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How Specially Designed Glasses Open Up a New World for the Colorblind

Layers of nerve cells that perform the equivalent of mathematical calculations are attached to the retinal cone cells. They compute color and brightness. To simulate this whole process in the computer, Schmeder uses a mathematical model of the basic elements of color vision. His database contains thousands of colors as diverse as leaves in various stages of growth. For every hue, he and his team calculate how much is absorbed by the retinal cone cells. So far, this is standard science, Schmeder says.

They take it several steps further, however, modifying the model to mirror different types of color vision deficiency, such as red-green colorblindness. EnChroma researchers use the model to predict how different filters will perform. Schmeder says they discovered that, given any set of conditions, finding the optimal lens for any correctible colorblindness can be represented in a mathematical format known as a linear program.