Today, Nike and the NFL announced the Color Rush uniforms and schedule. As Nike states, “Launched in 2015 with eight teams, Color Rush brings a full head-to-toe monochromatic look to the NFL gridiron.” The Color Rush was introduced last season, but became a sensation due to one game in particular. Last year’s Week 10 Thursday night game was supposed to feature an AFC East rivalry between the New York Jets and Buffalo Bills. Instead, the uniforms became the main talking point! That is because colorblind football fans could not distinguish the all-red Bills from the all-green Jets, as seen here.
As a result, the American Optometric Association (AOA) shed light on the matter. Following the Jets-Bills uniform gaffe, AOA Immediate Past President Steven A. Loomis, O.D., wrote the following to Nike’s CEO and NFL Commissioner: “Nike and the can help all sports fans follow their favorite teams better by choosing the appropriate uniform colors, accent colors and contrasting helmet colors.”
It seems this year Nike and the NFL learned their lesson. This season several teams will be donning white jerseys to create the necessary contrast for colorblind people to tell the teams apart. In fact, the Jets and Bills will renew their rivalry this coming Thursday night with the Jets wearing all-white and the Bills wearing all-red.
So what is colorblindness?
A majority of people experience color in the same way. However, some people perceive colors differently than the majority because of a color vision deficiency. As a result, the “obvious” differences between colors are not apparent to people with colorblindness. Because most colorblindness is present from birth, most colorblind individuals are not even aware of their condition unless they are tested by an eye doctor.
Inherited colorblindness is caused by abnormal photopigments in the cells of the back of the eye. In humans, several genes in our DNA are responsible for production of photopigments. An alteration to a gene or several genes can lead to abnormal photopigments and colorblindness.
There are three main types of colorblindness. Red-green colorblindness is the most common, followed by blue-yellow colorblindness. A complete absence of color vision, or monochromatism, extremely is rare.
Do men suffer from color blindness more than women?
Yes! The National Eye Institute states that “As many as 8 percent of men and 0.5 percent of women with Northern European ancestry have the common form of red-green color blindness.” The genes for the most common types of colorblindness are on the X chromosome. Men have one X chromosome (from his mother), while women have two (one from each parent). Thus, if a man has a defective gene or genes making him susceptible for colorblindness, he has no backup and he will be colorblind. A woman, on the other hand, would have to defective genes passed on from both parents.