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What It's Like to See in Full Color for the First Time

Carl Wycoff

Cayson Irlbeck is 10-years-old, and until a few months ago, he'd never seen the green of the grass or the red of a stop sign. That all changed one afternoon when his parents surprised him with a pair of Enchroma glasses, which allow some people who are red-green colorblind to see in full color. He says it's been life changing for him. 

"Stoplights. Stop signs. The grass," he says. "My dad will wake me up really early, and I'll see the purple and orange in the sunrise. The sunsets are awesome too." 

When you're the colorblind art teacher, you're kind of an oddity. I use it as a teaching tool. Students will ask me about what color they should use, and I say, "you know I'm colorblind. What do you think?" - Marcus Claire

"I saw the Lego Batman Movie, and I had seen the Lego Movie before that. It was kind of dull. But I put the glasses on in the movie theatre, and it was so colorful." 

Cayson's dad, Aaron, says he and his wife knew that their son was colorblind from a very young age. They bought him a 3-D book as a gift, and it didn't work for him.

During this hour of Talk of Iowa, host Charity Nebbe talks with Cayson and his dad about the moment when Cayson tried on his glasses for the first time and when he saw his first rainbow. 

Chris Johnson, who researches color deficiency, the preferred scientific term for someone who has issues with color vision, at the University of Iowa says there are two reasons people have a hard time seeing color -- genetics or eye diseases.

Along with Johnson, Devin Rasko, who is in his late 30's and is also colorblind, and Marcus Claire, a color deficient art teacher at West Central Valley Schools in Stuart, also join the conversation. 

Rasko says he recently bought a pair of Enchroma glasses. 

"My friend brought out my daughter's rainbow colored shoe, and I was looking at the shoe with tears rolling down my face. I'm a 39 year old man, and I was crying over a pair of shoes." 

Lindsey Moon served as IPR's Senior Digital Producer - Music and the Executive Producer of IPR Studio One's All Access program. Moon started as a talk show producer with Iowa Public Radio in May of 2014. She came to IPR by way of Illinois Public Media, an NPR/PBS dual licensee in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, and Wisconsin Public Radio, where she worked as a producer and a general assignment reporter.
Charity Nebbe is the host of IPR's Talk of Iowa