect enough red and are too sensitive to greens, yellows and oranges. As a result, greens, yellows, oranges, reds and browns may appear similar, especially in low light. It can also be difficult to tell the difference between blues and purples, or pinks and grays. Red and black might be hard to tell apart, especially when red text is against a black background.

Eventually, Lucas said he saw a very noticeable difference. "Colors are brighter than usual. Oranges and reds mostly. I had a shirt that I thought was gray, but it was actually pink and green," Lucas said.

He said he was amazed that the glasses actually worked. "I didn’t really think they would. I thought that it would be a waste. I wish I could see blue better all of the time now. I noticed flowers outside are bright pink, and before they just looked kind of red. When I walked outside, the sky caught my attention."

Lucas' stepfather, John Sowers, said that he was very excited when he heard what Case was doing for his stepson. "For a teacher to go out of his way and give a child the chance to see colors is amazing. It speaks volumes about him as a caring teacher," Sowers said.

The glasses are the property of the school and will be used as a learning aid for any student who might benefit from them.

Case said that no other color blind students have come forward as of yet, but he is hoping to hold annual fundraisers to benefit other color blind students as they are identified.