EnChroma

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How It Works


Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Technology
  3. The EnChroma Cx: The color blindness correcting lens

Summary

Explore a new world of color with Digital Color Boost™, an optical coating technology invented by EnChroma Inc. in Berkeley, CA.

EnChroma offers a line of sunglass lenses made with Digital Color Boost™. These special lenses provide brightness, contrast and clarity of color never seen before.

Digital Color Boost™ works using a series of precise “cutouts” along the spectrum of light. By removing the wavelengths of light between the primary colors, Digital Color Boost™ amplifies the color signal sent to the brain. Standard sunglasses darken the view to cut glare, but also reduce color definition. EnChroma lenses provide protection without compromise.

Why is better color vision important? Color plays a key role in depth perception and object recognition. EnChroma lenses enhance color information, giving a pronounced “pop-out” 3D effect to colorful objects like flowers, cars and painted curbs. Color also conveys meaning—in charts and graphs as well as safety markings, signs and lights while driving. In clinical trial tests of color perception, wearers responded faster and more accurately with EnChroma lenses.

EnChroma products are made in the USA and patent pending in the USA and internationally.


Technology


EnChroma’s Digital Color Boost™ sets a new standard for what is possible in eyewear. This technology is astronomical—literally. The same machines for making optical parts in satellites and lasers also make EnChroma’s lenses with Digital Color Boost™. But there is more to the picture than just machines—EnChroma’s technology is based on a solid foundation in the science of color vision.

The story begins ten years ago. EnChroma scientists engaged in a NIH-funded research grant to develop an optical method for correcting color blindness. To fully understand the problem, they created a mathematical model of how the human eye understands color. Then, using a computer, thousands of possible lens designs could be tested to arrive at the perfect solution.

The key discovery was that by filtering the wavelengths of light, the color signal sent to the brain could be amplified. However, the kind of filtering needed could not be done using standard methods such as dye tinting. To amplify color, the filter must make very precise “cuts” in the spectrum—switching quickly to block individual wavelengths of light. The fast switching action is analogous to how a digital electrical signal changes between the binary states of zero and one. That is why the coating is called Digital Color Boost™.

Digital Color Boost™ coatings are made from up to 100 layers of dielectric material. Each individual layer is only a few nanometers thick—so thin its invisible. However, when many layers are combined in just the right way, they interact to make something more. Due to quantum interactions at the boundaries between layers, photons passing through the coating are selectively blocked depending on their wavelength.

To make it work, the thickness of each layer must be carefully controlled. Working from EnChroma’s specifications, engineers use high-tech computer-controlled coating machines to create the desired lens. These machines cost millions of dollars, but due to advances in efficiency and automation, the technology is now affordable.

EnChroma’s mission is to bring this unique technology to consumer eyewear products.


The EnChroma Cx: The color blindness correcting lens

Human vision is based on cone cells—special light-sensitive nerve cells found in the eye. There are about six million cone cells inside the eye. These are divided into three types, which correspond to the three primary colors: red, green and blue. Color perception occurs by comparing the relative stimulation of the three types of cone cells.

In other words, the amount of each primary color present determines what shade of color is seen. Humans with normal color vision see about one million unique shades of color.

Red-green color blindness in caused by a genetic defect carried on the X-chromosome. The condition affects 1 in 12 males (8%) and 1 in 200 females (0.4%).

There are two types of red-green color blindness: deutans and protans. Deutans, which are 75% of cases, have a defect in the green cone cells. In this case, the defect causes the green cone cell to be spectrally shifted towards red. Green becomes more like yellow. Protans, which are 25% of cases, have a defect in the red cone cells. In this case, the defect causes the red cone cell to be spectrally shifted towards green. Red becomes darker and more like orange.

These spectral shifts degrade the quality of color information sent to the brain. Some colors like blue and yellow are not affected, but shades of green, orange, brown, red, pink and purple are muddled and washed out. If the color blindness is strong, it can be difficult to correctly name these colors, causing problems with jobs and many everyday tasks. People with red-green color blindness can usually see between 10,000 to 100,000 shades of color.

The EnChroma Cx uses a special extra-strength version of the Digital Color Boost™ coating. By removing the wavelengths of light where overlap is occurring between the red and green cone cells, the spectral shift can be reversed, amplifying the color signal sent to the brain. The result is that colors appear to be brighter and more pure. Thousands more shades can be seen. Colors can be recognized more quickly and with less confusion. For many, the effect is a profound emotional experience.

The EnChroma Cx is an optical assistive device only—it is not a cure for color blindness.

Recommended Frames for the EnChroma Cx:

See more frame options for the EnChroma Cx…