Being Colorblind

Discussion in 'Medical Students - MD' started by MaybeMD, Oct 17, 2002.

  1. MaybeMD

    MaybeMD Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2002
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Since I was five, I knew I was colorblind. I want to know what effect this will have on me for the future. Are any of you medical students colorblind? If so, has it effected your ability to learn certain things? Like the nervous system and stuff like that. Also, does anybody know of any colorblind surgeons? I imagine that would be tough! And when I say "colorblind", I don't mean that I can only see in black and white. I see in color, it's just when ever I take those damn color blind tests I can never see the numbers or letters!!:mad: :mad: Any feedback is appreciated.
     
  2. Thread continues after this sponsor message. SDN Members do not see this ad.

  3. PMPMD

    PMPMD 4G MD
    Physician Faculty

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2001
    Messages:
    1,433
    Likes Received:
    23
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    I'm color-blind, and an MS1 and I don't think it will make any difference in my medical career. I've asked almost every doctor I know if color blindness would make a difference in his field, and the only ones I've heard where it might present a problem are pathology and ophthalmology. I'm not sure why ophtho would be a problem, but after struggling a little in histology lab, I can see why path is out, although I had no intentions of going into that anyway. Histology is a little difficult, but only if you listen to the directions that are given for finding things on the microscope. Sometimes they will refer to things by color, but I've learned that there are usually other ways of identifying these than by color. Radiology actually has an over-representation of color-blind people (since everything is in black and white). Something like 30% of radiologists are color-blind, compared to about 5% in the general population (these #s aren't exact, but close). I don't think surgery would be a problem, since you are more concerned with structures and relations than colors. But I'm not a surgeon so I can't really say.
     
  4. MaybeMD

    MaybeMD Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2002
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks, I feel a little more confindent now :)! But are are there any surgeons out there who are colorblind??
     
  5. Long Hair and a Beard

    Long Hair and a Beard Obsessionist

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2002
    Messages:
    954
    Likes Received:
    1
    Don't know about surgeons but one of my classmates in medical school is colourblind.

    He is doing just fine except for difficulties in pathological slides, as PatDaddy pointed out. I'm sure the tips that he gave would be helpful.

    Good luck!
     
  6. MSTP boy

    MSTP boy Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2001
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    0
    No offense to the individual who posted this, but there may be some clarifications needed.

    -Radiology is not really "everything in black and white". MRI, PET, US and a host of other imaging methods use the ability to distinguish colors..even catscans & x-rays require proficiency in the many subtle colors of greys.

    -Surgery absolutely requires the ability to distinguish colors. It would be near impossible to perform lab choles, cabg's, and almost any surgery if you can't identify structures correctly on the monitor..this is partially based on acute differences in color.


    If you're color-blind, I suggest going into primary care, or an internal medicine subspeciality like neurology, cardiology, or oncology. Your performance may not be quite as affected by visual acuity in these fields, although you still may have some problems. But, I'm sure there are many color-blind individuals who would like to have a doctor who understands the disease from their viewpoint. Good luck! prolly histo will be the toughest class for you. ;)
     
  7. PMPMD

    PMPMD 4G MD
    Physician Faculty

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2001
    Messages:
    1,433
    Likes Received:
    23
    Status:
    Attending Physician
    What you're referring to is pseudocolor. None of the imaging modalities used in radiology* use visible light as the source, so any "color" image you see associated with them is artbitrary. The images are based upon a matrix of values corresponding to some physical property of the tissue or contrast agent involved, such as the absorption value for a particular voxel of tissue in the case of CT, or the time delay of a signal reflected back from a tissue impedance mismatch in the case of U/S. My point is that in computer-based imaging modalities, any color or grayscale can be assigned to the value for a pixel in the image, and the default is usually a 8-bit (256 shade) grayscale.
    *Optical coherence tomography (OCT) uses a light source as an analog to B mode U/S, but the images are based on the response times, and OCT isn't used by radiologists anyway.
    In color blindness, the deficiency is in cones, not rods, so the person would have no difficulty distinguishing shades of grey.
    This statement is completely ridiculous. The idea that someone would limit their potential career choices to a few fields on the basis of something as minor as color blindness is preposterous. There is no reason why a person with color blindness couldn't enter, and succeed, in any medical field. The most difficult would obviously be pathology, but there are individuals who have succeeded at meeting even that challenge.
     
  8. MustafaMond

    MustafaMond K-Diddy M.D.

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2002
    Messages:
    1,935
    Likes Received:
    5
    Jeez.
    Keep your crap advice 2 ur self.
    Maybe when you figure out its called a "LAP CHOLE" someone will take u seriously.

    Colors on the monitor??? WTF??


    What crap!
    TOOL!!!!
    WTF is that?
    Ummm...do us all a favour and stop talking out your rectum, lame-O.:rolleyes:
     
  9. KyGrlDr2B

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2001
    Messages:
    2,045
    Likes Received:
    0
    Ok, explain to me again why a surgeon absolutely MUST be able to distinguish every color? I mean, the last time I checked, arteries and veins weren't red and blue like they are in books. I've seen a few surgeries and pretty much everything is the same color. I don't see how being color blind would limit your possibilities. You just come up with other ways to distinguish things besides color!
     
  10. womansurg

    womansurg it's a hard life...

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2002
    Messages:
    1,585
    Likes Received:
    10
    Poopy kah!

    My classmate is colorblind, and he is a fifth year graduating surgery resident. Graduating with honors.

    HOWEVER....he took alot of teasing early on, because he did place a central venous catheter - not once, not twice, but three separate times - in the aorta instead of in the superior vena cava. He says it's because he couldn't visualize the difference between the bright red arterial blood and the dark, bluish venous blood in the syringe when he did the percutaneous stick. (Our response was always, "How about that pulsatile blood hitting you in the forehead when you unscrewed the syringe, eh buddy?! Couldn't you see that?" :laugh: )

    Sure surgeons can be colorblind.
     
  11. MaybeMD

    MaybeMD Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2002
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hey WOMANSURG, thanks for that bit of info! I feel 10x better about things now! Though I hope I don't have problems placing central venous catheder's in the wrong places :laugh: !! Thanks everyone else for giving me your two cents!!
     
  12. docuw

    docuw Senior Member

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2001
    Messages:
    324
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am Red/Green colorblind with deficiency in other colors. As an M2, I have been through alot of pathology and alot of histo. I have had the difficulty when they see "this purple thing here is malignant, but this blue thing next to it is ok" (that is completely made up, but is a good example). The thing is, I can tell differences in shades and colors for the most part, but I just cant play "name that color." Of course, naming the color isnt important in surgery, or any other medical field. You just need to distinguish between the two. My deficiencies have not hampered my learning at all... in fact we just finished Hematology/Oncology (which requires you to look at tons of histo slides) and I got a 97% in the course. Moral of the story: you shouldnt have any problems.
     
  13. paean

    paean Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2002
    Messages:
    515
    Likes Received:
    1
    One of the Histology teachers at my school told a story about a pathology colleague who was completely color blind (not like you, but actually missing functional cones entirely). Apparently his colorblindness gave him a big advantage, because he wasn't swayed by variation in stains, and was better at picking out subtle things that were wrong. Although the story is a little fuzzy in my mind, it was something along the lines of being able to recognize by visual texture that made the guy such an awesome pathologist.

    If you have problems because the descriptions rely too much on color, ask for help (legally, you are required to be offered reasonable accomodations, like non-color based descriptions, if you have a documented disability, but most likely, all you will need is to ask for clarification).

    I would avoid discussing this in the interview unless it has influenced your interest in becoming a doctor, just in case you get a misinformed interviewer who won't look at all the wonderful things you have to offer once they hear that you are colorblind.

    Best of luck.
     

Share This Page